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"Hearken" (and Happy New Year!)

"Hearken" (and Happy New Year!)

Hearken verb
  1. to hear with intention
  2. to give respectful attention
  3. to bring to mind something in the past: hearken back

Today, January 1, 2023, we celebrate New Year’s Day of 2023.

This is an appropriate time to look back on, or hearken back to, the previous year of 2022. 

When you finish a Zentangle tile, we always encourage you to hold it at arm’s length and appreciate what you’ve created from a different perspective. We also encourage you to turn it this way and that so you can see what you created from different orientations. You may notice compositions and patterns that weren’t obvious when you were closer to it. 

In the same way, hold this past year of 2022 at arm's length as you would a Zentangle tile. Turn it this way and that. Appreciate it from different perspectives. What do you notice from this different perspective? What patterns do you see?

New tanglers often say, “I see patterns everywhere!” It’s not that patterns have suddenly appeared where there were none before. Rather, it’s that they have become conscious of the patterns that were always there, but which they never noticed. Patterns aren’t limited to designs on paper or fabric. You will notice patterns in nature and in architecture, in history and in social trends, in weather and in seasons, in how you respond and how you react. 

Do you see a pattern that intrigues you? Can you deconstruct it to its elemental strokes? if yes, you can transform that complex pattern into an easy-to-draw tangle. You can use that inspiration to create something beautiful, one stroke at a time.

Notice the sequence here. You moved from being unaware of patterns, to passively noticing patterns, to actively creating your own beautiful patterns!

You can apply the same approach to noticing larger patterns in life and then to create something beautiful on your "tile" of this coming year. As you tangle your tile of 2023, keep these Zentangle guidelines in mind (and heart):

  • Focus on the stroke you are making. The stroke you are making will not improve by regretting a previous stroke or worrying about a future stroke.
  • Turn your “tile. And observe events from different perspectives. 
  • Remember to breathe.
  • Relax your grip on your pen.
  • “No mistakes.” There will always be events that are unplanned, unexpected, and unwanted when creating Zentangle art. But we remind people that such unexpected events can be inspirations to respond in a way that taps into your creativity more than if it had not happened. On the larger canvas of our life, unexpected and unwanted events can have greater impact, but  the principle still applies. You always have the creative "response-ability" to make any situation better and more beautiful, one deliberate stroke at a time.
  • Gratitude! In all things, gratitude

From all of us at Zentangle, Happy New Year! . . . wherever in the world (and in your year*) this finds you!

We look forward to seeing what we all create in the coming year . . . one stroke at a time.



As you hearken back to and appreciate your 2022 tile, what did you like? 

As you look forward to your 2023 tile, what are you inspired to create? 

Let us know in the comments below.



* In researching this post, we learned there are about 40 (!) calendars in use today. Some are based on patterns the moon creates, some are based on patterns the sun creates, and some are a combination of both. Others are patterns more arbitrary.
  [Edited 12:00 1/1/2023]


Rick Roberts


  • Gratitude is a daily practice, right along with my drawing “one line at a time” but I must admit I am a little behind with my emails and notifications of things not marked urgent, after several months of family crises, funerals and feasting. All this is truly behind me and nothing I can erase (as in a tangle pattern) but I am appreciating having had my tangle practice to see me through it all. I have much to be thankful for and intend to teach, when I can, the process of being WITH the lines, not just drawing them – and finding peace therein.

    Annie Sargent, CZT #33 on

  • Hello,

    wishing you all at Zentangle a wonderful year. (a little late) I had to write to tell you what a beautiful tangle headed your Hearken post. Can you please tell me the name of this tangle. I’d love to try it.

    Miriam on

  • My daughter, Carrie, allowed me to read this post from her phone on New Year’s Day. We were in the hospital, where Carrie was recovering from major surgery to remove a cantalope size tumor from her left ovary. She received the pathology report this evening. She has cancer. . . She will have to have another surgery and chemotherapy. . . We knew it was a distinct possibility. To keep track of her medications when we took her home, I pulled out a simple sketchbook that I had recently purchased. I had tangled a frame around the perimeter like Maria did in one of the Zentangle books. . . We used that to write down the events of the day. I found it calming to tangle frames around several pages. When I left her home, I left the sketchbook and a couple of pigma microns. . . Carrie is going to continue to tangle the borders. . . Thank you Rick. Your post means so much to us as we face the future, one step at a time. May the Lord Bless your New Year!

    LLS on

  • Is there a video or instructions for this Zentangle ‘Hearken’ at the top of this newsletter? The use of the copper and black is beautiful and I would love to see how it is done.

    Pam on

  • I love this, Rick. I love all of the ways that the Zentangle process relates to living daily life. I am grateful to you all.

    Diane Harpster on

  • Rick, I admire your wisdom.

    Sue Bradley on

  • I‘ll take that word „hearken“ to my heart for the year to come. One of the great wonders of 2022 was that by pure accident (is there something like pure accident?) I learned to know Zentangle. What a gift! Happy new year to you all!

    Ulrike on

  • As I look back onto Tangling 2022 see so many new tangles created and released through your grace and generosity that have delighted and yet challenged my growth to be open to tangles that at first glance don’t appeal to me. Once understood and completed allow me to see other tangles and life situations differently. It is my hope to spread the love of tangling further in 2023 as in the past nine years of tangling, seven as a CZT- the greatest gift to myself and my community! ❤️

    Kathy Y. on

  • I tried posting yesterday but my comment disappeared into the ether. This post was the first thing I read on new year’s day. Thanks for this wonderful treatise. It is so well articulated & so true. Much gratitude.

