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Everyone is an Artist

Everyone is an Artist

Julie writes...

There are always people, perhaps you are one of them, who first saw Zentangle art and said, “I can’t do that.”

We always say that if you can write your name, you can create Zentangle art. The beauty of the Zentangle method, is that anyone can do it. I am always very quick to assure these people, with honest conviction, that everyone is an artist.

It occurred to me though that I was not practicing what I preach.

I happened to grow up in the same small Massachusetts town that ZHQ is located in. Right next door to be exact. One of the nice things (for the most part) of growing up in a small town is that everyone knows each other. These days, when I run into old teachers or parents of high school friends and they ask what I do for work, I tell them I work for Zentangle. If they are unsure about what Zentangle is, I will sometimes say I work for Maria Thomas, since in our small town, most people know who Maria is. Once I tell them who I work for, more often than not they respond with, “I didn’t know you were an artist!”

I always seem to laugh at this assumption and assure whoever I am talking to that Zentangle most certainly did not hire me for my artistic abilities. I began to wonder how could I truly believe that everyone IS an artist, while simultaneously laughing at the mere suggestion that I might be an artist?

If you had asked me at age 7 what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have told you that I was going to be an artist (well, probably a princess who was also an artist). Like many kids, I colored, I drew, and I painted all day long. I never wondered whether or not I was good at what I was doing. I was simply creating. Like many kids, somewhere along the way I began to question my legitimacy as an artist and comparing my work in art class to the other students. All of a sudden, it occurred to me that I might not be “good” at art. So, I stopped creating. I found other things that I was better at and pursued those. I think many people can relate to this. As children, we are not plagued with the doubt and insecurity that we develop as we get older.

It is this same doubt and insecurity that makes me react the way I do when people ask if I am an artist. I know that most people asking are thinking of Maria’s calligraphy and botanical art. So, if I admit that I am an artist, they are going to assume I am of the same caliber and once again I am questioning my legitimacy as an artist.

It is true – Rick and Maria did not hire me for my artistic abilities, but that doesn’t make me any less of an artist. They also did not hire me for my baking abilities but that doesn’t mean I don’t bake a mean apple pie.

I decided I needed to be a little nicer to the artist inside of me. If I am going to encourage my students to embrace the artist in them, I needed to do the same. The Zentangle Method speaks to everyone, of all different artistic backgrounds, but I really think it offers a special gift to those of us who were previously “not an artist.” It is a secret passageway back to those childhood days when we colored and painted as if we were the next Picasso and no one was going to tell us otherwise. It is an opportunity to create something beautiful and to activate those parts of ourselves that we stifled so long ago.

The last time someone asked me about what I did for work, I talked about the Zentangle Method and when I could tell they were having trouble visualizing what I was talking about, I opened the Zentangle Mosaic app and showed them some of my work as an example. They looked at me and said, “Oh, you’re an artist!”

 

 

Julie Willand

47 comments

  • A dear friend introduced me to Zentangle back 2012 and I made my first “tangle” on the 12th February 2012. I have honestly, truthfully, completed a tangled tile every single day since then ‼️ I was a professional Calligrapher for thirty years and teaching it as well, which is an exact practice, as you strive to get every letter beautiful and with no mistakes, or you go back and do it again. I love Zentangle for my soul’s sake……. the theory of “ No Mistakes” saved my life. I cannot live without it now.❣️❣️

    Sue Zanker on

  • Like most of your responders, Jules, I can relate. I never could consider myself anything more than an artist-wannabe until I took CZTtraining in 2015. I had commented several times how amazed I am at how beautiful the things we produced were since, you know, I really wasn’t an artist.

    Maria Thomas was helping me with technique during one of her classes. She said to me, “I don’t ever want to hear you say you are not an artist again.” We went on to talk about how Zentangle is very forgiving and other things as you can in a few moments. What a difference she made for me!
    My novice artwork is lovely and over the last few years this artist has seen growth and more confidence and obtained more enjoyment from the process. Thank you Zentangle Team for welcoming all of us to the world of artists!

