Zentangle and colored pencil

I took a zentangle class at www.noagallery.com/ a month or so ago.  It was the first class I’ve taken since college!  I loved the class but experienced a bunch of fits and starts when I tried to zentangle on my own.  First my hand was all crampy and did not enjoy holding a pen for that long.  Then I had to do a search for the paper I wanted to use.  In the class we used little squares, which is a common practice for zentangle.  I wasn’t comfortable with the small format size.  I think I was looking for a long-term piece, something I could return to again and again and not have to start with a new little square each time.  In zentangle, one normally uses just a black pen of the marker variety (fine point and archival ink) and a pencil.  The pencil is used to initially draw some boundaries (they call them strings because you create a squarish shape and then divide it up with these strings or lines) and ultimately used for shading.  This shading can contribute to some very fine three-D effects.

I snuck out to an art store and bought myself a large high quality pad of tag board.  It is smooth enough to take the ink lines without bleeding.  I then unburied my “art pen” which is a fountain pen designed for drawing.  I am a big fan of fountain pens in general.  I own about three really good ones that I use regularly.  So it made sense that I would want to draw with real ink and pen if possible.  Turns out this pen is great for these doodles and it works great on the tag board.  Success!  I also bought a set of colored pencils.  I had bought a set of fine-tipped color markers before I took the actual zentangle class but found no success in using them (although I now plan to revisit that option now that I have gathered more information having to do with my personal relationship to zentangle).  Back to the colored pencils:  I tried a zentangle on the tag board and started putting down some color BUT it wasn’t working.  It wasn’t singing.  I let it sit for a day and then threw it out.  That’s my way of dealing with failure:  get rid of it!

And then this weekend THE BREAKTHROUGH.  I got all warm and cozy in bed with NPR, my ipad and a little zentangle book I had bought that fills in the alphabet with zentangle designs.  It’s a good reference book to use on the fly.  I decided that my format would be a series of squares and rectangles.  It’s good to establish such a framework.  At first I was thinking I wanted to fill in fish shapes or turtles, but the squares and rectangles created an easier starting point.  I started doodling.  Then I bravely took out my set of 24 colored pencils and I started filling in the doodles.  But more importantly, I started shading the doodles with the colors versus applying just solid colors.  It worked!  I couldn’t stop.  My hand only got tired after about three hours.  My sister had advised me to not grip the drawing instrument so hard.  When you are having fun that is easier to do.  When you are tense and frustrated, that pen gets gripped like a weapon.

This is the result:


Colors in real life are much brighter

 Next I want to experiment with gilding, paint, markers . . . anything that brings color to this very fun art form.  And then, of course, I am going to turn them into bead patterns.

Hope your New Year has begun on a creative foot too!


9 thoughts on “Zentangle and colored pencil

  1. What a wonderful way to get creative juices flowing, but never called it zentangles. May I follow your lead? I have trouble creating. And yes, what is the book you mentioned? I do enjoy your weekly email and plan to start my Mirrix loom weaving soon. Helen Hart

  2. What a GREAT job, Claudia!!! I'm a zentangle fanatic and couldn't conceive of doing little squares either. I've just been doing 4X6 as I started playing on index cards. I've tried playing with colors but no effects I've liked…colored pencil, colored micron instead of black, colored paper with black pen…you've inspired me to keep experimenting. I love doing the zentangle SO much!! Yours is how big? The alphabet book sounds like a great idea for trying out patterns. I found a paper I like with the microns but would love to hear more about your fountain pens!!

  3. I've been doing Zentangle for quite some time. I have a chronic, progressive pain disease, and have found that 'Tangling' is a way to relax and avoid the pain meds. I forget the pain as I enter into the Zentangle world. I would love to be a CZT and take the seminar to become one, but I live in California and the seminar is in Rhode Island! A bit far to travel, especially with the pain disease, and still a bit out of my financial reach. I hope to save enough money to attend one day, and then be able to go to hospitals, rest homes, and also teach it to those who have been through traumatic events. Police, firefighter, etc. I am also a survivor of abuse from childhood well into adulthood. Am trying to raise the money but it's a slow process. Am also sending money to pay for my layaway on a loom..LOL..big dreams, just not enough money to do everything I want. I really recommend Zentangle for anyone who is creative, or just needs a relaxation technique. It works!

  4. I'm still sitting here watching the snow come down, still avoiding doing my taxes and still creatively bored. So, Claudia…I'm going to scan these pix into BCP and see what shakes out. If it is at all possible to create something even close to “do-able”, I'll zen my own tangle and use that for the now infamous mandolin strap. That is if I don't either freeze to death or get blown out to sea! Thanks, Susan, of the frozen Oregon coast

  5. I am a new Zentangle drawer. I just love this. I hadn't thought about doing something like this! WOW!! Funny thing is I just got my loom a few weeks ago … thanks for sharing such a beautiful piece.

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