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Advice for New Tanglers

Advice for New Tanglers

Maria writes...

Hello everyone. It's a great day to tangle! I was thinking about new tanglers, and the questions and doubts that may concern them in the beginning. I have been doing this so long now that I have almost forgotten what it was like to wonder "what was the next step?", "did I do this right?", "will this look good?".  

Then it came to me! There are so many seasoned tanglers, with so much knowledge, experience, passion, gratitude...that maybe, just maybe they would be willing to give just one piece of advice to the person just starting out on this magical journey. 

And, just maybe these bits of wisdom might be valuable to the not so new tanglers, too!

So, please, send us your best piece of tangle wisdom/advice in a comment below, and we'll randomly choose from the comments to send Zentanglish goodies! suggestion to new tanglers: Take chances.

This tile was a monotangle called “well well well." After I thought I was done, it seemed it just needed more. I boldly added radiating straight lines from the largest orb, and pencil shaded every other section to create a “folded” effect. 



When finishing this cluster of energetic Mooka, I added a dark background for some drama. (I painted a walnut ink onto the white tile). Added the tiny white dots after the ink was very dry. 



When finished with the center of this tan tile, I drew a few very thick black lines radiating out from the tangling. They were rather “V” shaped. Then added the white lacy lines in an aura around it all. Then,(!) I spotted a pair of tiny embroidery scissors on my desk, and, clipped the V’s out quickly...before I could think of reasons not to!





  • Yesterday I taught my first class. I’m adding “blink” to my steps! Several people mentioned having trouble seeing after a while :)

    Robbin K CZT41 on

  • When I took my first tangle class I noticed that even though we were all drawing the same tangle patterns, our finished products did not look alike. I have been tangling for over 10 years. I draw basic tangles and zias (tangle inspired art).

    My advice….. enjoy it and just go with the flow ( of ink that is).

    Laurie Cohen on

  • Peu de temps pour tangler, l’inspiration ne vient pas toujours, être devant une tuile blanche c’est pas toujours facile alors je cherche une vidéo à suivre et j’essaie d’y mettre de moi soit en faisant une variation soit par la couleur ,juste pour être moi à ce moment choisi. Merci à vous et à toutes les personnes certifiées de nous proposer de chouettes projets et idées 💗

    Aude on

  • Tangling is meditation and it is a journey of self discovery . Find joy in the journey of ups and downs and just flow with it is my advice . Just flow with the flow and treat everyday as a new day .

    Priya Venkatesan on

  • My advice would be……don’t try to replicate someone else’s work, but rather embrace your own style!. And yes even a very beginner has their own one else can express you like you can!. Take inspiration, direction and advice, but then express it in your own unique way. Enjoy!

    Kathy Long on

  • Tangling is amazing! I have been at tangling about two months, but the cool thing about it is, my handwriting has improved. My hand wants to curve, move more smoothly across the page and embellish. One of the many benefits of tangling!

    Janet Thomas on

  • Gina Olive, would love to see pictures of your zenquiltangles. It sounds wonderful

    Carole on

  • As of May 2020 I happily enjoy the method of Zentangle. Did I feel like I knew what I was doing at first, not exactly. However I have always felt grateful while tangling. I couldn’t believe there is a community of humble, giving Tangler’s who simply invite me along in a new journey. Now almost 8 months later, I find myself smiling and excited about every live or recorded session of which I participate. And that’s the phrase – participate. I allow myself the opportunity to let go, learn from others, learn what I can do and how I can grow. Zentangle is enriching my brain and heart and I’m truly grateful.

    Nancy NEedler on

  • Please start with gratitude! Be thankful that you are here and able to hold a pen and make time for your own. Then follow the steps and focus on the proces the result will follow…. enjoy!

    Ellen on

  • It’s about the process, not the product. When I find myself getting too hung up on wanting the final product to be ideal, then I don’t enjoy the process. When I find myself lost in the zen flow of the process, the end result naturally reflect he joy of the experience.

    Leslie Barr on

  • I discovered Zentangle two months ago and I am hooked! My favourite advice is that there are no mistakes and that is so freeing!

    Olga Dendrinou Fink on

  • I became overwhelmed by all the different places online where there were tangles.
    I am also guilty of overthinking pretty much everything in my life, so I took the advice to find a couple of tangles I like and get used to them, how they feel to draw, how the ink flows from the pen, what the nib feels like on the paper, what the paper feels like, and there I was overthinking again. But this time it was in a positive way as I realised I was appreciating my tools and enjoying putting a line down on the paper and seeing what happens. It’s slow progress, but I can’t imagine not having this as part of my life now.