    Betsey Youngs on

  • I tell people all the time that I never would have called myself an artist (even though I have written poetry and music for years), but Zentangle® makes me feel like one! Go, You!!!!!

    Julie Gvillo on

  • I will never forget the moment that I referred to myself as an artist. I had some of my Zentangle drawings in my suitcase while checking in to the hotel for a Zentangle event. The bell person said they would lock my suitcase in a room until my guest room was available. I heard myself say, “Be extra careful of this because my artwork is in this suitcase!”

    I couldn’t believe what I was hearing coming from my own mouth! Zentangle makes us acknowledge ourselves! This was a great blog entry, Julie!

    Katrina Thiebaut CZT on

  • Julie, Thank you for your story! Mine is very similar. ( wink) Now, thanks to the Zentangle method, when I show my Zentangles to others and they say, “Oh, you’re an artist!”, I reply “Yes, yes I am!”
    Love, your mom

    Judi Broderick on

  • I have always had an art side to me even as a kid, but never considered myself an “artist” until Zentangle took me there this fall. I was encouraged to join a Studio Tour (even tho I don’t have a studio) with my Zentangle creations. And so I did creating a temporary set up in my sunroom where I do a lot of tangling and classes. So that is how I wound up as one of 32 artist stops on a two weekend High Road Artisans Tour this September in New Mexico. I am still amazed at where Zentangle has taken me in just over 4 years after a medical issue that brought me to Zentangle. I have always told everyone they too can learn artistic creations as that came from an art professor way back 50 years ago when I was in college and I still believe it, Zentangle has just reinforced it big time for me.

    Sue Leslie CZT22 on

  • Dear Julie, Please don’t be too hard on yourself. Many in the world see art as dead end career that pays little monetary reward. My beloved Uncle Joe, who worked for Disney, had a successful career in art. Despite this my parents did everything in their power to discourage me. Various art teachers along the way were not nurturing. But when you find your true calling it is very wise to use your creative heart in order to persist.

    Mary D'Angelo, CZT on

  • When I encounter someone who says that their work isn’t as good as someone else’s or that they are not artist. I have two things to say to them

    1. As you said, we are all artists.
    2. We all start where we start, and grow from there. No one is the same as any other, still, an artist.

    Lisa on

  • I was only going to say “Thank You for the much needed and appreciated reminder put into words that so many of us relate to”. Then I was reading the comments and saw the comment from Dr. Patel! I felt like I had run into an old friend! Unbeknownst to Dr. Patel, (I live worlds apart in Colorado and have never had the pleasure of meeting him), but I would like to take this opportunity to let him and the entire Zentangle world know that I show his TedTalk, “Taming Minds the Zentangle Way” to all of my beginning Zentangle classes! It is an excellent introduction for fearful beginners. So now I feel like a fan of Dr. Patel and I thank him for his marvelous message!

    Roberta Strickland, CZT #32, PNAA (Previously Not An Artist) on

  • I didn’t know you were an artist everyone says when they see my Zentangle art and origami models or a combo of the two. “I’m not” is my standard reply, “I’m creative”. I’ve come to the conclusion that just because I can’t draw freehand or paint artistic scenarios, doesn’t make me any less artistic. I’ve started to refer to what I do as creative art.

    Andrea on

  • Julie, you nailed me to a T with this blog post! I turned to cross stitch and sewing for my creative outlets, since I “wasn’t an artist”. I still compare myself to the fabulous work I see out on IG, but I’m slowly learning to accept my own work! Thanks for this blog post!

