In Project Pack 06, we brought forward the discussion and intention of one of the most profound philosophies of the Zentangle Method, “No Mistakes.” We told a story of an experience that Maria had years ago as a platform to discuss the No Mistakes philosophy. You can learn more about this story through project pack 06, but the gist of the story is that she encountered an unfortunate scenario with a very much-treasured journal. She was put into a situation where she had choices about how she could look at the situation. Some might call this perspective. We have all been in situations where things don’t go exactly as we planned. Some days, one might say we encounter so-called good luck and others we encounter so-called bad luck. What if that was not exactly the case? In one of my favorite books, Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth, he writes about this topic through story. In one of his stories the main character perceives every scenario of what others see, as clearly bad luck, he sees as potential good luck. Patience, time and creativity can give us the superpower of seeing through difficult situations. A change in perspective is not an act. It is deep down belief. It comes from within. And once activated, it is like seeing every experience in your world with new eyes.
We took inspiration for Maria’s story in designing the mini journals found in Project Pack 06. Each booklet was an expressive version of Maria’s accidently ink soaked journal. We were not trying to recreate a so-called “mistake”, but rather using the story’s result as an exercise to shift our perspective. We also wanted to offer a challenge in the way we look at what we have or are given to work with, rather than hoping or wanting something different than what is presented. If we are always wishing how things could be different or better, we find ourselves in a constant space of discontent. When we are able to shift that energy to a place of contentment where we see the beauty and potential in what is given or presented, our outlook and experiences are much different.
When creating these journals I actually made prototype mini booklets and dipped a side of the journal in puddles of ink and let it sit and soak it up. There was no planning or manipulation of how the ink would sit on each page. Once the ink dried we disassembled the books and photographed the image the ink left behind. We created different books and within each version, the pages of those books had unique expressions. Some pages filled with more ink than others and all of them coming from different parts of the books. Our intent was for the end user to have in front of them something not so sculpted. We deliberately wanted people to be potentially forced to use different pages than those seen in the video tutorials. And most importantly, we wanted the pages to offer you the challenge of taking your book and making it yours by filling it with your marks, and in the end, to see the beauty within it all. Whether you see it on the pages or in the process, it is all yours. This book offers what we call in the Zentangle Method, the elegance of limits. With subtle parameters our creativity is forced into a space where it can grow, thrive and think outside the box. It is amazing what masterpieces are born from places of the not so perfect or restricted.
In the case of all the art created by Project Pack 06 that I have seen, I must say that all of them, whether in one of our books are on other materials, were beautiful specimens of awesome. And true evidence of artists working through limitations. Regardless if you are in a place seeing beauty all the time or still working through to that place, I applaud you for making it this far and I can tell you this journey continues and it is a wonderful place to be.
Thank you for joining us!
The tale of “Maria’s Mishap” reminds me of the old Chinese “Fortunately, Unfortunately” tale, so I have rewritten it for our purposes:
Fortunately, Maria had packed her sketchbook and bottle of ink.
Unfortunately, the lid was loose and the ink spilled.
Fortunately, it didn’t go evvvverywhere.
Unfortunately, it soaked the edges of pages in Maria’s beloved sketchbook.
Fortunately, a dear one helped unstick the pages, and dry them.
Unfortunately, the sketchbook seemed ruined.
Fortunately, Maria is good-humored and creative and had a brilliant idea to rescue the pages.
Unfortunately, only a few people saw them.
Fortunately, Zentangle was born and Project Packs came about and there’s Project Pack Six’s little journal and we all got to experience the necessary creativity of dealing with limitations!
Margaret Bremner on
Such a thoughtful post Molly, thank for making me reflect on my PP06 experience. Sometimes I’m resistant to the idea of limits in my creativity – because I feel I face enough in everyday life, I want my art to be limitless. But then… whenever I work within a limit, I find it’s actually far more freeing and inspiring than trying to decide where to start and where to go next with too many choices.
Jem Miller on
Matheussen Ria on
No Mistakes project pack has been my favorite tangle project so far, I really enjoyed the challenge to work outside the box! While I would have liked more black ink in my journal, I accepted the challenge to create my own art. The videos kept me inspired. We had to make the decision to put down our dog Lucy during this time and the tangling really helped me during this sad time to accept another challenge in life. Thank you so much for the inspiration and all the work you put into these fun art projects, I look forward to the next one!
Are the inked journals available for purchase, they tuck easily into even my smallest handbag!
SUSAN M PAGANO on
Leslie Hancock on
Since I became a CZT some years ago, I have developed a shake in my “tangling hand.” I stopped showing my work because I was so self-conscious about how my shaky lines appeared. While they are not mistakes, they are not deemed to be “normal.” I still tangle regularly as OT for my hand and I believe I may start posting again. Thanks so much for the confidence boost.
