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Just Keep Tangling

Just Keep Tangling

Julie writes

I think I say this after every Zentangle Project Pack, but the latest one, No. 23, might be my favorite. Even though I was part of the tangling team, I still followed along with the videos on my own and I loved every single day – even when things did not go quite as planned.  

On day 8, I listened and tangled as Molly led us in filling the points around the circle. I even heard her remind us to alternate the points as we filled in the first tangle, but I got so into the flow that I forgot to alternate. "Oh no, I messed up.” was my first reaction.  

I felt that initial feeling of, “Oh no, its ruined". Then I heard Bijou’s little voice whisper in my ear, “no mistakes.”  

The No Mistakes philosophy is not about mistakes or missteps not happening, it is about how we handle them. There was a time in my tangling journey where I would have started over. But I had already put so much time and effort into this project, I felt I owed it to myself to see it through and to honor the method and the work I had already done.  

In that moment, I chose to pause. To breathe and to leave it be. I left the remainder of that circle untangled for several days. I finished the rest of my template, shaded, and added all the love before I went back. During that time, I rarely thought about how I would continue. I glanced at it every so often but for the most part, continued on.    

When I was ready, I went back to that and looked for other ways to finish it that were unique to my piece. Which tangles did I want to use and how? Like Molly said, I just needed to make a decision and keep going.  

When teaching, I always tell my students to keep going and when they are finished, they won’t even notice the “mistake.” When I finished my template, I thought to myself that it looks exactly like it was supposed to look like.  

I was not sure if I was going to share this story – as we have told many like it before, but then I saw this comment on our Instagram page when we announced that April’s theme would be No Mistakes.  

I am looking forward to this as I feel like one of the sections pack 23 is just all wrong. I don’t know how to fix it and struggling to go back and finish it.  

My advice to you would be just keep going. Finish the rest of it and revisit it when the “mistake” is not so new. Can you add other tangles or dramatic shading to change it? Can you add a Bronx cheer? Maybe, when you finish the entire piece, that one spot will not even feel “wrong” anymore.  

And, remember... Breathe. Take Your Time. No Mistakes.

Julie Willand


  • I finished my project 23 and even though there’s so many mistakes, i drew some zentangles backwards lol I switch things up sometimes in my brain and it doesn’t make sense, but i love mine anyway. Id share it but i dont know how.

    Lori Bowles on

  • I have a question, not a comment: I missed where to find the letters that are used in this Project Pack #23? Rick said something in at the start of Day 10 but I didn’t hear any other mention of it. Thanks

    Laurie Chester on

  • Thanks for the NO MISTAKES reminder! 3 weeks ago I fell and broke a bone in my ankle and thought what a mistake I had made following the granddaughters down a steep muddy wet bank. Then I took a breath, thought about no mistakes with my tangling and applied that to this. So just an unfortunate step, but tangle on one step at a time including still going on a planned cruise cast and all!. It will heal and there will be more play time with the granddaughters. Yea for Zentangle and no mistakes!

    Sue Lesle CZT on

  • Erstaunlich zu erleben, wie sich schon 8-10 jährige Kinder unter Druck setzen können. Habe über mehrere Wochen ein Zentangle Projekt mit meiner 3./4. Klasse gemacht. Darunter ein sehr perfektionistisches Mädchen… zu Beginn öfters mit Tränen in den Augen, wenn es nicht klappte, wie sie wollte. Ich sagte: « Das Ziel ist erreicht, wenn ihr Freude am Zeichnen habt. » Daraufhin entspannte sie sich mehr und kam irgendwann lächelnd zu mir mit den Worten: « JETZT bin ich zufrieden! »… mit noch dazu einem sehr ausgewogenem Tangle…

    Anne Ott on

  • Hi! I love your story. I wan wondering if you have any prompts for April?

    Holly Pelissier on

  • Hi! I love your story. I wan wondering if you have any prompts for April?

    Holly Pelissier on

  • This resonates with me in Zentangle and in life: The No Mistakes philosophy is not about mistakes or missteps not happening, it is about how we handle them. 👍

    Emily Suess on

  • I have to admit, Julie, it took me a very long time to “find” your “mistake!” Even with your “clues!” All I saw was a beautifully tangled manuscript page. I always tell my tangling, drawing, and painting friends about the “no mistakes” philosophy! It applies to many more art mediums than Zentangle. Unless you are creating a commissioned piece, all the viewer will ever see is your finished work. Unless you show them a photo to compare, or point out all your “perceived mistakes,” no one will ever know it wasn’t intentional! So, “Shhhh!” ♡♡♡

    Jessica L Dykes on

  • Your work is beautiful. I think the three darkened points give the letter some “weight” when I look at it. But what I really love is how you brought Printemps down to follow the point in the upper left hand. The whole piece is so unique. Thanks for sharing.

