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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


  • I loved the concept of being grateful for the wonderful materials and tools, the time and the opportunity. I have been particularly grateful for the doors that it has opened into other arts and crafts, and for Bijou who encourages us to slow down (a necessity for pyrography)!

    Catherine Gisby on

  • I am grateful to have found Zentangle® on Pinterest and thought it would be a great bonding agent for my new stepdaughter and me. Well, it wasn’t, but I still persued it and on a whim went to training! AND I’m grateful that COVID brought so many of us together that we might not have ever had the opportunity to meet!

    Jennifer Matthaei Cottrell on

  • Zentangle met me may 10, 2014 in a Michael’s store on Broadway and 96th in NYC… ii didn’t know then how many low points it would carry me through, lift me out of loss & grief while blessing me me with creative outlets & ultimately, an experience of peace that has continued to refine my awareness not only of gratitude for materials, but more for that which is immaterial…there is an idea ii learned recently: ‘tbose who control the definition, control the conversation’… perhaps joy is conversation ii choose to give, that others would come to know gratitude is the. definition…ty all, for sharing. & including us in this journey.

    judy morgan on

  • I have loved this nine year journey with you all ! Zentangle has been a Godsend for me in so many peaks & valley’s of life in that time . I am so grateful to you Rick & Marie for all the lessons you have shared so generously, and continue to do so with your project pack being the most recent! Love using zentangle on cards for friends & family that appreciate this art & the meditative properties it provides my soul .

    Penny Cooper on

  • I’m so grateful for your generosity. Your team has such a relaxed and pleasant manner in which you share your love and passion for Zentangle. It oozes out of you and you so generously share that. Thank you!

    Pat Fournier on

  • I am a 2019 CZT, but I have tiles that go back to 2014 when I first became enamored with Zentangle. Providence was a long way from Illinois to go for training, but I am grateful that I took that journey! It took me awhile to gain confidence that I could teach others, but I now teach several classes a year at the local Yoga Studio & have students who have surpassed any talent I might have – including one 10-year-old who got a blue ribbon at the Country Fair for tangling her 4-H lettering! All of that gives me a grateful heart!

    Daryle Coleman on

  • Gratitude is such an important quality for a good life. One of my favorite quotes is: “It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” by David Steindl-Rast. I believe this wholeheartedly. The more we think about everything we have to be grateful for, the more we realize we have to be grateful for. It is a wonderful circle.

    Cheryl Gebhart on

  • I am so grateful for the random chance that I found my first class while exploring the library website in my community.

    Donna L. on

  • I remember my first time touching a zentangle tile. As one who loves paper, I appreciated the weight, the deckle, the tooth. But it wasn’t until I put pen to paper and created something of my own that I recognized how grateful I was for the creators of the methodology, the supplies, tools and infinite learnings not just in terms of the art form but on a personal level. I’ve grown and watched others in the community grow and blossom and share with selfless abandon their deconstructed tangles, their time and energy with gratitude that my eyes and heart have been opened. Every time I sit down to tangle I take a few moments to center and feel the gratitude for, more than the appreciation of, all the tools and opportunity before me. It is rightfully the first step and inherent to zentangle .

    With gratitude and love,


    PamS on

  • I’m grateful that I was part of CZT34 in person! I just got a couple of classes (taught) when covid started. Zentangle got me through some difficult years. Thanks so much.

    Anne Harauz CZT 34 on

  • Yes, gratitude is always the first step in moving forward. I’m thankful for where I am and where I’ve been. I’m particularly thankful for Zentangle which kept me occupied and productive in the years of lock-down when I could barely go out of the house. Drawing kept me healthy and whole for many, many days. I felt connected to a greater Source Energy which spoke to me in many ways. Each time I go back and go through the shoe boxes of drawings, I can feel gratitude for finding a way through the darkness that seemed to cover the Earth and finding the light and life in the creativity it spawned. Thanks to my teachers and to Rick and Maria for giving us this wonderful method to express ourselves and to heal the wounds within.

    Deborah Lee on

  • I discovered the zentangle method during my confinement in France in 2020, and it helped me a lot to stay calm and serene during those troubled times… Today, it’s still my lighthouse in the night. I’ve been battling breast cancer for 7 months now, and it’s been with me during my hospital treatments, so I just want to say thank you!

    Mélanie Marty, CZT36 on

  • I’ve been using the Zentangle method for many years now. This year I am especially grateful to have at my fingertips this meditative focus to distract me from my cancer treatments which began in August. You have no idea how grateful you can be in this process.

    Alice Steuck Konkel CZT 20 on

  • I’m especially grateful for the virtual seminars, when was a wonderful thing coming out of the difficult lockdown. I could not have made the trip to Rhode Island, but I was able to be part of the CZT 36 class and fulfill one of my life goals.
    Thank you!

    Marjorie Webb, CZT on

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