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A Reminder to Embrace your Zentangle Practice

A Reminder to Embrace your Zentangle Practice

In 2007, we started BLOG Zentangle and began our enjoyable series of conversations within our Zentangle community.

In reading through these blog posts with their insightful comments, we decided to bring a few of them to your attention from time to time. It is easy, for me anyway, to sometimes think of old information as stale information. But these insights and conversations are anything BUT stale!

We invite you to enjoy this post from 2017...

Begin previous post . . .


Julie writes: 
I really do believe that we are our own worst critics. When it comes to our Zentangle art, we know there are no mistakes and no preconceived outcomes, but sometimes (it’s okay to admit it) we compare our work to others and feel inadequate. One comment I get from many Mosaic App users is "I love looking at everyone's work but mine is not good enough yet to post." Today's blog is to tell you to embrace your Zentangle practice, let go of this insecurities and (literally or metaphorically) post that tile!

 If there is one thing that I know, my Zentangle practice is much more about the process, the journey, than it is the outcome. Don’t get me wrong, I love finishing a tile. The satisfaction that I created something, a beautiful piece of artwork, is not something I had until the Zentangle Method. The real beauty to me is not in my finished work, it is in the process of getting there.

I was fortunate enough to have grown up next door to Rick and Maria and was a Zentangle “guinea pig.” I have been tangling for almost half my life but it was not until 2013 when I started working for Zentangle, Inc. that I really kicked my practice into high gear. In the beginning, it was intimidating. I was surrounded by the artwork of Maria, Rick and Molly each day and when my tiles did not look like theirs, I will be the first to admit that I felt discouraged. I felt pressure to tangle more, to learn more tangles and to be better. Where did this pressure come from? Myself. It was all my own insecurities.

It was not until I settled into my Zentangle practice that I was able to let go of my insecurities. I was able to do this when I began to embrace the process, the act of creating, and not just the finished product. It was okay that my tiles did not look like anyone else's, because I created it, one stroke at a time. It was okay that my tiles did not flow like Maria’s, hold as much graphite as Molly’s or have the geometric edge that Rick’s had, because that was their style and I had mine. It was okay that I did not know all the tangles because all I needed was a few of my mac and cheese tangles to make a beautiful tile. It was okay to draw marasu over and over (and over) again as long as I enjoy creating those tiles. Creating Zentangle art is such a personal process, my tiles should not look like anyone else’s.

Share with us in the comments below how you embrace your Zentangle practice and we will choose a commenter at random to receive a Zentangle surprise!

Thanks for reading!
- Julie

Julie Willand


  • Thanks, Julie, for the reminder to embrace our Zentangle practice. I know I have times when disruptive thoughts interfere with my practice. My practice is my practice and neither it nor my tangling need to look like anyone else’s.

    Sandy Kelley-Jones CZT on

  • I don’t get to post on the mosaic as often as I did but I do a tape e v e r y day. I even have a note from my doctor that I can tangle at work in downtimes because it helps with stress…my boss required it! remember EVERY DAY!

    lacey on

  • Thank you for the reminder by reposting this blogpost. I truly think think the Zentangle process more important than the result. I always try to teach this in my lessons too. There is a quote that expresses why you think your work looks less than that of your neighbours in class: “When you are in a workshop and feel that the work of the people on either side of you is better than yours, you think that because you see their work for what it is and your own work for what it is not” . I use this quote often and regret not knowing who came up with it.

    Maria Vennekens CZT #3 on

  • I am looking for a while zentangle art. And I started last week at the moment in my life I need it. I really love the results on each tile. Love that zen art. Now I want to learn more and more tangles.

    Helene G on

  • I started learning how to Zentangle in August when we started house hunting. There were many twists and turns as we found houses we liked and because of the tight market lost out in the bidding. My daily journal of Zentangles shows how I used “one line at a time” to stay calm, relaxed and hopeful during stressful times. I am so appreciative of the process which is now helping me stay focused as we pack to move to our new home!! I keep my Tangle Journals as a reminder of how far we’ve come and my own personal growth as an artist. Thanks to Julie, Maria and Rick for keeping us all sane and “in line…”LOL!