Linda Dochter, CZT 16 on
Molly, Love the videos, love the blog! I used to teach a class in change management, where we encouraged people to see and “embrace” the opportunity inherent in change. So the concept of “no mistakes” is perfectly logical to me, but I understand it can be frightening for some. Those of us who have been “programmed” by society (aren’t we all?), to follow the rules, connect the dots, color inside the lines, conform, and “do things right,” instead of exploring alternative options, ideas, and methods must find it hard to accept imperfection as an opportunity to cut loose, explore, or take off in a new direction. I think the Project 06 videos and philosophy are great! I love a challenge, and Zentangle offers me challenges every time I pick up my pencil and a piece of paper. I tangle on tiles, but also on letters, cards, envelopes, in sketchbooks and journals, and I’m now entertaining the idea of tangling an “altered book,” not to mention freshening up a tired, ugly old countertop in my powder room “Zentangle style!” The beauty of Zentangle is the opportunity to free yourself from whatever is holding you back from unleashing your own inner beauty and creativity. Just as there are no mistakes, there is no “one right way.” Give yourself permission to improvise…if only on a piece of paper. What’s the worst that can happen? No one’s keeping score, except you!
I tend to carry an overly-critical attitude about my Zentangle art on my shoulders. Thank you for this series of videos. I’ve found my attitude is changing. My tiles are looking better to me than they would have before these videos. So I’m excited to begin this No Mistakes challenge.
I haven’t purchased Project Pack 06, but I just made my tiles (9 so far) using black gesso. We’ll see how that goes. Each tile now has a small or large black “ink blob” to begin my No Mistakes tiles. No two are the same, and I look forward to putting my black Micron & white Gelly Roll pens to tile. I’ve saved the videos to watch again on YouTube. Can’t wait to begin in the morning!
Theresa Caillouette, CZT32 on
I can’t buy the packs in Australia but just LOVE to see the ideas and accept with gratitude that they are there for me to expand on. THANKYOU ALL.
Freda Worsey on
I chose not to buy the kit due to the cost of it here in Canada. Instead, I took 6 3Z Pre Strung tiles, “inked” them randomly with a Sharpie and taped them together…So much fun!! My project is taking longer due to other “things” that keep popping up, but so look forward to finishing it..😀
Sharon Jerkovic on
Lynnda T on
Julie Crosby on
Claudia McKeon on
Deborah Alborell on
Julie Crosby on
Gale Sherman on
I understand what you are trying to say about solving problems within the parameters of what we have to work with, & that’s commendable, but are you perhaps also trying to justify not thinking things through thoroughly & putting out a product that didn’t quite meet expectations for the project in mind?
Ginger White on
Rosemary Turpin on
Hi, Molly — In the above blog, I read the following in the second paragraph: “We also wanted to offer a challenge …” I accepted your challenge four years ago when I started tangling. Through an amazing fluke of luck, I was able to take one official Zentangle class for $45 on the Island of Montreal, Canada, which included supper and 5 official tiles, so I got to try them out, and found them very nice to use. I still have three left! Although I`d been tangling for quite a while at that point, I really enjoyed the class and the teacher. However, I found that further Zentangle tiles cost me almost $1.00 CAD each to get across my doorstep. My life circumstances find me somewhat impecunious, due to no fault of my own. So I have tangled over 900 tiles using materials I COULD afford, and have had a marvellous time doing it, learning quite a bit about paper and tangling along the way. I`m 74 now and must look to my future needs as I age rather than taking the CZT course for close to $4000 CAD. However, whenever I try to suggest on line that people CAN use other papers than the officially sanctioned Zentangle ones, my letters are shoved to the bottom of any list or eliminated altogether. I wonder if blog admins are adhering to your philosophy. My letters are always carefully worded, often edited for improvement and occasionally mildly humorous. I will KNOW whether you are adhering to your OWN philosophy if this letter appears publicly as long as this series of letters is public. I also hope that Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas will get to read it. By the way, I am NOT applying for a scholarship because there are oodles of younger people with serious health problems and/or many children to raise who need and will probably use it better. I LOVE you guys and your philosophy but I HATE the modern push towards buying ever MORE! I must say, though, that I was pleased to read the last paragraph of the blog too, accepting the use of “other products”. Thank you for all that you do!
Rosemary Turpin on
Thank you, all of you, for broadening our lives.
Lisa Hoesing on
Mary Kay Cass on
Oh, Molly…….SO well said!
Carol G on
I am one who does not deal well with “ no mistakes” .
I am too critical. I “practice” my Zentangle to make it “better”…..not for the quiet it can give me.
I asked you to exchange my project pact 6 booklet….it didn’t have enough ink, I thought. You sent me another and allowed me to keep the original. I missed the whole point!! Thank you for reiterating one of the main parts of Zentangle. I get it. Now for the practice of acceptance.