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Back to Basics and Beyond Again

Back to Basics and Beyond Again

Julie writes...

Last week we concluded our Back to Basics blog series with the announcement of our TWO new Zentangle Kits. We are so excited to share these kits with you and see where they take you on your Zentangle journey.

We have been focusing on the basics of the Zentangle Method and some of you have asked, "then what?" After you have "mastered" the basics, what is the next step? Do you learn more tangles? Try black or Renaissance tiles? Add color? Where do you go beyond the basics?

The short answer: There are no mistakes, so you can go wherever you want. You don't even have to go beyond the basics. There are no "rules."

For those looking for a little guidance, I have asked a few of us here at ZentangleHQ for their tips and ideas...

Maria says... Whenever I have a chance to sit and tangle, just for the pure joy of it (not work related) I grab a pen, the closest clean tile, and put down the first thing I think of. Oftentimes, it’s a mooka or poke leaf or huggins. Now and then a blossoming tangle, like fengle, auraknot, dingsplatz, or a seed tangle like waybop or mi2. I almost never draw the basic tangle. I enhance just about everything with auras, rounding (to add strength and drama). Then some tipple or dudah. You get the picture. By that time, I’m off! like a tangle of tangles! Stuff just comes out of my pen. . . until it doesn’t, so I either stop or “rinse and repeat” with a different tangle. Always adding auras and little details. . . and fun. Don’t forget the fun!


Rick says... I might decide ahead of time to add a fixed amount of auras, or decide what to do once the auras begin to touch . . . and then watch what happens. It is a fun twist on our idea that the elegance of limits can often inspire increased creativity in unanticipated directions.

Julie says... I love to tangle the same tangles over and over again, but each time trying something new. It is like going out for coffee with a friend, but each time you change your coffee order. Once you feel like you have mastered the basics, go back to those first four tangles that you learned and keep drawing them, but on different color or shaped tiles. Use different tools. Explore different sizes and techniques. The basics have so much to offerI

Molly says...I tangle because it makes me feel good. Creating in general makes me feel alive. Its nourishing and inspiring. Finding ways to access that feeling is important to me. Zentangle provides easy access to creativity for me. I have learned that I need to embrace what is familiar first in order to find room for new thoughts and ideas. I often remind myself that Zentangle is about repetition. In fact, a true practice is something you do over and over again. It is through the familiar behavior that you gain the strength and clarity to incorporate in something new. When we find things in life that we are passionate about and excited about it is easy to get caught up in "wanting more" mentality, obsessively trying to learn all there is to know. It's easy to become overwhelmed thinking you need to know all the trending tangles or explore every new material or be the one to invent the next new technique. In reality, it is simply about putting pen to paper in a way that feels good to you. Embracing the repetition is important. Once you have tangled the basics many times slowly integrate in something new. Change things slowly and let the new things gradually become familiar before moving on. Focus on the tangles and techniques that feel good. Allow room for growth. Take chances and embrace mistakes. Most importantly remember that all of this happens one stroke at a time. Focus on your next stroke and so on ...

Martha says...If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed with the question, "what next?", I recommend sharing the Zentangle Method with a friend. Sharing the method, one stroke at a time, will give you a whole new appreciation for this basic strokes. When you are showing someone else, sometimes you see new opportunities that you didn't see before and the answer to "what next?"

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We have been having so much giving away new Zentangle Kits that we wanted to give away one more! Share in the comments your best advice for where to go beyond the basics and we will choose a commenter at random to receive a Zentangle Kit - Classic.

Thank you to everyone who commented on our last blog, A Zentangle Timeline. We enjoyed reading about YOUR Zentangle journey. We have randomly selected 3 of you to receive a Zentangle Kit - Classic. If your name has been selected, please send your snail mail address to

  • Linda Stephens
  • Lucinda Mathews
  • Cheryl M

Julie Willand


  • Once I find a tangle I really enjoy it shows up in lots of my tiles. I find so many ways to to play with that pattern and find out the possibilities are endless. I just started my first ever Opus tile and I love taking my time adding more and more to it, savoring it from day to day, not rushing through. I think this is my current Basics and Beyond. There’s always a new idea to learn from others and take that into your own dimension too.

