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A Zentangle Origin Story

A Zentangle Origin Story

Some of you may know the story of how Zentangle got started.  (Or, not!)  But today I would like to tell you a few things that perhaps you didn’t know. 

When Zentangle presented itself to us, Rick and I had  been together for about a year or so. We were excited about everything in our lives. (We still are!) We loved our work, our family, our home, our town, our friends.  Each day brought more for us to be grateful for. 

Then, it happened. We were gifted this new “thing” in our life, not sure what to make of it . . . but, for sure, we both knew it was important and could not be ignored.

I absolutely loved my work as a full-time calligrapher. I was creating beautiful things and making people happy. It was always a labor of love. And with Rick now working with me in my stationery company, life was great.

So, why was I questioning my life all of a sudden? When Zentangle presented itself to me and Rick, we both knew right away it was important. How could I say I was grateful for this amazing life and not do anything about it. Maybe Zentangle was shown to us as a way for me (and Rick) to show how grateful we were.  The instant we realized there was nothing stopping us from dedicating our lives to this, we quit our day jobs and only looked ahead with no hesitation. 

What was missing in my life was to do something important, something essential, to find some way to give back.  Even more than that (can there even be more?) we get to give others this gift of giving this Zentangle gift as well. Each time a Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT) teaches a class; each time a Zentangle enthusiast shares with a friend how the Zentangle Method works, you get the same you that we get.

And I think that's something important.

And that’s it. That’s all I wanted to share with you today.  It came to me in my dreams, and I could not not listen.

We’d love to give this tile away, I did it while I was thinking how to write this story.
Raised gold leaf, ink, gelly, and

Leave your thoughts below and we will choose a name at random from the commenters on this blog.


Maria Thomas


  • Thank you very much for my Zentangle journey ❤️❤️❤️ I love so much everything you did and do for our community 🙏🏻🍀✨

    Elena on

  • I’m struggling to focus on gratitude during this time of worldwide fear and distress. The stay at home order has given me an opportunity to explore the joys of creating Zentangle art in greater depth. Drawing has been a tremendous blessing in soothing my anxiety. Thank you for sharing this amazing gift with us all.

    Sheree Green on

  • Because of the both of you, many of our lives changed dramatically, both personal and for our loved ones, many of whom got infected with this strange Zentangle virus. This virus is also global and has infected many people around the world. But this virus is beautiful, kind and healing and can be happily passed on to others and we don’t ever need to be protected from it. We can all spread it around! Even the lockdowns all over the world bring out the best in all of us! We share, teach and do stuff we never thought we could ever do. Thanks Rick and Maria, creators of the Zentangle virus!

    Eveline Bendeler on

  • I live in a tiny village of Lower Bavaria, Germany. It is difficult to get started here with Zentangle but I am happy to have a solid growing group of students now. Online I am connected to my fellow CZT mates so I don’t even feel isolated these days.

    Thanks a lot for this present! Inge Frasch CZT21

    Inge Frasch on

  • I am so grateful to Maria and Rick. Zentangle has changed my life. I have developed a awesome group of friends of which we all share the love of Zentangle. Now, even though this pandemic has kept us apart. Zentangle has kept us connects. We are doing traveling tiles between each other. Thank you for this special gift.

    Robin Steinbeck on

  • Thanks to my niece, I first learned of Zentangle on Christmas, 2014. She was 10 years old, and grabbed a pencil and some paper and started drawing. She instantly got my attention, and I asked what she was drawing. Zentangle. Say what??? Give me some paper and a pencil too!!! And that infatuation hasn’t stopped since.

    Ilonka on

  • Well over 50 years ago I was told by my teachers that I couldn’t draw, and I believed them for nearly all that time. I was introduced to Zentangle at the same time that I was introduced to ATCs (Artist Trading Cards) so most of my creations are that size (3.5″ × 2.5″) not the standard 3" square.

    This was in early 2009 and as I have practised, fully embracing the ‘No mistakes’ philosophy, I have discovered that I am tempted to try drawing. I now see the shapes and patterns within objects and KNOW that I can draw that shape or pattern as I used it in a tangle previously.
    I will never be an award winning artist but I know that I enjoy what I draw and other people like it – isn’t that worth more?

    Donna Ritchie on

  • I often go back to your first book on Zentangle. Sometimes just to flick through the illustrations, sometimes to remind myself of the basics but today it was to read about coping with uncertainty ( page 63). Zentangle over the years has enhanced my creativity and textile art but more importantly changed the way I think and cope with life’s ups and downs. Thank you.

    Evanna on

  • I saw your lessons on u tube and just tried it my self. You made it so easy to follow and the results were so beautiful! I got so excited just watching your work. Each new stroke was so exciting. I found myself so relaxed and away from watching TV which is just full of the pandemic. This has been so much fun and has helped to spend time away from friends and family. Thank you so much for sharing your talent and live with me.

    Pamella Dolney on

  • I was first introduced to Zen tangle after getting to know a couple of friends at a farmers market. I was shown paradox and was amazed at the simplicity and yet the complexity of the design. They invited me to join them at a class and I became so engrossed yet so at peace at that first attempt. It is a craft I return to for the Zen feeling I receive, when I am creating special occasion cards for my loved ones. I become engrossed with the easy online instructions. I have shared this beautiful process with my daughters, friends, and basically anyone who will listen. Thank you for taking this special form of artistry and creating tutorials they are so easy to follow. Your passion for this continues to be multiplied so many times over. Thank you for your desire to share this!

