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Gratitude 2024

Gratitude 2024

Rick writes:

Gratitude has always been the foundation of the Zentangle Method. Perhaps that’s because it has always been the foundation of Maria’s and my worlds.

I remember when Maria and I were teaching a workshop in New Hampshire. Some of the attendees wanted to know how they could also teach the Zentangle Method. That request inspired our Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT) seminars.

When we announced our first seminar for February 2009, people asked what qualifications were necessary to attend. Immediately we responded, “Passion and Gratitude!”

Our reasoning was that if you had passion and gratitude, then we knew we could teach you everything you needed to teach the Zentangle Method. We also assumed that we were not equipped to teach you how to be passionate and grateful.

Over the years, we learned we were not entirely right about assuming we couldn’t teach passion and gratitude. Because we’ve seen how people who said they couldn’t even “draw a straight line” began to revel in the beauty of the Zentangle art they were creating. They became passionate. They became grateful.

So perhaps, we did indirectly teach passion and gratitude. I say indirectly, because what I think happens is that the Zentangle Method opens a door to a person’s innate creativity. It wasn’t what we taught that made the difference, it was what people discovered about themselves that made the difference.

Once you experience creativity flowing from within you, through your pen and onto the paper, you discover how wonderful it is. And soon, you have a passion to experience more of that and witness the beauty that is coming from within you.

And then inevitably comes the gratitude . . . gratitude for the simple things . . . like pen and paper, and a chair to sit on at a table in a room that is warm and dry.

And the more you create, the more you want to create. And the more you are grateful, the more you find to be grateful for. It is a beautiful self-reinforcing cycle.

I can’t think of another artform or practice in which fully one quarter of the steps have to do with Gratitude and Appreciation.

After I wrote the first draft of this blog, I sent it to Julie. She replied, “I think this is a good start, but I’d like you to focus more on why Gratitude is the first step of the Zentangle Method since that is this month’s theme.”

I called Julie and told her that I don’t remember Maria and I ever discussing it. Gratitude was just always the first step. It was self-evident to both of us that Gratitude was the foundation of everything we were doing. Maybe it was because we were, as we often say, “taking dictation,” as we wrote down the method that wonderful weekend in western Massachusetts. I know that Gratitude was not an add-on after we came up with the method. It was always Gratitude from the start.

Welcome to the world of Zentangle. First step . . . Gratitude!

Maria adds:

I always felt that I was the luckiest person on earth. My family, friends, home, my passion for art, I could go on and on here, but I’m guessing you get the picture. Don’t get me wrong, we were not wealthy. I just believed we were. I was grateful for so much and thought about it all the time. So, it was just natural for me/us to begin a class with gratitude. Rick and I were never teachers. We made up our own rules of how we would teach.

It was so natural to be grateful for the opportunity, for our paper, so beautifully crafted in Italy, for our pencils with just the right type of graphite, and for the pens. The pens were a dream come true for me after having struggled for years with Rapidograph technical pens.

In my perspective, an artist should always use the best supplies possible, and we wanted to communicate that perspective to our students. Because of the small size of our tiles and the few tools we used, drawing with the Zentangle Method was a modest investment even with the best possible materials. It was natural to feel gratitude for the beautiful paper and elegant tools.

And also, gratitude for our students who helped us spread the Zentangle word, for our family and friends who supported us throughout our beginnings, and for each other. Zentangle would not have happened had Rick and I not met shortly before this magical journey. So, thanks Ricky. (There’s that gratitude, again . . .)

Julie adds...

When I asked Rick and Maria to write the story of why they chose Gratitude as the first step, I was not surprised when he told me there wasn't really one - it was just the obvious first step.

Gratitude really is the forefront of everything we do here at Zentangle, Inc, so when we began to map out what this year-long celebration would look like, it was clear that the first blog had to be about Gratitude. It is the first step in whatever we do.

In honor of the first step of the Zentangle Method, I would like to take a moment right here, right now, for gratitude. If you are journaling along with us this year, I encourage you to take a page to dedicate to this very important first step in the Zentangle Method... Gratitude.

You can also leave your thoughts about this step in the comments below. We will be choosing one commenter at random to receive an 8-Steps Print.

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If you would like to know more about the image above, visit this blog.