    Linda Elkin on

  • I tend to use the same tangles over and over again but try to bend and twist them into something new. The basics are comforting to me as I know them so well.

    Cathrine Nicols on

  • I keep Post-it notes everywhere around me so that when I get an immediate idea or inspirational Spark, I jot it down. I keep a small pouch case with supplies in it, and in my travels, so that when I’m anxiously waiting for my name to be called for my appointment or I’m waiting for my husband’s appointment, I can doodle and see what happens. Sometimes my pen and paper just communicate without my control and I love it when I’m in that type of a flow. Sometimes that’s when I do my best and creative work. I relate it to something similar of when there is very little food in the house ([IMHO] and I have to come up with a creative meal to avoid going to the store. I do much of my creating late into the night as well. And then in the morning I can’t wait to get up and get a Pen in my hand… I have a volunteer job that requires a lot of hours but somehow I managed to sneak in a little tangle here in there even if it’s just on the corner of a piece of paper. I take those Post-it notes and those corners and snip them out and tape /glue them into my journal book. I have just recently filled up all of the space in my first Zentangle Journal book, and it’s bittersweet that I have to start a new book. But I’m excited to build a library of all the things that inspire me or that I have learned or taught myself. I hope that my kids, grandkids or even great grandkids find it pleasurable someday when they’re going through my things. I have included some poetry and some pictures.For many years, I thought I was only good at coloring someone else’s work, but now I can color my own work. This makes me so Happy and Relaxed. I have never in my life felt the way that I do about Zentangle. This is the one thing that Fully motivates and invigorates me.

    CeCe on

  • For me I challenge myself to put pen to paper every single day. Even those days that I don’t really ‘feel like it’ those days I go back to basics. I place those first corner dots. Usually on a Bijou because I love to tangle tiny. I look at it I convince myself I can do this I just need to start sometimes it takes a while. I draw my borders never really knowing if they will be straight or wonky I prefer wonky then sometimes I’m surprised when the borders are straight. Then I tell myself injust need to draw something… my fav quote is “take the first step in faith and the next step will be revealed to you” when applied to Zentangle®️ It becomes “make the first line/tangle in faith, and the next will be revealed to you”.

    Invariably, what ever was bothering me becomes secondary and the tangle time is my focus. Love how it works everytime. I have tangled daily for almost 300 days now. Shooting for a year.

    Nita Ott on

  • I have started using basic tangles as the string. The enlarged size of a basic tangle gives me a lot of organic space to embellish and add smaller different tangles. It is amazing how versatile the tangles truly are.

    Rachael S. on

  • I am still a fan of the most basic black and white. I find myself using familiar over and over. I really have to find a new tangle pattern to get out of my comfort zone. But I still use those old familiars the new

    Diane trew on

  • I’ve enjoyed Zentangle so much but have been overwhelmed with life this past year. I feel like I’m starting over and that’s how I’m tackling this…getting back to Zen, back to my comfort. Thank you for the step-outs! They’re a great way to begin again!

    Kellie May on

  • Perfect and yet wabi, sabi! Which means to say perfectly imperfect. An in nature a flower is perfect with its various imperfections

    This is how my journey has been. I tangle whenever and wherever the opportunity arises. Thanks to this great community I am always comforted.

    Lynda Moore on

  • I love mixing in a new tangle I’m learning with the familiar basics. It brings the “old and new” together in surprising ways. I experience the challenge and excitement of the new and the comfort and ease of the “old friend” tangles. What a great combo!!!

    Carolyn Thomas on

  • After many years of tangling, the “what next?” took me to CZT training and now I’m getting tremendous satisfaction out of sharing this practice with others – and in challenging myself to answer their “what’s next”!

    Jenn Shaffer on

  • I teach a group at the Veterans hospital here in Erie. I show them the basics, but am always amazed at how they interpret my instructions! I will then go home and try to duplicate what they have done on my own tile. I also use inspiration from other tangles posted on Facebook.

    Mary Kay Cass, C.Z.T. on

  • Oh my …back to basics and out into the world again. Recursive like life….keep coming back!

    Thank you …with much gratitude to all!