    Rimona Gale on

  • The metaphors of Zentangle inform my life always. I am grateful for this gift. Thank you Rick for reminding us.

    Deb Murray CZT30 on

  • Gelukkig nieuwjaar 2023 Hartelijke dank voor geweldige hobby dat , het brengt rust en vrolijkheid in mijn leven. Liefs van Belgie

    Lisette on

  • It’s always great to know new words and to refresh the core of Zentangle. Thanks for keeping everything rolling this way and to offer that many ways to get involved within the method and its creators. Thanks and have the merriest of the merriest this 2023

    Os on

  • A wonderful message. Thanks for keeping us engaged all year & for everything you do. Happy New Year! Wishing you all Peace & Plenty.

    ~SailandbeJoyful~ on

  • Happy new year to Rick, Maria and your team . Everything is inspiring and I am thankful for it . Zentangle is part of my life now and I am grateful I found Zentangle 😘😘

    Poh Yen Ho on

  • Thank you for a very powerful message and reminder. Thank you for all that you do for the Zentangle Community. I am so grateful to have Zentangle in my life since 2013, it’s my place of peace and meditation. Wishing you and the family a very prosperous 2023!

    Brenda Urbanik on

  • Breaking down and recomposing our life like a pattern with the same no-mistake and one stroke at a time philosophy, I had never thought of that. It’s awesome. I think I’m going to start my next class with this message: our life is like a Zentangle pattern that we build stroke by stroke . There is no mistake but just an opportunity to create something else better that is in you, that belongs to you
    Thank you for your inspiration, your sharing. You make my life positive. I wish you an happy creative New Year to all of you 🙏🤩💝

    Françoise Drouven on

  • I’m inspired to create – simply create. I’m trying to smile at any opportunity to create – whether in baking cookies, fingerprinting with my granddaughter, tangling tutorial sessions or singing a new tune. Zentangle continues to inspire me to breathe, relax, and be in the moment. Thank you

    Nancy Needler on

  • I harken back on how I am greatful for the inspiring tangles that you Rick, Maria , Molly, Martha and Julie created and looking forward to seeing what you guys come up with this year.

    🪅🎉HAPPY NEW YEAR 2023🪅
    To all

    Bruno Kudrecki on

  • Well-said, Rick! This is a great way to start the new year. As I hearken back to 2022, I am so pleased with the supportive bond that has developed among a group of veterans that I meet with weekly (virtually) for Zentangle. They derive support in many ways- the consistency of friendly faces and genuine, warm feedback, the inspiration they exchange, the “I can’t believe I did that!” moments, the increased ability to notice and interrupt muscle unnecessary muscle tension, the ability to let go of perfectionism, to forget about aches and pains and cravings, to live in the moment, …I could go on and on. But it has been empowering as a way to help them self-manage symptoms—and I am so grateful to be able to share it with them! As I look ahead to my 2023 “tile,” I’m eager to create an even larger community, using this wonderful “Vitamin Z!!” Thanks to all of you at HQ, and Happy New Year!

    Julie Till on

  • Wow Rick! Your post is so profound and inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. From the start I have always loved how relatable to everyday life the Zentangle method is.
    As I turn my 2022 tile this way and that I see how what I have called mistakes have led to unexpected opportunities and how hard and dark times have also had highlights and bright spots. In 2023 my intention is to live one stroke, one day, at a time, breathing deeply and expressing gratitude. Thank you so much ZHQ for creating such a wonderful community to be a part of.

    Liz Gatehouse on

  • I hearken back on how I appreciate Zentangle and the joy it has brought into my life especially as I found it in my most darkest hour. It’s four years on from that event & I feel that Zentangle was one of my reasons for carrying on giving me purpose and joy. I just want to say how grateful I am that Zentangle is on my life. I’m starting to use the Zentangle philosophy now in my life as well. One day, one minute sometimes one second at a time creating a stroke of life like creating a stroke on a Zentangle tile. Thank you Maria Thomas & Rick Roberts for such a wonderful creation & philosophy.

    Sue Douglas on

  • Hearken…such a perfect “word for the year” which many are seeking at this time.

    Once again,Rick, you touch us with your mindfulness!!
    Mahalo, Deanna Williford, CZT 3

    Deanna Williford on

  • 2023-Happy new year to everyone.
    Thank you Rick for this blog very much appreciated. It is so true how the Zentangle Method changes lives and helps with both mental and physical health.
    I have had a brilliant year, yet with ups and downs as life usually has. I focus on each moment of each day, with a hint of planning (as life needs).
    I tangle every day, and this helps ground me and gives me healing a d quiet time I need.
    As we grow older and/or have ailments which may hinder us, i believe in my heart and soul that the Zentangle method helps us through. So thank you Rick and Maria for bringing this into fruition. X

    Gloria (Jo) Flynn on

  • During 2022 I had a spinal operation, which has at last put a halt to many years of lower back pain. Zentangle again helped me through the three months of recovery when I wasn’t allowed to do much except sit. Since 2012, Zentangle has been beside me, helping me through the tough times and rejoicing with me during the high points. It is so much a part of my life that I can’t imagine my days anymore without it. I am 80 now.

    Sue Zanker on

  • Thank you for all the inspiring tangles. I am really enjoying my new CZT “Zenthology and The Zenthology of Tangles”. Rediscovery is an important element in personal and artistic growth. Happy New Year to all.

    Judith on

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