Mini Tiles and Their Uses

Such a prosaic title!

It’s Day 20 in One Zentangle a Day, and I can’t think of a way to get one of the new patterns to work into a tile. 

Ever since the preface to Chapter 2 (Day 8), I have been creating mini tiles (1/4 of a full tile) to serve as  a glossary of the pattern names and to give me an idea of each pattern’s tonal value in comparison to other motifs (the latter was the preface activity). The photo shows one of my sketchbook practice pages and the mini tile I created once I thought I was ready to actually use the pattern. 

For today, Day 20, three new patterns were introduced: Jetties, Sampson, and ‘Nzeppel. I like all three patterns, which remind me of Christmas. And maybe the reminder is what has me stumped. I can think of ways to use two together, but once I try to figure out what to do with the third, my mind goes blank. Specifically, it is ‘Nzeppel that gives me trouble. The book’s example tile uses three more organic patterns, and looks great–except that the addition of ‘Nzeppel to that tangle creates a distortion of the flow of the combined other five patterns. 

from One Zentangle a Day, page 66

To me, this tangle looks like a rollercoaster cutting through a beautiful, peaceful forest. The author claims that the white space it helps create moves the eye through the tangle. Maybe. It just adds disconcerting imagery to my eye, no matter how I view it. I would love this tangle if it eliminated ‘Nzeppel, or substituted something less jarring in its place. To me, it looks like the author had as many problems trying to tie in ‘Nzeppel as I am having. It should work, right? It’s a pattern that’s both organic and geometrically pleasing on its own. But it doesn’t.

The mini tiles I have created help me test how well patterns go together before I put them on a tile. When I put these three tiles together, I feel dissonance for some reason. Yet when I try ‘Nzeppel with other more geometric patterns, there is a flow. Here are some patterns that I think would work well with ‘Nzeppel. 

Using any of these patterns with ‘Nzeppel should work fine. The pattern just doesn’t work that well in combination with Jetties and Sampson, even though it might work OK with either. 

Yeah, I know. Here I am new to the art form and already I am a critic. Well, I can appreciate dissonance in a lot of art works; just not in one that’s Zen based and is intended to be a main focus in the meditative process. And this is the second time in three book days where the assigned use of patterns leaves me clueless. At least I got a fish out of Day 18.

That the use of the mini tiles can help me decide which Zentangle motifs will work together harmoniously is important to me. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am no spring chicken. Time is important to me, and I don’t enjoy having to put patterns together that strike me as too contrasting. Unless there is a particular message a work of art is intended to convey, I prefer relaxing art to flow. So when I am stuck with a string area that I don’t know what to do with, I turn to my mini tiles as sources of inspiration, flow, and tonality, the last of which is the reason the author introduced them in the introductory passages to the Chapter 2, of which Day 8 is the first lesson.

There are a lot of good things about One Zentangle a Day, but there are also sources of  frustration. Some of the frustrations I have encountered so far deal with the dissonance described above, and with “how to” illustrations that provide inadequate information, a topic I have dealt with before, especially in the post about the Locar pattern where I question which of the several versions viewable online is the basic pattern (among other complaints regarding the development of Zentangle–the philosophy as well as art form). 

The good things about the book far outweigh my complaints. These include the effort the author puts in to giving the learner basic art lessons on the color wheel, tone and its uses, transitions, flourishes such as the dew drop (which I haven’t discussed yet), and artistic segues into different media on which to tangle (papers, cloth, mica, canvas, etc.), tangleations; tangling instruments from Micron pen through watercolor, ink, colored pencils, and fabric dyes; even jewelry making and ornament creation. She covers quite a bit in the 42-day course, so that learners primarily interested in one art form over another can get some idea of the versatility of the Zentangle patterns when used for other than meditative purposes. She takes Zentangle from meditative philosophy to artistic tool. 

Personally, I gave up on the idea of Zentangle as a meditation tool long ago. I was becoming too frustrated with some lessons and certain patterns to even consider a meditation session while working. 

Not long ago, I was ready to dump One Zentangle a Day and use a different book, at least temporarily. But I found that the flow of the lessons has been, so far, a relatively smooth experience that is rich in artistic information, making it difficult for me to do more than supplement this book with information and patterns from other books and the Internet. 

The best idea in this book is the mini tiles for use in establishing tonal qualities. That I found another use for them–helping me decide which patterns work well together–is a bonus. I hope you find your own bonus.

Happy tangling!

(And I just thought of how using ‘Nzeppel as a window might work. 😊)



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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7 Responses to Mini Tiles and Their Uses

  1. Grandtrines says:

    Reblogged this on Still Another Photoblog.

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