Variant Title has been added to your shopping cart.    View Cart   or   Checkout Now
Early Zentangle Thoughts

Early Zentangle Thoughts

This week in our Back to Basics series, Maria reflects on some early ideas they had about the Zentangle Method. 


--- + ---

Maria writes:

In the early days, when Zentangle was just a smile in our hearts, Rick and I knew that this new thing we happened upon, would be totally and inexplicably magical.  We were obsessed with sharing this drawing system with whoever would dare to listen.  I had dreams about how it would grow, by leaps and bounds. But my initial thoughts about who would love this new artform was …  wait, wait, get this … children.  I thought that it would be the next “Pokémon” trading card phenomenon and instead buying cards with images already on them, children would draw the cards themselves!  Imagine children of all ages, drawing all the time to keep up with learning the new tangles that would appear all around them.  They would stop watching TV and playing video games and tangle instead. Maybe even teach their friends and siblings to tangle.   

I imagined that we would teach sessions online, to kids all over the world, without speaking a word, just drawing, so that people that spoke all different languages, even the deaf community could understand. It was one of our early beliefs that our tangles had to be simple enough to teach without saying a word. 

Imagine a world where creativity outranks the tough kid in the schoolyard. Everyone would trade two of Jimmy’s tiles for one of Sarah’s.  They would trade them, collect them, maybe even sell them. Maybe play games with them.  But the best thing?  They would create them.  And guess what? The kids (in my imaginary world) were not so stressed out.  They had a way to meditate, without even knowing what the word meant. 

So, we began by teaching in schools.  All ages. Anywhere that would have us. 

And we continued to teach more and more to people of all ages. As we did, a funny thing happened. As much as the kids did enjoy tangling, we realized that there was another group that was starving for creative connection. We had completely overlooked the obvious, it was adults that wanted the classes, and loved what it did for them. This was all before we knew about the

“great” things Zentangle could do. When folks started coming to us and telling us how Zentangle helped get them through especially bad times, or dealing with pain, or giving them back their missing confidence, well, it was then that we had found our calling. 

Funny enough, most of the people we taught just wanted that feeling of creativity back, like when they were children: that confidence that somehow slips away or is discouraged as we grow older.

I love how Rick and I learned just how magical Zentangle is, along with the rest of you.   

We listened as we taught and learned from you all.

We are and will forever be grateful that we listened. . . to you and to what our hearts were telling us.

Let us know in the comments what YOU have learned from the Zentangle Method and we will pick a commenter at random to send a special Zentangle Surprise to!

 --- + --- 

Thank you to everyone who commented on our last blog, Back to Basics, and shared with us how you found the Zentangle Method. We have randomly selected Sarah W. as the winner! Please email with your snail mail address!

Maria Thomas


  • My first real experience with Zentangle was back in 2011 when I was diagnosed with an incurable blood cancer. I was having 2 tandem stem cell transplants at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL. They have a wonderful Arts in Medicine department there! There was a huge circle divided up and some small handouts about the Zentangle method. I copied a couple of patterns in the large circle and took the handout. I started to do research and found lots of information online. I tangled in a 3 ½ X 3 ½ spiral book until it was filled up. The next year, when I was better, I went on a cruise and everywhere I looked I saw “tangles”! I just copied them and continued with my book and also some card stock. I was a card maker and I put them on my cards. I gave one to a friend and we decided to take a class. As soon as I did, I knew that I wanted to become a CZT! (So did my friend.). I went to CZT #12 and she went to #13. I thought I knew a lot but I really learned a tremendous amount of information. I never expected to get my money back (I really just wanted to give back to Moffitt Cancer Center but that didn’t work because I lived 1 ½ hours away. I got busy teaching here and there and loved every minute of it. I made a lot of friends along the way and did earn my money back. I was in remission for 10 years and this Feb., my cancer came back with a vengeance! I am now doing chemo again. I think God still has plans for me. I am not sure I could have gotten through all of the chemo, side effects and pain without Zentangle. Although I am having an issue with shaking and cramps in my hands, I still try to do what I can. I take lots of online classes and watch a lot of videos! Thank you Zentangle, Inc. for giving me this gift!

    Barbara Burgess on

  • I first came across Zentangle in a blog called Brain Pickings in 2011. I found the concept so interesting I decided to fly out to Providence RI and take a seminar with Rick and Maria. Zentangle came into my life at the perfect time as Rich and Maria’s philosophy in teaching this art form is that there are no mistakes. From there on in I keep calm and tangle on.

