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More Grows in the Garden...

More Grows in the Garden...

Molly writes:

“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.

Molly Hollibaugh


  • For me Zentangle is prayer. My breath is the transportation that takes me to that calm space that is so needed in my life. Repetition only makes everything better! Thank you.

    Paulette Kirschensteiner on

  • Although it took me a while learning to trust the process it is amazing how things flow when I really started trusting. Thanks for continuing to talk about it as it is such an important piece of the tangling process.

    Jo D on

  • My Zentangle practice leaves me feeling peaceful and calm, as I’m sure it does for most of the Zentangle artists out there. This year, my wonderful husband transformed one of our extra rooms into a space for me, just for me to be able to join my inner feelings of serenity and slow down all of my busy days. This time is so precious and few for me! I equate my Zentangle practice to the vintage saying ‘Calgon take me away’. That is what my Zentangle practice allows me to do – get away, breathe, and appreciate the simplicity of one stroke at a time. For me a day without Zentangle is like a day without sunshine! Thank you to all of the Zentangle leaders for introducing and guiding me through these wonderful tranquil moments that I cherish daily! May God richly bless each and every one! :-)

    Mary Stayner on

  • Molly what you say so very eloquently in your blog explains exactly how I feel when I am tangling. Of course that did not happen the first time I tangled. It took time for me to trust the process and let the strokes direct me to a quiet, peaceful place. Once there I found all the worries and concerns of the day, the week. the month to simply melt away. And that, in turn spread out into my life away from tangling. Nothing else works in the same way – as long as one is willing to listen and hear. Wonderful Blog! Thank you Molly.

    Kathy McMurtry CZT on

  • Well said, Molly, you just made my day!

    maudiemay on

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