Rick Roberts


  • So nice to read all the comments and see myself in others! Congratulations to the zentangle family on 20 years of being everyone’s inspiration and a path to wellness. I am eternally grateful for so much goodness in my life but discovering zentangle has been a real blessing in my ageing years. Looking forward to many more wonderful project packs and blogs. Namasta.

    N Perkin on

  • With a new practice, and a new focus on appreciation and gratitude, I find myself looking forward to the time I spend with paper and pen. I’m starting to spark interest in my middle school kids to ZIA instead of playing on their devices.

    Rachel S. on

  • Zentangle in my soul and brain❣️

    Gratitude pops up, for so many thoughts and possibility’s of what’s included in Zentangle life;
    An ongoing development of self,
    with an accepting attitude,
    always finding gratitude for little things.
    I am amazed and so grateful for the joy and wellness in my life, despite difficulties I’ve experienced and been through. Zentangle is in my mind, everyday! 🙏❤️
    With gratefulness and appreciation,

    Annika Wiener ”Awasthlm” on

  • It is not happiness that brings us Gratitude.

    It is Gratitude
    That brings us happiness
    And that is what Zentangle has brought me. Waking every morning feeling gratitude to have another opportunity to create another tangle! And that brings me happiness and joy every single day. No matter what else goes on.

    Kathy McMurtry CZT on

  • So grateful for the way finding Zentangle opened me to my creative self. Healing from burnout facilitated by Zentangle. Amazing community of like minded people. Grateful, grateful, grateful.

    Deb Murray CZT30 on

  • I have a ton of gratitude for my Zentangle journey. It began like so many others — by complete chance, with a little divine inspiration.

    My doctor made a chance remark around 2008 (I had recently been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia), saying, “I’ve heard there are people out there using drawing to help them cope with pain.”

    In retrospect, I recall her saying that, but didn’t find Zentangle right away. Fortunately my angels were persistent because a few years later (2011), a few friends saw my drawings and the coloring books I was trying to use for pain control, and they said, “We saw this lady at a local art fair, and she was doing this Zentangle stuff. You should look into it.”

    It may have taken me 6 months or a year, but I looked on the web a little, and then I picked up a new Zentangle book written by a Houston author, Becky Krahula, “One Zentangle a Day,” and I was hooked. Finally, about 6 or 7 years later, my husband and I found the funds for me to attend CZT Training in Rhode Island.

    I don’t let a day go by without tangling. Yes, I do it to cope with the constant pain, but I also do it for the joy of it! For the community of it. For the feeling of success that occurs as I’m signing a new work, and also for the gratitude that I feel every time I pick up my pen and start to Tangle!

    Thank you, Rick and Maria, and everyone else along the way.

    Beth on

  • Practicing gratitude has profoundly changed so much in my life. I was once given a coffee mug that said “expect a miracle.” I wasn’t sure how to achieve that thought process at the time but as I matured and maintained an open mind its message resonated and I learned the power of positiveness as well as being grateful – grateful for things that have yet to materialize is key. That’s how Zentangle appeared in my life. Thank you Universe!!!

    Jacki Fry Brewer, CZT25 on

  • Zentangle has made me more aware of the topic of gratitude in general.
    Even for things that seem to be taken for granted. I am healthy, I don’t have to worry about having a roof over my head every day or being fed. I am surrounded by people who are important to me and who care about me. None of this can be taken for granted. Unfortunately, we often only realise this when something is lost.
    And it’s a luxury that I can take time for myself while tangling with high-quality equipment. What a blessing. I am grateful for all of this.

    Claudia on

  • Hello friends!
    Zentangle is something very precious to me!
    Ever since I was a child, I have loved to draw braids – beautiful, twisted drawings, decorations…
    And when I found you I said to myself – there it is…this is my thing!
    Zentangle is my passion!
    What makes me unload!
    What gives me the opportunity to sink into a magical world of beauty!
    What fuels me!
    And thanks for finding you!
    Thank you that I can follow you and create together with you!
    Gratitude that I can see the beauty around me!
    Gratitude for all that I have!
    Thanks for the result!
    Gratitude is not something you can proclaim, express it loudly!
    It is something secret, hidden, cherished, personal!
    Something that only the soul knows!
    And from which she rejoices and is happy!
    And isn’t that our goal too! To make our souls rejoice!
    Thank you for the joy!