    Annie Sargent on

  • Hi Julie! Thanks for sharing your words about comparing your work with others, and the feelings you had in the past. This Is something I must remember to my students frequently, and I agree with you, it’s only when you enjoy the process one stroke at a time with no expectations about the outcome when your feelings flow and let you feel you’re an artist. I’m going to use your example in my classes. Greetings from Madrid, Spain .

    María Tovar on

  • Always happy to revisit these vintage blog posts.

    Linda Dochter, CZT 16 on

  • I teach Zentangle in the only art store in Anchorage where I am surrounded by the most talented artists. Many worldwide famous artists! My husband is one of those. And many of my student’s Zentangle art is absolutely spectacular (they are way beyond me!!). I did not know how to draw until I found Zentangle. When I first started teaching, I was very intimated and felt inadequate in sharing my simple art. But as I learned more about Zentangle and got more into my own practice, I asked myself, “What is my goal? Do I want to be the best tangler in the world or do I want to simply enjoy the process of relaxing and just tangling, and enjoying all the wonderful benefits I get from tangling?” I no longer am intimidated. It is not about the art or the outcome for me (although I am still always shocked that I can draw!), and besides, most of the time I have no idea where it’s going and what I’m going to end up with. It doesn’t matter. For me it’s all about “totally enjoying the process of putting that ink to paper”, the fun and the warm fuzzy feelings I get when I tangle. I “de-stress”! I am finally at peace and in a whole other world when I tangle and that’s what I try to teach my students. Zentangle has taught me many valuable lessons, which I’m grateful for and I carry with me into my real life!

    Donna Jacobson, CZT on

  • Someone please create a tangle that represents the absolute and genuine positivity that flows from one artist to another on the Mosaic wall! I am always so impressed by the lovely comments posted and encouraged by seeing how everyone helps and compliments, finds positive things about the work of even the most unpracticed artist. That is not seen in any other field that I can think of these days. It’s a great honor to be part of a group like this!

    Jo Lynne Abbott on

  • I love the way time disappears as I tangle, the getting lost in the drawing of deliberate strokes and how one line inspires the next, unplanned.

    Also: what wonderful Pokeroot, Julie – they each wear a little smile!

    Jennifer on

  • Lately I’ve spent more time practicing tangles in my sketchbook than drawing on tiles. I’ll pick a tangle that I want to learn, give it several tries, and experiment with different Tangelations. I’ve had a lot of fun this way partly because I don’t feel pressure to have perfect tangles or a perfect string. I can just sit and draw. When I go back to doing tiles, my tangles will look even better!

    Carly on

  • What a great reminder – thank you!

    Susan Goodman on

  • I love this reminder because I, too, think that my tangles are not good enough to post on the Mosaic. I just recently posted one for the first time. I use Zentangle to help me with my depression and I love to tangle the same favorite tangles when I am feeling bad. I don’t think that I could do too much “marasu” or paradox, they are such fun. Thanks for the re-post.

    Leslie Hancock on

  • I use my Zentangle practice as pain relief. I hate taking any pain meds because the side effects are often worse than the pain. That is when I pick up my pen and get lost in my drawing. I am so thankful to have this kind of relief. For some reason the clock ticks a whole lot faster when I am focused on drawing🤪

    Lesley Goldberg on

  • I spend lots of time in dr. offices, waiting rooms, hospital rooms with my parents and husband. Sometimes it feels like I am simply re-tangling those tangles that I know best because I don’t have time to learn new ones…but nurses, other patients, other family members love what they see me creating! So I have settled in my mind and heART that re-tangles are more than ok…they keep me focused, calm, and the time passes quickly. Don’t know where I would be without Zentangle! Thanks!

    Susan on

  • Thank you Julie for a very timely reminder. I have become consumed recently by my ever-growing To Do list, feeling overwhelmed and a little panicky. When this happens, I have to remind myself that THIS is why Zentangle is so important to me, and why I should aim to tangle at least once a day if I can. It calms me, creates clarity and space in my mind, lifts my mood, refreshes my confidence and reminds me that I can create lovely tiles and if I can do that, I can do anything I set my mind to. I absolutely love seeing others’ work and their beautiful creativity, and I try hard not to compare myself unfavourably. The process is the beauty, the end result is the cherry on the top.