    Lori Riden on

  • Oh Julie, you are so sweet to admit you felt you made a mistake and I love you for it. Really though, you didn’t make a mistake. I believe things happen the way it should be as there are no mistakes in Zentangle. No one but you would ever notice. Your art is always beautiful. To me, is one of the best parts about teaching the Basic class to new tanglers. NO MISTAKES! No matter how their art turns out, I believe each and every students is always perfect for that moment.

    Brenda Shaver on

  • I agree that it looks exactly as it’s supposed to look! Since the “mistake” is at the top of your W, it appears that you meant it to be that way on purpose! Your finished project is beautiful! I really like the color scheme of your background painting. And thanks for being vulnerable and sharing. All of you are just terrific!

    Cindy Dove on

  • Thank you for sharing so honestly with us, it’s lovely to know we’re not the only ones that feel like this. I was like Diane where I got brave and switched some things out, which I wouldn’t have done before, especially on such a huge piece. I think being a CZT definitely helps with my perfectionism as I have to walk the talk lol. I made a few ‘mistakes’ on this project but carried on and they turned into something a little bit unique, and I love them now :) Your finished piece is beautiful. I love how you mixed up the centres, they’ve inspired me to try something similar on another tile :)

    Ruby McGuire, CZT on

  • I was recently working on a PP whose number eludes me now. Maria offered an alternative to the supplies and if you didn’t the 3z tiles you could use an Opus. When the string was completed you would have 72 different sections to tangle. I started working on Day 2 and royally messed up the inking. I mean baaaaad. I was so mad at myself but kept doing the next 2 tangles for the night. At the end of the video she says we’ll now complete each tangle 5 more times before going to the next video. I was soooo upset and ready to toss this tile. I talked to my best friend and told her I just wanted to start over and SHE said….“don’t you have a NO Mistake philosophy with that Zentangle thing?” I said no one would know! Alas, I resigned myself to repeating that mistake 5 more giant times. It looks great! Lol

    Misty Johnson on

  • Doing my own work and teaching others this method has really taught me to let go of my perfectionism. Thank you Julie for sharing this. Before knowing this, when your PP23 was displayed, I admired how you chose to be different for your circle tangles!

    Mary Kay Cass, C.Z.T. on

  • I am getting more “comfortable” with the no mistake philosophy. Yay! But where I feel I am truly growing as an artist is to risk changing up the tangles being taught. I found myself in PP23, saying… “nope…I’m a grid girl and I am going to enjoy switching out the botanical one to a grid tangle… it’s my happy place”. Wow. I would not have done that a year ago and just kept with whatever the “teacher” is teaching. Feels great to loosen up and do what feels beautiful and nourishing for me. Thank you so much.

    Diane Krompart on

  • Great, great advice, Julie! Boy, can I identify with this! It has happened to me more times than I can count. (And lately I’ve remembered to remind myself, “appreciate the flow and the new choices …” lol) I want to tell you that when I first saw your completed piece a few days ago, I admired the variation in your circle “points” – they are different and unusual and distinctive and very cool. I’m looking forward to working on this Project Pack!

    Peyton on

  • Love your post. I was so excited for pp23 becuz my husband is a scholar of illuminated manuscripts. I researched and thought about how I would do mine. About 1/3 in, I was discouraged. Not what I was hoping to achieve. But I kept going and now I accept it for its beauty and its flaws- just like me!

    Jody. L Church on

  • Oh, Julie. As usual, in your quiet, calming way, you soothe us all with your honesty and sincerity. Beautiful post.

    Becky Ruiz Jenab on

  • How can I get this Zentangle pac?

    Gloria Askin on

  • Julie, your PP23 is beautiful, have not started mine yet as I am still working on PP22 but am looking forward to starting it soon. Thanks for all you do to support Zentangle.

    Donna Kinsler on

  • Liebe Julie, es passiert nicht nur Dir, dass man denkt etwas falsch getan zu haben. Fehler sind dazu da, dass sie gemacht werden, wie man damit umgeht …… na ja, es fällt häufig zumindest beim Zeichnen nicht auf. Aus Fehlern kann man auch lernen.

    Rosemarie Seefeldt on

  • hihi NO mistakes to be seen. Thank you for your blog, always great to be reminded.

    ArjadLH - CZT9 - Elefantangle on

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