“More grows in the garden than the gardener sows”
- Spanish Proverb
I have this quote hanging on the wall in my kitchen that my mom beautifully wrote, framed, and gifted to me for my birthday years ago. It hangs in spot where I see it frequently. Although I have looked at it almost daily and appreciated its beauty often, I never thought too much about the actual meaning behind the quote. I think I shrugged it off as a lovely quote about gardening. But then one day recently I read the quote again, and it seemed to have a new meaning.
My husband, Nick, plants a beautiful garden every year. It is amazing. It is his happy place. I love watching him care for the earth like it’s one of his children. Each year he prepares the land like a canvas and continues to work it carefully like a piece of art. Each day, it seems, he goes outside to listen to what the earth needs to tell him and then he carries on working together, like partners. As a gardener, you can have a rough idea of what you will plant and how you will arrange things, but in the end, you must also have open expectations as to how things will evolve. You must embrace the unexpected turns and obstacles that will very likely come your way. And when you learn to embrace all the parts of the process, they all seem to work hand in hand with the glory. Like they need one another to survive. When I watch Nick go out into the garden, I know that he gets so much more than a delicious tomato from the process. The garden becomes a teacher, a friend, a coach. The gardener walks away with patience, confidence, knowledge, appreciation, creative inspiration, general sense of calm and so on. And the proverb is clear, more (does) grow in the garden than the gardener sows.
On this day when I was pondering this quote, though it did make me think of Nick and his garden, it also made me think about practicing the Zentangle Method. We plant strokes of black ink on our tiles, one stroke at a time, slowly building patterns, and those patterns composing art. On the surface, it seems like just drawing, just like a garden might seem to some just like an arrangement of plants. However, when you take a closer look into the creator’s process, you understand there is so much more that is cultivated from this artform. For me, my Zentangle practice took years to speak to me. Or perhaps it took years for me to be ready to listen. When I finally did listen, I welcomed it with open ears and an open heart. I realized that my Zentangle art meant so much more than what one could see on the tile. My practice offered me a space to think. It redirected negative thoughts. It slowed down the clocks when life felt like it was racing. My practice made me feel confident in my own skin. My Zentangle practice offered me a space to feel creative at time when it felt lost. My Zentangle practice inspired me to try new things. It gave me perspective, allowing me to see situations differently than I had before. My Zentangle practice taught me to trust the process, and not dwell on what could or should have been done. It made me see that I can only focus on one stroke at a time. It taught me to let each stroke lead me to the next, on and off the tile.
My Zentangle practice allowed me to see the beauty in my art and myself.
Since I have been a part of the Zentangle community I have been inspired by so many other artists and their stories about creating with the Zentangle Method. I have learned so much from them and their processes. As I talk to these amazing Zentangle artists it has become clear that just like myself, people are getting much “more” from their Zentangle practice than just a drawing of black ink on white paper. The depth of what people are cultivating goes far beyond creating a piece of art.
What have you gained through your Zentangle practice? What has grown and continues to grow in your tangled garden? Let us know in the comments below and we will select a commenter at random to a custom piece of Zentangle art by Molly Hollibaugh featuring letting by Maria Thomas.