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CZT Family Tree: Alan Quincey

CZT Family Tree: Alan Quincey

We always say that the Zentangle Method attracts really awesome people. We have had the pleasure of working with wonderful Certified Zentangle Teachers (CZT) all over the world and we are excited to share these wonderful people with the entire Zentangle Community. Through our series, CZT Family Tree, we will introduce individual CZTs.

Today, we are excited to introduce Alan Quincey!

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Name:  Alan Quincey, CZT 36

Hometown: I live in Llandrindod Wells, in Mid Wales, UK. A small place but the county town of Powys, the largest county in Wales. I have lived in many places but my affinity goes back to the place of my birth, the City of Lincoln, also a county town of the second largest county in England, Lincolnshire. It is where I studied art for five years, between the ages of 14 and 19, before training as an art teacher in Leicester.

I taught children for six years before entering industry as a graphic designer and typographer, with occasional forays into university lecturing and leading many calligraphy workshops throughout the country.

My favourite zentangle teaching story: At the time of writing, I have been a CZT for two weeks but I have taught the method several times before, to my peers ---- groups of old crumblies. The most notable was a bunch of about 60, prior to a luncheon. They had no idea what to expect.

I introduced the method and my connection to it, then I handed out paper tiles. They had to draw with anything they had, a ballpoint, a fountain pen, a pencil, etc. Then, as you might expect, the protests resounded. "I can't do that!" "I can't draw!" "I can't draw a straight line!" (Who can?)

We did the first tile from the Primer with assuring success and moved on to making a mosaic. I could see there were far fewer than 60 tiles on show. Many of the men, highly self-critical, deeply embarrassed, had slid their tiles into an inside pocket! With a quip and a joke (I knew them all by name) I persuaded them to include their tiles and I mixed them to hide identity. There was an instant buzz of pleasure and appreciation, with amazement at their collective ability. Whoopee!

How do I use the Method? My life has been involved with visual creativity, drawing, graphics, lettering, typography, calligraphy. As the years advance, I often find there is a creative block. I go to my work space but nothing happens. That is one place where Zentangle fits in. I take up tile and pen and, following the method, on stroke at a time, I find a sanctuary of spontaneous creativity. Breaking the block may not happen immediately. It may take several tries, one tile at a time.

My connection with Zentangle: Well, it goes back to a time before Zentangle existed. Way back, it could be thirty years, I can't recall the date, I was at a residential calligraphy workshop at Dillington House, in Somerset, UK, led by the renowned Peter Thornton. Peter had invited a dozen or so people from the USA and one of them was a lady called Maria Thomas. After the event, we kept in touch from time to time, both taking pleasure from each other's work.

Shortly after my Golden Wedding, my wife became increasingly ill. My role changed, to the exclusion of many things and I lost touch with Maria. My dear wife died in 2014 and, in the months which followed, I was persuaded to clamber into the 21st century. I got a smart phone. I got a tablet. I learned to email and message and post.

One day, clearing accumulated "debris" in my micro work space, I found a large envelope, long forgotten. It contained a print of a beautiful botanical painting by Maria, sent to mark our golden wedding seven years previously. Her letter with it suggested I might search their zentangle website. Well, now I am equipped to do it, so I searched. I was surprised, I was intrigued, I was fascinated. I tried and I was hooked.

Whilst painting and lettering never left me short of things to do, there were still major gaps in my new life, which I had not fully recognized. To a large extent, Zentangle method and practice helped to fill those times with concentration, exploration, distraction and gratitude.

And then, Maria and Rick visited Wales, almost three years ago and the true reconnection was made. Deep joy !


Another connection: At the start, I showed  the Method to my daughter, Joanna. From her backgrounds in nursing and policing, she recognized the benefits which could be gained from Zentangle. She is now Zenjo CZT ---- but that's another story.

You can get to know Jo Quincey here.


Zentangle Mosaic Name: AlanQ_CZT36



  • Beautiful story, Alan. And beautiful writing too. So glad you are a part of the CzT family.

    Miriam Zimms on

  • Such a beautiful piece of work, and heartwarming story, Alan! The ‘old crumblies’ gave me a good grin, too! That you got to meet Maria at a Peter Thornton workshop is icing on the cake (says a fellow calligrapher!) Bravo for all of your forward movement!

    Shawna Oertley on

  • Loved reading your story and your finding your way back to a wonderful connection from years ago. Thank you for sharing.

    Sue-Ellen Flescher CZT 21 on

  • Loved reading your story and your finding your way back to a wonderful connection from years ago. Thank you for sharing.

