When someone asks me about the Zentangle Method, a few things come to mind. I usually talk about how it is a step by step approach to pattern drawing and then, depending on who I am talking to or what the circumstances are, I talk about some of the philosophy behind the method. Practicing Zentangle is the best way to understand these philosophies. I think every artist that practices Zentangle brings their own interpretation to its definition and that adds to the overall meaning. One of the most valuable and important aspects of the Zentangle philosophy for me is the “No Mistakes” philosophy. It took me years to understand fully what that meant for my practice. When we say there are no mistake in Zentangle, it is not intended to mean that there will never be an unintended stroke, spill, rip or a just plan “ugh”. What we mean is that when it does happen our reaction is not to react with disappointment, anger, or discouragement but rather to embrace it and see it as an opportunity.
This is a major shift in perspective that requires courage and trust. Once you trust and welcome that every stroke on your tile has purpose, beauty, and potential, you start to see your work differently. This can be hard at first. How can you say that what clearly appears to be a mess as potential beauty?
Well, sometimes, it takes time away from the work, sometimes it takes creative ideas for change and sometimes it takes a decision to go in a new direction. Once you open up your mind to this viewpoint you will also notice a new creative flow state. A creative flow state can only be achieved if there is nothing in its way. When an artist gets stuck on perfection, distracted by things that come out not as expected or if one places expectations on themselves that are so specific, you narrow down your success of finding a flow state in your creative process.
However, when you approach your work with openness and welcome all parts of your creative process, you start to understand their purpose and role in the bigger picture. If you believe that each stroke of your pen or mark of your pencil plays a role in all the marks that follow you start to see them differently. You see opportunity and potential. You learn to trust the creative process and embrace the humanness that makes it special. You can start to embrace how this new perspective allows you to focus on the present and then pushes you forward to the next step. Once you implement the “No Mistakes” philosophy in your artistic process you might start to see and feel it trickling into other parts of your life.
Today, we find ourselves in days of “uncertainty”. While this might be true, and this might be part of our reality, what if we took this opportunity to focus on some of the beautiful things that are emerging and all that we are grateful for. I, for one have found gratitude in the extra time at home. I have particularly enjoyed the extra snuggles with my children, discovering a new trail in the woods, spending extra time around the dinner table, working on a jigsaw puzzle, watching a movie, and drawing. I am also finding gratitude in just stopping to take a huge metaphorical breath. Sometimes the world seems to be moving so quickly, and there is so much focus on what is next that we forget to focus on where we are. These past few days, I have appreciated not having any plans. I believe and know that we will eventually return to our busy lives, but as for today I am feeling grateful for this opportunity to rest and recharge. I am trying to take note of how powerful this feeling is. I am feeling grateful for this opportunity to just take a break from it all … and knowing that I am not alone doing it. This experience will change a lot of things for a lot of people, and although there will be difficulties and challenges, there will no doubt will be beautiful things too. There will be discovery, renewal, and awesomeness …. You just have to look for it.
Updated: May 13, 2022...
It is no coincidence that many of the blogs that we are revisiting during Mental Health Awareness Month were written in the Spring of 2020. This was a time when we all were realizing just how important our mental health was. Molly's words from two years ago ring just as true today as they did then.
Leave us your thoughts on the "No Mistakes" philosophy in the comments for a chance to receive the ultimate "No Mistakes" bundle.
- No Mistakes Tote
- No Mistakes Tool Pouch
- NEW! No Mistakes Silver Toned Zentangle MantraBand
- Zentangle Project Pack No. 06: No Mistakes
- No Mistakes Tiles hand stained by Molly Hollibaugh.
Be sure to leave your comment by 11:59 PM EST on Sunday, May 15, 2022 to be included in the drawing.
I think “No Mistakes” philosophy is very similar to our lives. What is done is done, we cannot redo, reverse, or delete our mistakes,
we can only do our best to find a solution to fix it. As long as we are still alive, everyday minute is an opportunity for us to change, fix or rescue our mistakes.
Skylar Kay on
Lizzie Gregory on
Laura Beth Perelman on
One day I decided to watch one of the videos mostly to have someone talk to me! And to be distracted from my downward thoughts and emotions. It didn’t realize it right away but I started to have happier thoughts and look forward to the next video in the project pack series and by the time I was able to receive my first dose of the vaccine I was in a very positive world! I’ll never forget tangling up until the time that my daughters picked me up to take me to get that shot!
You all have blessed the world more than you can possibly know by sharing with us the Zentangle method with it’s accompanying positive messages .. all of them are so very important! And I personally want to thank you for helping me through the past two years and setting me on such a positive course!
Karen Wilson on
So much of this written piece is inspirational and quotable, but these words are so true: “Once you implement the “No Mistakes” philosophy in your artistic process you might start to see and feel it trickling into other parts of your life.” THIS! To be present in the imperfect process of creativity/life and to be free to proceed without the pressure of perfection is a gift. Thank you for this post and for honoring Mental Health Awareness Month.
Mari Coulter on
Laurie Shetler on
M Greene on
to do as my first reaction is still uggggg when my pen does something I don’t expect , so, still learning every day. Thank you !!
pilar sanchez on
I appreciate Zentangle being supportive of mental health awareness and no mistakes philosophy. I’ve struggled with my mental health for as long as I can remember. I found Zentangle at a local art center & had no idea what I was getting into. A year plus later our class has grown into so much more than I expected lead by our beautiful soul czt-whose always expressing that we are Believing Mirrors.
A safe place ~support group ~friendships and an amazing community. Zentangle & all involved & the philosophies have been the best “therapy” available for me. Today my mental health, outlook and self worth are no longer something I dread. I am positive about the future & look forward to tomorrow. Thank you to all those in this ZT community who have touched my life and heart💛
Jennifer K on
Angelina Arcari on
Angelina Arcari on
Thank you for the gift of Zentangle.
Deborah R on May 14 on
No mistakes is just such a simple philosophy. Everything in art, as in life, is so subjective. In order to grow and stay positive it just makes sense to accept things as they happen in our creative process and not as mistakes. You change course and tangle on!
MKay Watson on
Jane Franco on
No Mistakes. How refreshing. And not only no mistakes, but those things that we saw as mistakes are actually opportunities … not to be looked upon with shame or disappointment, but with curiosity and with hope.. with a gorgeous combination of inquiry and faith.
Maria N Smirensky on
Joanna Kohl on
Growing up, in my perfectionist mind, this was a given. Oh, sure, I heard the phrases from others. “There’s more than one way to do things.” Uh – no there isn’t. “Give yourself a break.” Not allowed to! “Not everything goes exactly right the first time.” Sorry, not in my book. Being a left-handed person in a right-handed world, I strove to match my creative endeavors with those around me, sometimes failing miserably. It wasn’t until I accepted the alternative definition, that everything I do is fine, is good, is me being me, that the whole meaning of “No Mistakes [Mis-takes]” made sense.
It’s not a mistake to have the health issues I have. How else would I have met some marvelous people or been able to cultivate the wonderful friendships that have developed? It’s not a mistake to acknowledge my own perceived shortcomings, as I become yet more empathetic to those who ache for a understanding support system. It’s not a mistake to learn to be gentle on myself in all things, to not give in to the paranoia of comparison. It’s not a mistake to be who I am, where I am, today.
Zentangle’s philosophy of No Mistakes has softened me, the pen in my hand merely laying there instead of a death-grip, just like my outlook on life is, now. It’s a matter of perspective, and each day I get to practice this method in my drawing, and in life itself. For this, I thank you.
Ginger White C.Z.T. on