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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!





  • I am not a tangler so much as a quilter, so I am limited as to which designs I can use. When tangling on paper, you are free to change colors, pens, pick up and put down ink to paper as many times as you would like. Sewing is a different story in that you would have to stop, cut thread, trim the thread tail (from front and back side of the quilt), then start new, creating a new thread tail. So I am always thinking “how would I sew this” when looking at designs. However, I have successfully (I think) made my first Zenquiltangle as a practice piece for a quilt I have coming up. I Zenquiltangled a mermaid tail, a fish tail and some other sea life, and will add some faint water movement everywhere else. The block is 12" square so that’s a lot of space to fill up. I can’t wait to see the finished product – having sew much fun with using thread color in my designs! This is new to me and I’m loving my new toy!

    Gina Olive on

  • One thing helped me, as I have some age in me, and a intermittent “tremor” in my hand, at first tangling and seeing this “wavy/shaking” line that I did not intend, there was a thought that came up, “this is bad, this is no good, I can not do it well”, I arrived at letting go of that self criticism, and observed that the unplanned wavy/shaking could be part of the design. GeeWhizzzOhcurrs that made all the difference to keep me going, it may have even helped the tremor lessen…Letting go is a deep source of satisfaction and release of my creativity.

    Polly Martin CZT28 on

  • Tangle each day and let yourself be surprise.

    Diane Ross on

  • Clipping out the ’V’s was an absolutely BRILLIANT idea!

    Margaret Bremner on

  • I love the comment in the third bullet in Kirbie Earley’s post ! Here’s an “add on” to that:

    Offer “Mr. Critic” and “Miss Stakes” (from another tangler !) a cup of tea and quietly slip away and…..TANGLE !!


    Sharon Jerkovic on

  • There are several great books out there, many of which are geared toward new tanglers. I started with google searches and the book “One Zentangle a Day for 6 Weeks.” Three months later I took a beginner lesson. I had a head start which built my confidence to forge ahead.

    Debbie Colton on

  • Relax & enjoy the process

    LInda LAtham on

  • Leave your critic at home. Don’t compare your work to anyone else. Practice will improve lines and circles. All art is beautiful! And, finally, YES, you can!

    Kirbie Earley on

  • Don’t forget the ZEN. Enjoy all lines,curves and dots. Every piece is calming and beautiful.

    Wanda Brown on

  • Refrain from comparing your work with that of others. We all start from a different place, and have our individual eye. Appreciate what you made for you!

    Lynne Koliha on

  • Draw, appreciate your work, then give it away. Spread the joy!

    Terri Young, CZT 16 on

  • Just draw. Tangle your heart out. Sometimes you do work that’s very satisfying, sometimes you walk away disappointed in your efforts. But inevitably you are developing your own style and that is indeed very satisfying. Own, and be proud of that, but you only get there if you make the effort. Not a huge effort at 3.5 inches per tile! Have fun!

    MKay B B Watson on

  • Tools matter! Get a kit. It makes all the difference! My other suggestion is tangle with friends! Learning together is empowering!

    Rebecca Brye on

  • It’s only PAPER! Enjoy the process, the end result is not important. Learn as you enjoy each stroke of the pen. If the overall result is not to your liking focus in a little bit that you do like and “Cut it out”. Worst case……recycle!

    Sharon Robinson on

  • I had an amazing experience recently when I gave away my first tile spontaneously. I often tangle on long flights and the woman sitting next to me was watching a movie and admired my work when I finished. I usually feel no one really would like to have my work but this time the impulse took over and I asked if she would like it. She was so gracious and thanked me so nicely it left me with a lovely feeling for a long time. I smile now as I think of it. Zentangle spreading joy in the world!

    DrKarmaCZT on

  • I love sharing this with my students to encourage them to not copy someone else.

    “Real style is never wrong. It’s a matter of being yourself on purpose.” G.BRUCE BOYER

    Christine on

  • Every Mark is to be celebrated and leads to New opportunities, appreciate the process and hold at arms length away when completed. I receive the greatest rewards in the creative process, that goes to heaven With you😊the second reward is giving tiles to people the moment they say “oh I like that one!” Bonus 🤗don’t take yourself to seriously cut loose and have fun!

    Ashley Villalobos on


    Teri HITCHCOCK on

  • My biggest enjoyment is attending Zentangle class led by MJKEHNE!! She has taught me the art of Zentangle and now I truly look forward to each class. Gives times for relaxation and creativity! Thanks for my wonderful CZT! Malka Shavrick

    malka shavrick on

  • I tell them to look at where your pen is going rather than where the,pen is. A small point but it helps give you better lines!

    Chris Halaburka on

  • Smile, breathe, tangle on……… !

    Valeria Morck CZT 32 on

  • Breath, relax your hand and don’t look at what others are doing. So many times I see new students actually holding their breath and clenching their jaws. We now do a body scan Mindfulness meditation before we begin. It has brought as all closer to each other, treating ourselves and other with compassion.

    Elizabeth KRALL on

  • You never know until you are there! a means to an end is never the way! embrace the experience called "Change!

    christine maskaly on

  • My obstacle is my fear of ‘doing’ it wrong. It’s very difficult when things are right or wrong. How could my attempts at Paradox NOT be wrong if the tangle doesn’t disappear into the page. Do I have to learn the tangles? How do I know if I should turn the tile, is it turned to make it easier to draw? Or for some other reason?


  • I am very new to Zentangling and I feel it is important to add a suggestion for those afraid to try because like me they feel artistically challenged. Don’t be afraid. Zentangling WILL bring out your artistic talent. Before Zentangle, my art looked like a kindergartener’s. Now I proud show off my work!!! I do advise if you cannot find a class nearby, I couldn’t, purchase Maria’s and Rick’s, “Zentangle Primer, Vol. 1” before you look at the more advanced tangles on Pinterest. Amaze yourself and don’t be afraid, even if your high school art teacher flunked you like mine did to me!

    Marilyn Sultar on

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