    Sue-Ellen Flescher CZT 21 on

  • A wonderful and diverting story! When we are able to restart, please demonstrate Zentangle to us all at Probus.

    Carl Hughes on

  • What an elegantly written, uplifting and fun account of your Zentangle life. Having met you in person I can also add that you are kind, generous and have produced an inspiring collection of beautiful and varied artwork. I love all your work. The clarity of your line work is wonderful as is your marvellous interpretation and composition. How lovely that you found Zentangle not only for your own nourishment, but that you’ve ‘passed this on’ to Jo and indeed become a creative force in the wider Zentangle world.

    Heather Lucey on

  • Love this story! I’ve been so interested in your work from the time you first started posting in the Mosaic App. I remember Maria sharing just a blurb about the fact that you knew one another and have followed you ever since. I’ve also known Joanna’s work for quite some time but didn’t realize your connection to one another until the last year or so. Wonderful to read about you. Happy tangling!

    LovelyRita on

  • Dear Alan, I have delighted in your Zentangle work from the beginning of your adventure on Moasic. I also follow Jo. It is such a joy and inspiration to see your posts. Your experience and talent with calligraphy and painting shine through all of your Zentangle posts. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I am so blessed to be able to participate with this wonderful Zentangle family. So glad you are a part of it!

    Kathy Wright-Starr/StarrSongTanglerCZT12 on

  • Loved to read your storyAllan. Thanks for sharing it.

    Maria Vennekens on

  • I know a little about you from my communications with Jo, but lovely to get to know more about you Alan, and how you came to Zentangle and what it brings to your life. I always enjoy seeing your pieces, they have a precision which reflects your background, but with a true Zentangle twist.

    Jem Miller on

  • Ah, I would recognize your writing style as coming from someone with a British education. The British are much better wordsmiths than are Americans!

    Your depiction of tangling as something that involves “concentration, exploration, distraction and gratitude” is so succinct and comprehensive. Well put!
    I would love to see your calligraphy!!

    Lynda Berman on

  • Lovely story!

    Linda Rios on

  • Dad, you know that I am eternally grateful that you had not thrown out Maria’s letter and then found it 12 years later!
    I would not have found Zentangle without you finding that letter and life for me wouldn’t be as it is now!
    As someone who had never embraced technology until you were nearly 84, you have not let that stop you learning how to post on the Mosaic App and Instagram and then, more recently, joining Zoom events. I know that Zentangle has provided a vital creative lifeline and new friendships. Your friendship with Maria is a joy.
    Keep tangling!!

    Joanna Quincey on

  • Thoroughly enjoyed reading your story. I have met your daughter which is how I found your story.
    It is always wonderful to hear about friendships from the past coming back in to our present. Very inspiring to hear how your skills from your career developed to becoming a zentangle teacher.

    Cheryl Wilson on

  • What a most magical journey! And it’s true, I was enamored with your work, and fascinated with this most proper of British gentleman. It took the term “pen pals” to a new level. Thank you for your friendship and inspiration, guidance: in all things “letter-y”. And, how the penstrokes took us in direction unanticipated. Love this story. Thank you, from one of your (many) calligraphy groupies.

    MariaThomas on

  • What an inspiration … I can only hope I continue to be such a passionate artist like you when I grow up.
    Thank You for sharing your story.

    Molly on

  • Nice to meet you Alan and hear about your Zentangle journey. Congrats on becoming a CZT!

    Nancy CZT18 on

  • What a wonderful story! It brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing.

    Kris Grinstad on

  • Mr. Quincey, your story is heartfelt and your Zentangle artwork is exquisite. I am particularly drawn to your creative labyrinth. Simply beautiful! Thank you for sharing your story and your lovely artwork.

    Gini Shimabukuro on

  • I loved this story! I laughed out loud at his comment about the group of old “crumblies.” Yea for you Alan for clambering into the 21st century!

    Lynnda Tenpenny on

  • Wonderful story….Thank you for sharing

    Donna Perrino on

  • Such a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing it. Love your art piece.

    Rimona Gale on

  • Alan your labyrinth is so engaging! The tangles capture the rhythm of the path so beautifully. Thank you!

    Sue Swanson on

  • Thank you for your story! Wow – the journey continues to amaze and inspire!

    Mary Ellen Ziegler Czt33 on

  • Thank you Alan! That’s an amazing and inspiring story. I’ve been a fan of Alan and Joanna for about a year now and they continue to amaze me with their creativity and beautiful tangling.

    Linda Elkin on

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