    Mary Ellen ZieglerCZT33 on

  • I like to explore tangleations. So far, I’ve seen about 20 different “Tipple Tangleations.” It’s the simple ones that offer the most surprise.

    Linda M Dochter on

  • I start with the basics that I am comfortable with and when I feel more confident, I try a new tangle. When I’m finished, I either say “ great job”or I tell myself, “it is only paper tiles and ink! Nice try! Next time try a different tangle” and move on!

    Zipporah Rosenblatt on

  • I start with the basics that I am comfortable with and when I feel more confident, I try a new tangle. When I’m finished, I either say “ great job”or I tell myself, “it is only paper tiles and ink! Nice try! Next time try a different tangle” and move on!

    Zipporah Rosenblatt on

  • The very essence of Zentangling is finding that magical moment between uncertainty and Aha! The quest for that state of mind that allows nothing to become art.

    When my daughter was little she would say “I’m bored.” I would reply “Congratulations!”
    I challenged her to do nothing for as long as she could. To achieve a place within herself that didn’t need TV, games, or anything … Just her own imagination finding something to do. We still laugh about that today. And she still tries to lie still and stare at the ceiling for as long as she can. It’s a great exercise.

    My sister is a new Tangler at 64 … She has been Zentangling in her mind, no pen and paper. She finds it very relaxing and her mental creativity is always perfectly drawn! Her physical tiles incorporate her mental tangles. Its a great challenge putting this all together …

    Wait for a quiet moment, lie on the sofa, stare at the ceiling and imagine drawing a Zentangle.

    Or, do what I did and try your grandsons virtual headset device and Zentangle in 3-D!

    Ann Baum on

  • Go beyond the basics: I draw basic tangels and try embellishments that I haven’t used for a while. But often I’m so in the flow that I forget the embellishments even during the drawing process. 😉

    Claudia on

  • I love the creative inspiration, in our tangling group. I love seeing other CZT creations and the way they may do a pattern, and how they may have embellished a pattern. I am often pleasantly surprised.

    I love the inspiration ! on

  • The most exciting gift I received for my birthday this year is 150 Prismacolor premier pencils. Since I got them I’ve been exploring with amazing colours! These pencils have opened up a new door for me. I still love the basic zentangle black on white with shading but my heart loves to put vibrant colours onto pretty much everything I’ve been drawing. Tangling is taking me to all kinds of new places! Thank you!

    Deanna on

  • Sometimes I just need to get a tile out and start tangling. There is something so very reassuring about the basic tangles, auras and tipple. A lovely “what next” has been the Project Pack collection.

    Catherine Gisby on

  • I love looking at other folks’ work, marveling at the embellishments they use or how they take a tangle and use it in a completely different way than I’ve previously considered. I try to use some of those when I use that tangle again or maybe on another tangle. The different tangellations prompt creativity for me. I particularly enjoy the step-by-step videos from Zentangle and other CZTs that help me refine my strokes.

    Tommye Morrison on

  • I find that every time I teach a basic 101 tangle class that I myself see lots of new ways to create the basic tangles and add it to my class. The possibilities are endless! I love my Zentangle practice and everything about it. I’m going through some difficult times right now, and I find that by sitting down and tangling it relaxes me and calms me down. It gives my mind focus and clarity. This practice is very important to me and I love to share it with anyone who would like to try this method of relaxation. Thank you Rick and Maria for creating this art method.

    Leslee Feiwus, CZT on

  • I have joined several online groups who select a different string each week and a list of tangles we can choose from. We then create a tile using our knowledge and creativity. It is then posted online so we can see and compare with others. This is the perfect way to learn, deepen our knowledge, and use our creativity. Love it!

    Carol Roenbaugh on

  • I enjoy looking at the Primer and the Zenthology and selecting different tangles to try. They challenge me and it’s always amazing how I’m able to create something beautiful. If something seems too overwhelming, I always fall back on Hollibaugh.

    Sharon Laddusaw CZT37 on

  • Zentangle brings me joy…I look so forward to finding time to draw and get immersed in the drawing.
    I also enjoy the blogs…they inspire me to try something new and/or different than what I’m used to doing!

    Dianne on

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