Tangling To a Mood

Last night, I laid out a design for a new tangle. Although I know better than to do any art  under electric lights, I was in the mood to experiment with coloring my creation with gel pens. It looked pretty good to me last night. When I broke it out today in natural light, however, all I saw was the terrible pen strokes and the garishness of the piece. 


Because I liked the original layout and patterns, I re-drew the tangle early this morning, and left it in black and white. 

 There are a few minor differences from the original, but this one looks even better to me. 

While I was drawing and finishing this morning’s version, I began to notice that the cleanness of the strokes seems much dependent on the mood I am in while tangling. It’s not that I wasn’t concentrating on what I was doing. It’s that the thoughts of a moment not only affect my immediate concentration, but–because of concentration–affect the way I draw a straight line or a curve. You see, when I started to tangle this morning, I was angry with my husband. The disagreement began last night, was not resolved (he doesn’t believe in “making up” or resolving issues at the expense of his own sleep), and ate away at me during the night, resulting in sleeplessness and a groggy morning. In fact, the day started a few hours earlier than it should have. That’s also when I picked up the tangle. 

For about half an hour–before my husband came down for his breakfast–I was doing fine, since I calmed myself before I actually got started working. The minute his presence made itself known, I lost control of my pen and made a gross mistake. Nothing had been resolved the night before, I was too tired from lack of sleep, and he acted–as is his habit–as though no disagreement exists between us. As my tension built, my drawing got… I guess “sloppier” is the best description. Before he came down, I was in a groove–meditating, one might say. That ambiance was broken, with the subsequent result that I had to temporarily abandon my work or mess it up beyond salvage. 

It took a while to start up again after he left. I salvaged what I could and continued tangling, with both concentration and results improving by the minute. Clearly, how I am feeling at a given moment–my mood–affects how I draw. 

It’s not that I didn’t know about the relationship between my mood and my art until today. I knew this some time ago. What I hadn’t been paying enough attention to in the past is just how profoundly my husband’s presence influences my artistic actions. Rarely do I create when he is around, mostly because he is rarely home during daylight hours; and when he is, he is either sleeping or watching TV. Because of this, I rarely get a chance to experience the effect of his presence on what I do. So today was a revelation to me. Whether due to a meditative state that was interrupted or simply to a conscious observation, I learned something new about myself. 

It is amazing what we can learn when we allow our minds to open up to our experiences…

Happy tangling!

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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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2 Responses to Tangling To a Mood

  1. I love tangling. Unfortunately, my tangling is also affected by the mood I’m in. Most times, I have to escape to solitude before anything will come out right. As I posted in my blog post “when you just can’t” sometimes you just have to try and you’d be surprised what you come out with! I like it!

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