    Barbara Horton on

  • Julie thank you for sharing your beautiful story. You are so talented. I am sure many people can relate to your story. I love your Zentangles and am always in ‘wuuauw’ for your creative talents 💖 I notice that I myself always look at peoples faces when they say: That tile is so amazing. Like I am looking to see whether they are serious or making fun of me. It is a human thing to compare ourself with others but that is not really helpful. During summer I looked a bit too much to everybody else work on social media and I (my ego) decided that my tiles were not worth seeing. So I stopped tangling. I got stuck for weeks and got really sad during that process realising that in my heart I did not care about the result and missed the practice. And then one morning I looked at a KTT video and hear Maria saying: “don’t forget that I have been practicing nearly all my life ever since I was a little girl in my mum’s store…” So I picked up a tile and forgave myself for being so hard to the little artist in me. Ever since I am a lot nicer to myself. A new lesson learned. We all are artists indeed and we do what we can. 🌺

    Karin CZT Belgium on

  • The media, back here in India describes me as a ‘Zentangle artist’! But, when I look back to my school days over more than 50 years ago, I see my drawing teacher slapping on me (and many others in my class) a life sentence – ‘You can’t draw!‘. So, I could not, which slowly got converted in to ’I did not’. There was no need for me to draw there after as I was good at all other subjects, and the marks for the drawing class exams were not considered for promotion to the next grade.

    This silent life sentence created a bigger block during my Engineering college when I felt envy to my fellow ‘artistic’ students who were in lime light during college functions as they were in demand for creating banners and posters for the events. That too passed, and one moved on. Out of the university, into a job, jobs, marriage, climbed the echelons, and years later suddenly you start seeing much bigger shadows of the original innocent little life sentence slapped by your drawing(art)teacher. Now it has grown to cause doubts about your creativity. You suddenly feel you are not creative enough to tackle the problems at work, and home front. All because I could not draw, a few decades ago, and I had accepted the sentence.
    After 50 years of serving that sentence, I got my freedom from the sentence at the age of 62 when I attended the CZT09 seminar in August 2012. And now I can draw, I do draw and I am known as a Zentangle Artist! I can also sing now, and can do many other things I thought I could not while serving the sentence!
    Thank you Rick and Maria.

    Dilip Patel on

  • Exactly what drew me (pardon the pun) to Zentangle. Everyone is an artist. Shame on all those teachers and “artists” who think not, and have judged so many and pronounced them untalented.

    MKay B B Watson CZT 17 on

  • The first time I saw a sample of Zentangle, it drew me in. The simplicity yet complexity of purpose, the peacefulness of design shouted from the ink. It has been a life-saver as I navigate multiple medical issues. My little tangle-to-go kit rests in my bag, pulled out to calm me while waiting. We are all artists,

    Ginger White CZT34 on

  • Oh Julie….. how funny it is that your story sounds so similar to my own (tho I don’t get the happy joy of working at HQ!). I found Zentangle 3 yrs ago and I’m constant amazed at how it incorporates into my life in such a multitude of ways. Those first tiles make me cringe when I look at them, but I keep them to remind me that yes, we’re ARE all artists and if we keep creating they continually get more and more lovely as I learn to embrace my inner artist and let it shine. Wonderful post!

    LovelyRita aKa RIta MIller CZT31 on

  • What an inspiring story. One I will certainly share with those who ask me that same question. Thank you

    Maureen Hines (CZT 32) on

  • Zentangle is like going on vacation for me … leaving the cares of the world behind.

    Quwatha Valentine on

  • Loved this blog post! I recently told someone I was an art teacher which actually surprised me! The Zentangle Method makes it easy for anyone to be an artist and recognize that in themselves!

    Shelley Bell (CZT 32) on

  • Indeed, everyone is an artist. Happy to be one 😁 !!!

    Like all CZT’s who were in Ireland this weekend. Everytime we saw new things in Zt and were happy being friends through Zt. All beautiful works, all artists 😁

    Arja on

  • I say it is beyond just art. It is artistic meditation that helps manage my pain and stress.

    bakayaro onna (Debbie) on

  • Oh Julie, what a beautiful reminder that we need to be kinder to ourselves!

    Tharina Etsebeth on

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