    June Bailey on

  • This is so true – thanks for the reminder. My zentangle practice is something very personal, but it can also be very interactive without taking away from the personal part. I love sharing my ZT art, seeing the reactions of others, being inspired (hopefully without getting discouraged!) by the tangling of others, and collaborating where each artist’s style is enriched by the other without being swallowed up by that of the other. Balancing individual and community. . .

    Pat Floerke on

  • As someone new to Zentangle, but not new to the meditative feelings that are a result of Zentangle practice, this post is so timely. Getting daily tangling time is critical to my well-being. Learning new patterns, without judging my results, is teaching me to “Let go”. I can see a difference in me already! Many thanks to Maria, Rick, the Zentangle crew, and all who continue to teach me.

    Ginger White on

  • Many thanks for this re-post. It is the “kick start” I needed to get me back on track.

    Barbara Lindquist Miller on

  • This is a constant discussion with many of my classes and regular tangle groups. We are all admiring of everyone else’s work and constantly are critical of our own work. But I am always reminded that Zentangle is all about the process, not the outcome. If we end up with something lovely to look at that is a bonus. The real value is in the process. I remind myself of that every day, and remind my students of that as well.

    Deb Prewitt czt8 on

  • I like to remember the love! and enjoy knowing there is always a place to tangle, no matter where I am or what’s going on, it’s a way of tuning in, a practice similiar to meditaiton, where a deep joy of just being is.

    christine maskaly on

  • My daily practice is SO incredibly important to me. This summer has been incredibly hectic and fraught with drama I really didn’t need. It’s left me precious little time to tangle, but I find time each and every day to make at least one tile. Inktober has been a true blessing this year. And I’m not comparing my work this year, but I’m LOVING all of the artwork that everyone who posts on the Mosaic and the FB groups have been sharing. I’m using so much of what I see as inspiration to make my own tiles and continually develop my own style. And yes, Julie… it’s all about the journey. I’ve finally come to understand that deep in my bones and embrace it. Love to all at HQ…. you have brought something into my life that I can never adequately express my gratitude for but I work on it each day.

    Rita Miller, CZT 31

    Lovely Rita on

  • All my life I have struggled to draw, and wanted to be able to create beautiful things, but I couldn’t. Now, I create beautiful pieces of artwork thanks to the Zentangle Method of art. It brings me such great peace, focus, gratitude , mindfulness, joy, and shows me with just one stroke of my pen, I can create beautiful art for myself and others. It’s a nice feeling that so many people that see my art love it, but more important than that, I love creating it and the surprise outcome I get from it with each piece that I draw. I have never been so happy as when i’m tangling or teaching others that there is an artist in each of them and seeing the surprise looks of joy on their faces, when they see what they have created with their own hands! And now I’m using my talents to create dragonflies for those that have lost loved ones to help support their grieving process, as, I too, have lost a loved one.

    Leslee Feiwus CZT 27 on

  • The process brings me calm, peace and joy. Sometimes the result brings a surprising pride “I did that?” other times it brings different emotions. It always brings gratitude for the practice itself. Awareness, intention, inner focus, reflection, and gratitude are staples in my practice. I am so grateful for this journey.

    Michelle Aalbers CZT24 on

  • I embrace Zentangle with heaps of gratitude.

    My CZT, Joanna Quincey has beautifully combined my Zentangle lessons with personal coaching. I take time out daily now in formal gratitude practice to appreciate every different aspect of my life. In the morning I appreciate my tile as I sit down to tangle. Later in the day, I take time out to express my appreciation for my family, and my job. When something “goes wrong,” I will say a gratitude to remind myself that while today something isn’t going my way, that LOTS of things do go my way every day and every hour.

    Here is a good time to express my gratitude to you all at Zentangle Inc, for this amazing practice that is already – after not even 8 weeks – changing my life.

    Heidi Kay on

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