    Carolyn Satter on

  • Oh what a treasure that tile would be. Artwork done by your very own hand Maria.
    One can only hope – but for now I am content with more inspiration from your beautiful art work.

    Yvonne Rein on

  • I love Zentangle. During this pandemic I brought out my journals and was inspired to draw again. I’m not good at it but love to do it. It helps me reduce my fear of this virus. My husband died from the flu many years ago but remembering the suffering he went through is very raw still. Zentangle relaxes me and calms me down, for that I thank you for all you do. God bless

    LInda Mensching on

  • Maria and Rick. I’m go grateful that Zentagle presented itself to you and grateful that you shared it with all of us

    Thank you
    Lee-Ann Simpson, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

    Lee-Ann Simpson on

  • Maria and Rick, thank you for this gift—both craft and community—that continually delights and inspires! Especially now. Sending you love and peace.

    Becky Ruiz Jenab on

  • Every evening at 8pm we Howl! ALL of Marin County in California go outside on their decks/porches and HOWL in appreciation to all the Healthcare workers and community workers that are saving lives (and risking their own) during this incredible Coronavirus, scary time. I Howl, and it feels so good to scream appreciation to all those that are helping others. So I also Howl appreciation to all of you fellow Zentangle enthusiasts … because without Zentangle meditation and fun, I would be lost and less focused and, let’s just say, less helpful to my family.

    THANK YOU! To all you Zentangle masters :)

    Wendy Beak on

  • I wish Rick and Maria knew how many times their names come up in casual conversations around our house. I, of course, have met this marvelous pair at CZT 23 training in RI, but my husband and two daughters have not. While working on a puzzle yesterday my youngest daughter casually said, “I wonder if Rick and Maria do puzzles?”

    Deb Thompson on

  • I found Zentangle and fell in love. I not only love the process, the art and the appreciation built into it, I also love the wonderful people that are now in my circle of friends. The Zentangle community is a welcoming, loving, fun, creative group. I’m fortunate to have an active group very close to home with several CZTs, a local community Zentangle group that meets once a month and our “lead” CZT, Nancy Domnauer, who keeps us inspired. Your dream becoming reality has been a gift to all of who practice Zentangle. Thank you.

    Janet M on

  • I am always grateful that I found Zentangle in a very anxious part of my life. My mother was under hospice care, and frequently hard to deal with. I tried adult coloring books after reading that they can be calming, but they didn’t work for me. Then I stumbled onto a Zentangle class and was immediately hooked! It felt creative & forgiving, helped me focus, and gave me an out when I needed to escape reality for a bit. Thank you for your lasting contribution to so many lives!

    Ruth Osborn on

  • In the times of Corona worldwide, the thoughts come back to the word VIRUS. And a funny thought crossed my mind. Isn’t Zentangle too a virus? It has spread exponentially worldwide in a relatively short period. It can happen to anybody irrespective of race, religion, caste, creed or colour. It can happen to rich, and poor, educated, and uneducated. It has spread fast amongst the 60+, and now threatening to move downward. Continent wise, it has gripped North America and Europe very quickly, It is slow in Asia, and much slower in Africa, but when it went to China, it spread very fast there! It has started mutating too now!

    But, it is a benevolent virus. Worth spreading, especially in the present times when the other virus is creating havoc in the world.

    On my part, I have put up 5 mini lessons on my blog, for anybody to get initiated. It’s free for all. Spread it.

    Long live Rick and Maria.

    Thank you all.

    Dilip Patel (CZT 09) on

  • Zentangle has been such a powerful gift to us all. I am very grateful that you brought it to life.

    Trish LaPointe on

  • So grateful for you and everyone at zentangle inc—your compassion, generosity, and creativity have made a positive impact on so many peoples lives.

    Gina on

  • Love to hear the story and LOVE Molly’s Voice Guided Tangle Lessons. It’s the first time I’ve been able to complete a tile. I tangled two rocks with her two lessons, shading included. Thanks so much. Mary Greenheck April 1, 2020

    Mary Greenheck on

  • Maria, I hope you never tire of our gratitude for you and Rick! Your description of how you felt when this as-yet-unnamed experience happened to you is very much how I felt when I discovered Zentangle in 2012. The fact that you two F E L T its importance and chose not to ignore it is why you now have so VERY many friends and grateful admirers all over the world! It is The Method of drawing patterns that sets this activity apart. That you included appreciation as both the first and last step, that you shared your experience with your family and finally decided to share it with those beyond your family, that you chose paper and pen with care, that you continue to encourage and love us through the Zentangle process … ALL of that has brought so much joy, peace and self-acceptance to an ever-growing number of people! And we ALL appreciate you SO much. I am quite sure I will tangle until I die … :) <3

    Jan Brandt, CZT12 on

  • Dear Maria, When you and Rick created the Zentangle method, and started sharing your vision, it was as if you had thrown a pebble into a lake. We see your ripples grow from that first enthusiastic splash. That one pebble produces more ripples that echo throughout the globe. Each ripple makes new ripples of joy, peace, creativity, friendship, gratitude. What a wondrous effect!

    With love to all of you at ZHQ!

    Jane on

  • Such courage to take a dream and run with it. I am so grateful you and Rick took to plunge and shared the joy of Zentangle with us all.

    Lianne on

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