    Jackie on

  • I cannot begin to tell you all the ways Zentangle has opened me up. I started doing it when I was suffering from depression as a way to escape the constant negative rumination. I so enjoyed it that I became a CZT (17) and have learned how much I enjoy teaching it. With the practice of Zentangle, my confidence in my ability as an artist has grown over the years, so much so the I have begun doing botanical art and illustration. Thank you so much.

    Leslie Hancock on

  • You’ve heard this already but…Zentangle gave me the ability to discover that I could draw. You broke down the sequence of drawing in such a way that you opened a creative world for me (and many others) that we thought was not available to us. I am so deeply grateful for what you have for all of us. 🙏🏻

    Janice Kimmerly on

  • Oh I learned to appreciate and have gratitude for each line, each step, each breath into the next moment! Thank you for always reminding me! With Gratitude, Mary Ellen

    Mary Ellen Ziegler czt 33 on

  • Back to Basics is a need for me.

    I tried to prepare artistic classes, teaching my students different technique to enjoy the method, and to be able to use different ways of tangling. But, we always come back to basics every 5 or 6 artistic classes.
    And personally, when I tangle for myself, I always use white tiles and black ink, with a touch of graphite. I don’t need anything else to enjoy the process and have a wonderful Zentangle practice.

    María Tovar CZT on

  • From practicing the Zentangle Method for the past 9 years and teaching it for the past 7 & 1/2, I have learned many things: I actually AM an artist (though I thought otherwise for a long LONG time before Zentangle), I CAN remain interested and excited about just ONE creative endeavor for MANY years, MOST of us NEED Zentangle in our lives!, the “no mistakes” philosophy is applicable to life in general, and Zentangle appeals to almost everyone … those who get “hooked” as I have are now dear friends whom I would NOT have met if it weren’t for Zentangle! Thank you Maria and Rick for following the path that called to you and continuing to enrich so VERY many lives worldwide. What a treasure you both are!!! xoxoxo

    Jan Brandt, CZT 12 on

  • Zentangle meets the needs of each of us, whatever the circumstances. Personally, it has been a blessing… clears the pathway of clutter ahead of me, restores positive thoughts and well being and offers great encouragement and peace.

    Carol Johns on

  • I have so many wonderful stories from my students who have incorporate Zentangle into their lives in positive ways with wonderous results. Thank you for sharing that original inspiration with all of us.

    Barb Round on

  • I discovered I could deconstruct patterns & see them everywhere – my childhood love of isometric paper fell into place & then discovering that shading wasn’t necessarily where the light was coming from, it got better. I can’t draw but I can tangle & play with patterns & I discovered that’s what delights & it’s something that I can do when I’m waiting for my husband at medical appointments. During a recent emergency it was pencil & paper that occupied me! I’ve learnt to appreciate the character of a hand drawn line.

    Evy Browning on

  • I learned that you don’t always have to think 1000 steps ahead.
    When I stumble, I always think of the phrase “one stroke at a time”.

    Miriam on

  • After a cancer diagnosis and the “joys” of chemo and radiation, a friend invited me to join her in a Zoom class at the Denver Botanic Gardens. I did and am so thankful. After the class was over we took turns each week teaching one another, keeping my mind busy when there was not much moving around to be done. I have so enjoyed this form. My sketching understanding and abilities have both improved in learning Zentangle have improved

    Pam Beason on

  • I think it’s so great how life takes us on paths we didn’t expect. Glad you listened and so grateful that you created Zentangle so that so many people all around the world can enjoy this and destress or give them what they need in their lives. After getting my CZT37, it rejuvenated me and created a new spark to create every day as Maria said and learn as much as I can. I’m enjoying taking my art to the next level and love all the love and positive things you give to so many people. Thank you all for all the wonderful things that you do!

    Becky Bening on

  • I have learnt to unlearn! For me art meant perfection and with zentangle I have learnt to let go of perfectionism and enjoy the process instead. It was a huge shift for me where I don’t think about the end result but the process instead!

    Suchitra K on

  • So thankful that Zentangle woke my creative innerchild! Today, finally, after more than one year, i can go back to our little paperart class, just to tangle and Being, together thanks to Jella, our wonderful CZT and local inspirator! Love from Belgium. Cathy

    Cathy Mallentjer on

  • I have learned that even in stressed, anxiety filled times, with low patience levels, I can focus on one line at a time & be lead to a place of surprise & delight with an interesting & unexpected outcome.

