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Look Through Your Own Viewfinder

Look Through Your Own Viewfinder

When I take a picture, I look for beauty in my viewfinder. 

If I’m taking a picture of a person, I look for an uplifting part of their personality. And whatever the subject, I work towards a pleasing geometry of scene. I don’t over-think my shots because I expect that as soon as I look through my viewfinder, I will get inspiration for what to do. And if I don’t, I don’t force it.

Sometimes I see a picture of an interesting location and I go there with my camera. But I don’t go to take the same picture that inspired my visit. I go because I am inspired to discover what new perspective I will find in my own viewfinder.

It works the same with tangling. When I see a tangle that intrigues me, I’ll tangle it to find out where it can take me; to see what I can do with it.

For me, a Zentangle tile is like the viewfinder of a camera. It begins blank, but when I turn on “tangling mode,” the tile’s edges become just like the frame of the camera viewfinder.

After taking pictures and tangling tiles for a while, I can see how much my perspective affects what I create. Now, when I see a photograph or admire someone’s tile (or read something in the news), I remind myself that I am perceiving those pictures and tiles (and stories) through their creators’ viewfinders.

So, take inspiration from the tiles and tangles that others create. And then, get out the metaphorical viewfinder of your blank tile and ride the inspiration of your own creativity. You just might discover wonders you never knew existed.


Rick Roberts


  • Rick, I can so relate to your using the word springboard. I’m using the lessons in project pack 6 to get me learning & going in new directions & finding that the lessons are launching pads for exploration.

    Rimona Gale on

  • Yes. I like to learn from other peoples tangling and I like to look through my own view finder at their tangling. I call the lessons I learn best, side lessons. What I mean is that when someone is teaching a tangle, what I’m learning (in addition to the basic tangle steps), is how they think, and it’s always different than how I think and it can open my mind up a little.

    Lisa Hoesing on

  • Thanks for the great reminder about the viewfinder. I focused on that a lot in my teaching of art. Didn’t make the connection to my tangling. But I will now! Thank you.

    Paulette KIrschensteiner on

  • This is so true, whether you are tangling, drawing, taking photos, painting, cooking, reading a poem, a book, or seeing a play, a film, or an opera! We all experience things differently, through the perspective of our own personal viewfinders! I am not interested in merely duplicating someone else’s vision or work, but rather to take inspiration from their vision; to expand upon it to build something fresh and new! Thanks Rick! You are always inspirational!

    Jake on

  • Yet another good lesson for us all. I have seen so many people intimidated by looking at others’ tiles. I’ll continue to encourage them but will also incorporate your “personal viewfinder” metaphor. I love it. Thank you. We are each so unique; we each have something to offer.

    Devin on

  • Beautifully expressed. We can certainly get inspiration from someone’s tile or rendering of a tangle and then make it differently accounting to our own creativity or mood. I approach recipes the same way. I start with a recipe in a cookbook or online and change it according to what I have on hand or what is appealing at the moment.

    Jacki Richey on

  • Time and time again, I’ve completed a tile, turned it “upside down” and found an image of something that I had been thinking about earlier in the day or the week. It’s uncanny.

    Linda Dochter, CZT on

  • Beautiful utilitarian idea.

    Pamela A Wissinger on

  • Wow wonderful take 😁

    christine maskaly on

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