Moving On

Today, even though my hands were tremulous, I decided to do one last Zentangle or a ZIA. Hopefully, the tremor is temporary and my hands will be steady again in a few days. If not, well… I still have time to practice Zentangle patterns when my body is cooperative. In the meanwhile, I will concentrate on drawing and painting.

This Zentangle was drawn too quickly and imperfectly for me to consider it finished….

For the last 2 months or so, I have been practicing various tangle patterns in my sketchbook and on 3.5″ paper Zentangle tiles. I spent several hours a day trying new combinations of patterns, or trying to master tangles that are particularly difficult for me to draw, whether due to a trembling hand or lack of coordination or inability to get the feel of a pattern. Instead of the meditative benefits of doing Zentangles, I have found myself getting more frustrated, as many of you know. Following the lessons in One Zentangle a Day, it has taken me all this time to get through Day 16. Although I hope to return to this drawing form in the near future, for now I need to set it aside, maybe picking up a new doodle from time to time (there are still several presented in this book and many more in the other books I have). I feel much better when I am drawing what I see or sketching from a photograph or computer monitor. That is more meditative to me than learning Zentangles. 

Basically, as with any new art form, the art of Zentangling takes a great deal more time than I had anticipated. I have followed other One-a-Day drawing books that were more realistic about how long it take to practice a skill. According to the book, I should need no more than about half an hour each day to do a lesson. Although that may be true for many, it has not been true for me. Not only have I often needed hours to feel comfortable with a lesson, there have been many times when I have practiced and drawn for days, trying to get the hang of putting certain patterns together, and reading or viewing other sources about such things as tonal quality and texture, especially as it relates to finished tiles or drawings in my sketch book. I don’t think I am too old for learning new things; I just think that the timeline established in this particular book is not correct for me. But I have learned.

One thing that attempting Zentangle has done for me is make me more aware of natural shading in the absence of a model. It’s not that I haven’t done a decent job of shading my attempts at drawing before; it’s that I really had to think about depth when creating something from my imagination. Should this be more 3-dimensional? Is the shadow deep enough for what I have in mind as background? Is it clear that this tangle is supposed to be the focal point? etc. etc. etc. In my drawing, I simply draw what I perceive so that the shading comes from what I am seeing in front of me. With doodling, I need to think more carefully about where I want my light source. And it is not always the same as I turn the tile to add strokes of ink or shading. 

Another thing that I have been mastering through Zentangle art is patience. Mostly, I have determined that I don’t have any, but that concentrating on drawing has helped me bring some of my impetuousness under control, to some degree. If I think long enough, I can probably come up with a dozen things I have learned so far while practicing tangles, but I am too impatient to think harder right now.

Taking what I have learned so far, and not doing a very good job on the last Zentangle I will share for a while, I am setting my pens aside to think more about other art forms and writing. For one thing, it is time to return to completing a book on changing handedness for writing, the project that originally took me to my drawing teacher. There are other projects which I have put on the back burner, too, such as returning to my lessons now that life is settling down around me again. 

Right now, it is time to pour another cup of tea and figure out where I left off with interrupted projects and which I want to return to first. That’s a form of meditation for me–tea and reading, or tea and reviewing, or tea and…

Happy drawing!


About DrEMiller

Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT). Home: Sint Maarten. K-12 teacher for 13 years (Special Education for 10 years); Post-secondary educator since 2002; Education consulting since 1995. When teaching, held teaching certificates in K-12 special education, reading specialist; and secondary social studies. Doctorate: Educational Psychology Programmer/analyst for 10 years, including project management and training of corporate execs.
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