    Rimona Gale on

  • I love the way Zentangle found you both and the way you have let it grow. As you know I found ZT when I was in treatment for Stage 3 breast cancer. It was perfect timing and like you said, I had been yearning to get back to a creative experience. My life since becoming a CZT, teaching hundreds of folks, and meeting the most fantastic friends thru ZT, has been enriched immensely. You may never know how much you (Rick, Maria, Molly, Martha, Julie) mean to me, but I’m gonna keep trying to tell you ever time we see each other!

    Kim Kohler on

  • There are so many wonderful stories here! Oh my word…. how incredible!

    Zentangle came into my life while I was preparing for open heart surgery and the rehab time following. I have always been a “maker”. I started my life sewing but it quickly blossomed. I loved creating things with my own two hands. But I knew I wouldn’t be able to indulge in those passions while in recovery so I was looking for something that would engage my brain and be creative. Then I stumbled upon Zentangle.

    It literally has changed my life. The benefits have been plentiful from getting me through that rehab, to dealing with deep depression, the death of my mother and so many other things since. It is a daily part of my life and I wouldn’t know what to do without it any more.

    After finding out how much it could do for me, I decided to get my CZT because I wanted the ability to show this to anyone who would listen as I knew what if could do for them as well. I’ve been blessed to have Ms. Jody Genovese as a mentor, but she inspired me to volunteer for a local group that has art classes for adults with disabilities. (Of any kind). My “Aha!” moment came when I had two students tell me they no longer needed their anxiety medications because of what ZT had done for them. What a moment!

    I thank you, ever so profoundly, for what this baby you created has done for me and so many others. You’re superstars in my world!

    LovelyRita (aka Rita Miller) on

  • For three years I dabbled in Zentangle on Pinterest, took classes for two years from A great teacher, finally had the opportunity to become one myself in Providence, Rhode Island! I was introduced to Tangle a day calendar book during that time and have kept it up for four years, in which I love to add color to my tangle creations. Once certified, I began teaching seniors at the local senior center in my town. It was thrilling and rewarding! The Passion i’ve found was transmitted to my students. They love tangling as much as I do. it’s a daily practice for me. During Covid, zoom prove to be very challenging for myself and my students. So glad, we are meeting in person in July. I have gained confidence. I have seen that anyone can create beautiful art And become their true creative self. The peacefulness and focus are priceless. Both Facebook and Instagram have allowed me to share my Zentangle creations with like-minded people! As well as the mosaic app. Thank you, Rick and Maria!

    Mary I Perrin CZT 32 On June 15 on

  • Artistically, I have always been what I call “a plodder”. I never felt that I was naturally creative and then over forty years ago I discovered Calligraphy,and a love of letters and the teaching that went with that. Even so, I never “felt”creative and decided when I became good at my craft, it was only because of determination. Then, in 2012 a friend suggested I have a look at Linda’s Tangle patterns site. I discovered,with some amazement, that I could create something unique, without having to rely on dogged determination, but with relaxation and feeling good with a pen in my hand. The quietness lasted and in the nine years since then, I have learnt belief in myself and that I have my own space,that is all mine, where thought and serenity, through tangling, gets me through all the “hiccups” in life…….thank you Maria and Rick. XX

    Sue Zanker on

  • Zentangle was my saving grace after I lost my mom. Many lonely nights it was me, paper and pen.

    Shirley Hewitt on

  • It always seems that – just when I need it – one of the Zentangle blogs pops up. Thanks for each of these and especially the peace that it gives me when needed and for the tools to express myself when the creative monster pops up. He’s not a monster, but grabs me in a good way so that I focus on me!

    Carolyn Satter on

  • Attending CZT class 11 was the best gift I have ever given to myself. The Zentangle method is what I turn to when I need calm and meditation. Last year my Zentangle practice got me through many lonely days during the pandemic. I have two sketch books filed cover to cover with Zentangle art. Thank you Maria and Rick for the gift that keeps on giving!

    Anita Morrison on

  • During the Covid-19 Pandemic, there was a Zentangle class offered to “seniors” via Zoom. Due to health issues, I’m physically limited, so spent way too much time on the internet aimlessly looking for something…. anything…..whatever. I signed up for this class and oh my! I’ve been hooked on the Zentangle method ever since! I still take classes when they’re offered, but enjoy tangling something every day. Thank you for this; I’m creating art in ways I never dreamed I could before!

    Avis Powers on

  • When I was about 8, a teacher told me I couldn’t draw. Fifty years later, a CZT told me I could CREATE. Grateful.

    Linda Dochter on

Leave a comment