    Dafi on

  • I discovered Zentangle in 2021. After buying an introductory DVD and supplies from Rick and Maria. I began with the book one Tangle at a time by CZT Beckah Krahula . This sparked my love of creativity with decorated letters. I recall one of my calligraphy teachers Mark Van Stone teaching me golf clubs in one of the backgrounds of a deocorated letter way back in the 1980’s. I stayed up most of the night making a 3D paper box decorated with a capital V. I still have that little turquoise paper box that put me into the zen – aha moment ! I realize now why since 2021 I collected dozens of CZT books about tangling. I am so delighted to be included in the virtual class 42 coming up in November 11 – 13 , 2024. This is where I will learn to tangle to my heart’s content. I am very grateful for Rick and Maria and Zentangle for making this all possible ! !

    Valerie Lynn Hodgins on

  • Forever grateful to Rich and Maria for creating this magical 8 step journey. Zentangle changed my life! I’m grateful every day for my Zentangle practice and all my students. The Zentangle Method is so much more than just drawing, and I love to see my students light up just as I did when I started. Thanks for changing the world, and providing me with the tools to help change even just a little part of it!

    Brenda Campbell, CZT on

  • I practice gratitude daily, and so was over the moon when I realised it’s part of the Zentangle Method.

    I am so grateful for Zentangle. It has been a life saver in quietening my busy mind.

    I’m grateful that you made the CZT training virtual so I could finally become a CZT after over a decade of wanting to teach it.

    I am also grateful to both of you for the philosophies behind the Zentangle Method thank you.

    I’m grateful for your project packs, they help me think more creatively.

    I’m grateful for all of you guys! Thank you for such an incredible life improving thing!!

    Ruby McGuire on

  • Synchronically, January 11 stands out as the International Day of Gratitude, a celebration that goes beyond the mere formality of recognition. On this day, we are invited to reflect on a fundamental value: gratitude. Recognizing the positive influence of others on our happiness is a powerful gesture

    Daily Appreciation and Gratitude, first step of the Zentangle Method… If Zentangle has taught me anything, it is gratitude and appreciation for the little things: paper, pencil, pen. . . and zen. And then how gratitude somehow sneaks into my everyday life, making me feel very lucky to be who I am and to have what I have.

    carmela on

  • I’m grateful that I found papertape! it opened a totally different world of art for me. I used to “doodle” by writing snippets of conversation that I heard from around me, the TV other people but once I stumbled upon Zentangle and then found my beloved papertape I was off and running. Now I find myself tangling all of the time and am quite surprised to find that others like what i do. I too met someone that has become one of my closest friend because of Zentangle and for that I am eternally grateful.


  • “Once you experience creativity flowing… you discover how wonderful it is. And soon, you have a passion ". That explains everything about the tangle method and the Tangled community to me. It’s really true that once you have a passion you end up being grateful for all it brings to you I wake up, happy and grateful for the day ahead. When I feel sad, I often will grab a tile and do some Zentangle And come out of it re-energized. Thank you for this wonderful method and for your wonderful way of living it.

    Lisa Hoesing on

  • Grateful for Rick & Maria, for their intuition, curiosity, adventurous, generosity and being the model of gratitude. Thanks for having Gratitude (to the world, to self and to others) as the first step, which is really the essence of Zentangle Method.

    CHOI Ming Kwan, CZT Asia5 on

  • I find a common theme in the gratitude of these responses. So many of us seem to have found Zentangle at just the right moment in our lives, and for that we are all eternally grateful. I too found Zentangle at a low point in my life. In 2018, I had just lost my husband of 51 years, moved to a new state to live with my daughter, but couldn’t take art classes at the local Senior Center because they were wait-listed. I am very grateful for Ruth, the secretary, who suggested I try the Zentangle class instead. Unfortunately, it was Summer, and the Zentangle class wouldn’t start until October, so I Googled “Zentangle,” to learn more. I found the official site, and subscribed to the newsletter. I asked questions which Rick graciously answered himself! He also sent an email about a lecture he and Maria were giving at the National Museum of American Illustration in Newport, RI. I will be forever grateful for that tip and the experience itself! Rick and Maria were so genuine, welcoming and encouraging! After several years of tangling classes, I finally became certified, via the CZT39 Zoom class (grateful for Zoom too!) So yes, I agree! “Gratitude” is indeed the first step, as well as the last! It permeates everything in my life. For me, like so many others, Zentangle helps me persevere despite the “slings and arrows” life continually throws at us! It helps me face each day with calm, quiet, determination, gratitude and appreciation for the beauty, joy, and purpose it has given me, and for the amazingly wonderful people it has brought into my life! Thank you all!

