My husband carves wooden gun stocks. He bought Zentangle® untangled: Inspiration and Prompts for Meditative Drawing by Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT) Kass Hall because he thought he might be able to use some of the patterns for his carving. After deciding zentangle really doesn’t translate easily to carving wood, he passed the book on to me. It sat around for months before I even looked at it seriously. It wasn’t until I joined a challenge this past January—through the zentangle group I’m part of on Facebook—that I began finally reading and referring to the book.
For the uninitiated, the most common definition of zentangle is “a method of creating beautiful images from repetitive patterns.” The Zen part of the name comes from the practice of mindfulness, experiencing and attending to each stroke of the pen as you make the repeated designs.
Zentangle® untangled is beautifully produced, with lots of full-color illustrations. Nevertheless, it is a very basic text. Step-by-step directions are given for only twelve of the basic patterns. After Greg paid $24.99 for the 127-page book, it’s discouraging for me, as a beginner, to now need to look elsewhere to learn how to execute more zentangle patterns.
To her credit, Hall explains basic color theory and shows examples of patterns combined with others or embellished with original components. She discusses the varying effects that can be achieved by using different kinds of pens, pencils, inks, and paints. She shows how to use zentangle to decorate journals and scrapbooks, and how to use the patterns in conjunction with photographs. She explains how to transfer designs into Adobe® Photoshop®, which is great, if you have Photoshop®. She also includes samples from the work of other CZTs.
After practicing some of the designs from Hall’s book, I looked for a more comprehensive basic zentangle book. There are many. The one I selected is Totally Tangled by Sandy Steen Bartholomew. It is also extensively illustrated, though most images are black and white. Bartholomew gives step-by-step wordless instructions for 89 designs, showing three to six stages for each. She also includes 24 additional designs for which she does not illustrate the steps, assuming they are self-explanatory.
Totally Tangled is a much smaller book than Zentangle® untangled. It has fewer words per page, is roughly 8.5” by 8.5” (as compared to Zentangle® untangled which is about 8” by 11”), and only 50 pages. Yet, of the two, I feel it is the better value. At the price of $16.99, it delivers many more of the step-by-step visuals that I crave.
Do you tangle? Do you have a favorite zentangle book you can recommend? Please share in the comments below.