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!
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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