What Is Creativity?
Authors and poets describe creativity with insight and eloquence. Rather than add yet another description, I take a different approach and describe what creativity is not.
First, some definitions (from Merriam Webster online):
1. the ability to create
2. the quality of being creative
1. marked by the ability or power to create
2. having the quality of something created rather than imitated
1. to bring into existence
1. the act of creating
Creativity is not a Copy
The Zentangle Method is all about patterns. We deconstruct both familiar and novel patterns into their elemental strokes. Then we teach how to reconstitute those strokes so that you can “paint” with that patterned “color” which we call a “tangle.” New tanglers will say, “I see patterns!” as they become conscious of patterns which were always there.
Early oil painters made their own paints. I remember a scene in the movie “Girl with a Pearl Earring” where the artist ground a certain colored rock and mixed that powdered pigment with oils to make a particular color. In the Zentangle Method, we look at tangles as colors because, like paints, they are also made from basic elements put together in a particular way. We teach how to mix colors of patterns, but we do not teach what to paint.
More importantly, we encourage you to develop your own tangles.
Every day, tanglers all across this world create something new and beautiful with existing tangles and create new tangles which they draw from the deep wells of their imaginations.
The Zentangle community is generous in its sharing of ideas and inspiration which inspire your own unique creations. Even when I follow the step-out (instructions) for a new tangle, I always interpret it, or add to it, in a way that only I could imagine and create.
As you learn the Zentangle Method and new tangles, please do not worry that yours do not look the same as someone else’s. YOU don’t look the same as anyone else. Why should your creations?
One purpose of the Zentangle Method is that you can use it to develop trust in your own imagination and build the confidence to express it in your unique individual style.
I used to make wooden flutes and ocarinas. I strove for a particular tone and range in my flutes. After several years, I was able to consistently get the results I wanted. Once I had solved the puzzle of how to make that flute of my dreams consistently, I did not have the same passion to make copies. I continued to make beautiful flutes for a while, but it was not long before I connected with Maria and I stopped making flutes.
Creativity is not External
Creativity does not come from outside you. Yes, you choose tangles just as a painter chooses colors. But what you create with those tangles comes from within you.
That is one reason we focus on tangling "one stroke at a time." It is much easier to experience a creative flow energized by an engaged imagination if you don’t have a pre-planned outcome in mind.
Inherent in the Zentangle Method is the knowledge that you can imagine and create beyond what is offered or observed. You may even begin to create your own tangles.
I like to play with the word “responsibility” because it sounds a lot like “response ability.” As an imaginative and creative individual you have “response ability.” It is a gift and a “responsibility.” That responsibility can seem a bit scary because our schooling tells us there is only one right answer and that “right answer” is already known. We often see that play out in new Zentangle students who want to make sure they are doing it “right.”
However, there are no mistakes in the Zentangle Method; only opportunities — opportunities to call forth a response that you might never have considered but for that so-called mistake.
Zentangle Practice as Metaphor
Maria and I live in the same way we tangle. We focus on what is the next, most beautiful stroke that each of us can make at the moment that we are making it. We trust our ability to respond creatively and beautifully in the unfolding artistry of our lives and we strive to do that with gratitude and passion.
We invite you to consider applying the principals of the Zentangle Method to the artistry of your own life, one beautiful, creative moment at a time.
You have gifts to offer that only you can imagine and that only you can create.