    Jessica L Dykes on

  • I am grateful for having had the opportunity to become a CZT a few years ago. Although I really couldn’t afford it, I did it anyway, and am thankful I did. I teach a a class at the local senior center once a week and especially enjoy teaching my grandkids and my stitchery and more group. In the short time that I’ve taught, my students have made so much progress, not only in drawing tangles, but in their attitude toward their work. I’m so grateful to have people to share my passion with.

    Kim on

  • Gratitude is the foundation of love I believe. If we are thankful for what is within us, within our grasp or hands, our homes, our families, our hearts, how can we give to others? With the Zentangle method it all fits into a jigsaw puzzle of life that our hearts seek Zentangle, our prayers (or yearnings) get answered because we use the Zentangle method as a life journal to unravel our hearts, stresses, slow our heartrate, distract us from other darker worldliness and help us to see the beauty in our world. We see it, it is within us, our grasp, our eyes and we put it all into our beautiful artform with thanks for your wonderful guidance. Yes that is what I am completely grateful for to show me that one step at a time, I can do anything. It works and gratitude to you all for making that happen. Your Zentangle method has become ours too, part of us and part of a beautiful global pattern of incredible artists of Zentanglers.

    Veronica Hodges CZT #37 Australia on

  • Many thanks to Zentangle Method! Although we were not particularly wealthy, I grew up in an ordinary family. At one point in my life, sadness came over me. At a time when there was nothing I could do, I happened to come across the Zentangle method. The Zentangle Method gradually changed my “common sense” and the Zentangle Method became the standard of my life. It changed not only my art, but also my life!

    Noriko Kikuchi czt on

  • I do not know where to begin … growing up in India, first born of a man who was paper merchant and in love with the best pens this world (world of India) could offer. He always brought to me the world’s best paper to draw on and the best of best pens he could hold of for me – I am grateful to my father for introducing me to them.
    I am since then most grateful to Maria & Rick for taking me back to my roots with their thoughts and creations in this beautiful form of Zentangle ♥️

    Upasana Jain on

  • I am struggling with Gratitude because the world seems so dark and frightening. I want to believe that if I had a regular Zentangle practice, I could adopt an attitude more filled with gratitude for what I do have at this moment instead of being fearful of what the future may bring.
    I read what other people have written here and it makes me hopeful that I could become more present and as a result, more grateful.
    In fact, I have absolutely everything I need to Zentangle regularly – all the pens, paper, and time – so I shall start by being grateful for that.
    I am heading to my desk to tangle as soon as I finish writing this.
    Thank you for this opportunity to share my thoughts.

    Laurie Nielsen on

  • Gratitude where to begin – I’ve been through so much however I’m extremely grateful to my girlfriend, Anna Farr who introduced me Zentangle at a critical time in my life and to Niki Lawrence my Zentangle teacher who encouraged me to become a teacher. When I went to Rhode Island to do the Seminar I had the best time I’ve had in my life and I’m grateful to Rick & Maria & all at Zentangle Inc. I’ve learnt so much and am still learning. Gratitude has become a part of my daily life this year with 3 things I’m grateful for going into my bullet journal. I never thought I could draw let alone be creative!

    Sue Douglas CZT34 On Wed 10 Jan on

  • If Zentangle has taught me anything, it is gratitude and appreciation for the little things: paper, pencil, pen. . . and zen. And then how gratitude somehow sneaks into my everyday life, making me feel very lucky to be who I am and to have what I have.

    carmela on

  • I am a morning journaling person. When I started taking a Zentangle class, it was so natural to tangle on the page or xerox a tile and paste it in the journal. So I am writing and tangling and the sun starts to come up as I look eastward and gratitude just floods into my being. In a life filled with so much to be grateful for, Zentangle often slows me down just enough to quiet my mind, ease my body, and open me up to just be — in love with the world and so filled with gratitude.

    Pamela Park-Curry on

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