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CZT Family Tree: Ela Rieger

CZT Family Tree

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 Ela Rieger


Name: Ela Rieger                                                                              CZT#:19
Hometown: Kirchberg an der Murr near Stuttgart, Germany

Favorite place to tangle: In the summer I love to draw a breath of fresh air with the noise and the chirping of birds around the ears, so I prefer to sit while drawing in the coach house, where the neighbors find me for a chat. The other time I sit in my cozy studio under the roof right in front of the window overlooking the valley. My cat is usually next to me on the sofa and purrs or snores.

Favorite tangle: Phicops

My Favorite story or memory about teaching the Zentangle Method: I gave this course a few months after becoming CZT. I was sitting in a cozy living room with sub optimal light next to a nervous 76 year old woman who told me that she could not draw, as the teachers at school had explained to her more than 60 years ago. For this reason, she would always have crocheted and knitted, but would like to try drawing. What a courageous woman, who experienced the Second World War, raised 3 children, worked hard all her life and always put others in the foreground.

This woman had some of my tiles in front of her and clear ideas about which pattern she wanted to draw right at the beginning. It was Verdigogh. Seniors can be very obstinate.

After teaching her the basics and repeatedly explaining that the path is the most important and not the finished product, we began to draw. It was a difficult start, because she really wanted her Verdigogh to look exactly like mine. I calmed, praised, and explained a lot and soothing, and so the 1st tile was finished and ambitious as it was, because your image was a bit shaky, she wanted to try it again and again. That night, she drew the tangle five more times. So, the next day I sat in this living room again and talked to her about her pictures and praised her again and again, when her husband came in, he took one of HER pictures and said in acknowledgment to ME that I had drawn this beautifully because he really thought I had drawn it. After that he realize that his wife had tears of joy in her eyes. I explained that this picture was drawn by his wife and not by me and that she is very talented. That was a magical moment for all of us.

When I was back in this living room after weeks, I found that there was a place for her drawing utensils, that she was very appreciative with her tiles and that the husband had installed better lamps. I had shown the shading to the woman and she was overjoyed to hide so many irregularities. She has learned that in every tile is something beautiful, that is worth finding and is proud of her works. And most important, she is having so much fun with tangling till now.

Her husband explained to me that this trembling in the strokes appeals to him so much, because it brings a very special lightness into the art. I have the impression that this man is now more appreciative of his wife and is proud of her and can now show that.

The 76 year old is my mother and we will soon make an exhibition together. She still draws beautiful pictures and shadows with enthusiasm.

This experience accompanies me in each of my courses, and has shown me that it is not so important to teach technique, but that Zentangle allows you to pay attention to other values ​​that reach deeper than any properly placed strokes. Everyone has their own style that they can be proud of. A tile is not appreciated until it is really done. Every "wrong" stroke is a chance to create a new twist.

Favorite quote: Do not think and speak too much - just do it!  My days are always to short.

 How I use the Zentangle Method in my life: Zentangle was and is my salvation in health terms. I use it daily as a "pain and sleeping pill" and to get to know new patterns. I am proud to have hosted "ElasDailyChallenges.” Each day is a different pattern and Thursday, December 7th will be the 1,000th challenge! You can learn more about the challenge at The Opus tile below features all 1,000 tangles from each challenge!

 There are great people who tangle with me. From the challenge came a project with Annette Plaga-Lodde CZT23. We created Musterquelle patternsource (currently over 2,000 tangles) can be found in a quiet, unobtrusive place, easy to handle as well for german speaking tangler, who are not so fit in using IT. You can find this at

I love intricate and detailed drawing. Unusual projects attract me. Currently I create costumes for fairies for events and like to beautify things of everyday life, bags, watering cans, instruments but also larger things like "people", a VW bus or walls. And of course, I love inspiring people in Zentangle classes.  I tangle nearly everywhere – even on my way to courses. In addition, I use Zentangle in the work with seniors, handicapped and people and in hospice.

If I’m not tangling, you will find me…: In and around my little farm house, together with friends, family and my cat, organizing www.patternsource.ey or on events making dresses and make up and be an actress on this fairy events.

Mosaic Name: ElaRiegerCZT

Website/Blog:  and

Julie Willand


  • Hi Ela, I’m an improvisational bead embroiderer, who has in the last two years found my way into a Zentangle passion. Tonight I discovered your work on the Zentangle Mosaic phone app. I was searching for examples of the Itsy Twisty pattern, which brought up your amazing 1,000 pattern Opus tile. Having drawn a mere 31 patterns on one tile, I can not even imaging getting 100 patterns on a tile, let alone 1,000! I am in total awe that you would even try it. It makes me sad that I can not get the image large enough to see the details. Would you be willing to email a large image of it to me, please? That would be so kind of you. Thank you for all you do to enhance the Zentangle experience for so many people!

    Robin Atkins on

  • Hi Ela! I just wanted to say thank you for the wonderful pictures you took of me. You have such great energy and your smile is always encouraging. I just came back from my first CZT Seminar and I am so glad I me you and all the amazing talented people that were in Providence this past week. I’m so glad that I took the step and now form part of the CZT’s family. Take good care of yourself and keep creating beautiful work and sharing your knowledge. Have a great summer!

    Evelyn Aveledo on

  • I loved this story, so inspiring. It also reminded me that teachers have the ability to discourage as well as inspire students with their words. Your mother being told she couldn’t draw discouraged her from trying. So happy she gave it another try thanks to her daughter. When I was in elementary school I was continually compared to other students who were always better at everything. I was even told I made my O’s and zero’s backwards, seriously!!!! I discovered Zentangle when I was on stress leave from my job. It saved my self esteem was being completely destroyed. Thank you

    Michele Jan 1 2018 on

  • Congratulations on such an impressive accomplishment. I think of you often, you sitting right in front of me, and enjoy the warmth from the beautiful scarf you gifted me. I have it on now! Many thanks and hope we meet again soon.

    maria on

  • An amazing and inspiring story, true to the Zentangle journey! I love how Zentangle unites all of us, I will be sure to check out your blog. So nice to connect with your Mom on an artistic and personal level!

    Dolly Bolen, CZT15 on

  • Your story is very inspiring. I love your comment that seniors can be obstinate!

    Mary Kay Watson on

  • Ela your story brought tears to my eyes. How beautiful you were able to share this with your mother. I love your website and use it often. You are a gift to this community!

    Jody genovese on

  • I just LOVE your! It is one of the most well-used bookmarks on my computer ?

    Carol Graham CZT12 on

  • I was in your CZT class and thought then that you were just the most delightful, amazng person…and this post made me cry – with joy for all you’ve done with zentangle and for the lovely person you are. So glad I got to meet you! Have a very Merry Christmas and the best of all things always!

    Suzanne Durville on

  • It was so nice to learn about you Ela. You have a beautiful story to share.

    Lesley Goldberg on

  • Thank you for this post—beautiful inside and out.

    Georgi Klein CzT #11 on

  • Ela, what a wonderful post. I love that you were able to share your art with your mother. I found your story very moving. Congrats on your 2000th!

    Sandy Kelley-Jones on

  • Ela, what a wonderful post. I love that you were able to share your art with your mother. I found your story very moving. Congrats on your 2000th!

    Sandy Kelley-Jones on

  • Yes, Ela, you really are a wonderful person! :-)

    Anya Lothrop, CZT on

  • I too am touched by knowing more of your story. I love seeing your work in the Mosaic.

    Meg on

  • Ela, I always enjoy your tiles and now with your story they are even more interesting. What a wonderful story you have of teaching your mother. Congratulations on your exhibition! Please do post pictures.

    Fran on

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