    Marie ANtoinette on

  • There is something for everyone in Zentangle. It’s like learning to read. You need to learn your ABCs first (the tangles and the steps). Then you need to read stuff at your skill level, like “See Spot run! Run Spot run!!!” before you start reading “War and Peace”. So if you are just starting out be kind and gentle on yourself. Once you’ve done some (different for everyone), if you want to move on to more challenging tangles or add another color or learn some new techniques that’s fine but not a requirement. A lot of people like to stay with the basics and that’s fine too. And you should not compare your work to anyone else’s work because that’s not the point. It’s not the finished piece but the journey and how you feel along the way. And perhaps you’ll make friends with other tanglers in the Zentangle community or maybe not. I’m going to use a phrase that is NOT one of my favorites but in this instance it make sense…. “it’s all good”. Happy tangling!

    MaryAnn S-D CZT #1 on

  • It’s just paper! Have fun. Approach tangling with a sense of wonder. If your hand wants to go a different way, or use a different tangle, go with it! Be mindful, but not forceful. Enjoy!

    Tandika Star on

  • When in doubt, aura!

    Peg Farmer, CZT 3 & 7 on

  • Sit down in your favorite spot and start without fear of making mistakes, because there are none. Enjoy the process and clear your mind. It works!

    Eveline Bendeler on

  • So many comments! Before I leap down the rabbit hole of reading, I will leave my advice so I don’t get lost and forget to; I apologize if it is a repeat of advice already shared (but I feel it is worth hearing more than once anyway!):
    Embrace the tangles you know and be open to learning new ones…BUT… (here’s the hard part!) resist the urge to try to collect them ALL. There are soooooo many glorious tangles out there, but you do not need to know each and every one. It’s easy to get caught up in “collecting” tangles, however it can also quickly become overwhelming, and you can lose sight of the gentle mindfulness and simple joy of inking familiar strokes on paper. Knowing there are loads of lovely tangles out there to discover and spend time with at some point on your journey can be quite comforting, and can take off any pressure you feel to immediately learn and master each new tangle that crosses your path.

    Also: some people love the word play of tangle names and enjoy knowing their identity…others don’t worry much about about remembering the names. It’s all good! Don’t fret about names if it spoils your enjoyment. Tangle names are helpful, for sure. I am a “word person” who cherishes the verbal identity of patterns; it’s part of the joy for me, but I know many amazing tanglers who don’t recall tangle names. It’s not anything to stress about.

    Happy Tangling! —Amy in TN, CZT4

    Amy Broady on

  • Embrace the “what if” question and be curious what would happen if you just tried an inspiration. A change of perspective is another key when tangling (and daily life). Just that small distanced view allows you to see opportunities that didn’t exist when focused so closely to your tile. And remember that you are worthy to receive all the joy and calm that you create.

    Mary Rose Feldman on

  • It’s a magical journey…exploring, discovering, learning new tangles. Creating unity and taking all to advanced levels in a fun way… I always found encouragement and cordial behaviour from all tanglers, a big thanks to all, since I was new and only knew the last two pages of the rough copy were my place to imagination, doodles and drawings. Thanks for creating a platform for all.

    Sumita Roy on

  • Give yourself permission to say and try “what if I ….” Follow your impulses; thicken a line, or add an aura, or supersize a tangle,… So many times I’ve taken my piece a step further than I’d imagined by giving myself the encouragement to try something even a bit different.

    Sue Sharp on

  • I have been tangling for 7 years now. This past week I taught my first class online. It reminded me to be patient with myself. I was new to the online setup like they were new to tangling. One stroke/step at a time. It was nice to help my fellow teachers relax and enjoy an evening of tangling.

    Diane Wright on

  • I’ve been tangling about 1 1/2 years due to Doris Wilbur CTZ, who invited me to attend her class to possibly help me through a devastating loss. I cannot thank Doris and the founders enough for the peace of mind and joy I get from Zentangle, especially in tough “can do nothing” times. This and prayer has taught me comfort, self-confidence,and a hidden talent I never knew I had. Thank you!

    Pam Haines on

  • Be sure to enjoy the journey as well as the destination! While creating Zentangle art can seem intimidating to some beginners at first, remember everyone was a beginner at one time or another. I recently advised a very good friend of mine who is a very talented artist herself to “Begin at the Beginning!” It can be difficult to get motivated to create art during this isolation time but remember, be kind to yourself, have patience and just relax. Take time to create daily even if all you can do is five minutes, soon after creating for a few minutes you will be sure to want to continue longer. It is the art of taking time for yourself that is important, self care and loving yourself and your art no matter how it turns out is most important. I have taught many amazing artists Zentangle and they always impress me with their skills after they practice daily or regularly. Zentangle is no different than any other art form, you must practice to advance to learn more, enjoy the process each and every time and most of all, always create for yourself and no one else! Happiness is enjoying your art, Zentangle and everything you create!🖊🖤🎨😊

    Dolly Bolen on

  • Love yourself, no judgement, the time can stand still when you tangle. I think is the most important to make a Zentangle, there are more things but for beginnersThis is a must.

    Love to all of you from Mexico.

    Veronica VAzquez ORozco on

  • If there is any thing other than joy in your heart, your mind needs to be calmed. Tangle to your joy.

    KAthy Y on

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