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My First Tile

My First Tile

Julie writes…

I have spent a lot of time recently looking through old family photos. I started looking for just a few photos, but next thing I know, it has been hours of sorting through photos. Taking the time to relish the memories, to study the faces of the people in the photos and to reflect on what has changed and what has stayed the same. Sometimes, you do not realize how far you’ve come until you look back at where you started.

The same can be said for your Zentangle practice.

We recently pulled out some of our very first tiles created using the Zentangle Method. This was a delightful trip down memory lane. The pen strokes on the paper feel both familiar and foreign at the same time. While the 8 Steps of the Zentangle Method have stayed the same over the past twenty years, our styles and execution have evolved. It is beautiful to see how our work has grown over the years guided by the elegance of the limits.

In our blog last week, we went back to basics to savor the 8 Steps of the Zentangle Method. The tile we created in that video was inspired by my first tile. When I look at the two tiles, I do not feel as though one is “better” than the other, but rather, one is more confident than the other. That is what years of a Zentangle practice can give you … confidence. Confidence to explore and evolve.

I also see that earlier tile much differently now. I see it as more beautiful, more expressive, and more “me” than I did when I first created it. Not only has my practice changed, but I have also changed. I have a deeper appreciation for the beautiful things around me. I see myself as an artist now and more importantly realize I was an artist then too. I appreciate that first tile more now than I ever anticipated. It truly reminds me of all the different layers of my Zentangle journey and it documents growth and beauty at all the stages.

If you still have one of your first tiles, I encourage you to dig it out. Whether your first tile was last week or 20 years ago, take some time to relish in the memory of first discovering the Zentangle Method. Study the lines and strokes and reflect on what has changed and what has stayed the same. Sometimes, you do not realize how far you’ve come.



Zentangle 20th Anniversary Journal Prompt: Create a page in your journal dedicated to then and now. Add an early tile of yours and a more recent one and reflect on how your practice has evolved over the years and what has remained the same.

#ZentangleTurns20 #MyFirstTile

Learn more about the 20th Anniversary Journal Project here.


Thank you to everyone who tangles along in our #8Steps2024 tutorial. The randomly selected artist who will receive a Zentangle surprise is @mghdkCZT40! Please send your snail mail address to

Julie Willand


  • In July of 2022 we moved from the huge suburb of Phoenix Az called Surprise to a tiny town of 12,000 in Missouri called Poplar Bluff. Needless to say, there is not much going on here but we like it that way. One of my and my granddaughters favorite pastimes is to hit this little discount store called Oliie’s because they have a GREAT selection of coloring and art books at great prices. It was around November of 2023 and we were Christmas shopping. I saw the Alpha Tangle and Zen Drawing workbook and they looked fun. I bought my granddaughter one of each. She was a little miffed she had to wait until Christmas! She didn’t lol cause I ended up looking at hers after she went to bed and couldn’t resist and started using them. She caught me and we had to get another set for her and I was hooked! I saw the tangle website on there and boy there was no turning back. It’s been a stressful year for me with health issues (including a torn tendon in my left index finger resulting in my right hand not working correctly and puckered macula that may cause left vision loss, so I feel like i’m on a race against the clock) and uncertain futures in my 20 year marriage, she and I do art. I love the portability of it. I can take it to appointments, heck, I can take it anywhere! It has been wonderful for both her and my PTSD, it’s very calming. Zentangle has been a life saver for us. around a dozen books, 4 or five eBooks, countless Etsy and Amazon purchases, countless hours on the website, the weekly newsletter and CZT and Affiliate blogs and numerous Google searches. Madelyn and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts, you literally helped save a little piece of our sanity. <3

    Crystal Wilkinson on

  • I discovered Zentangle in 2014 and loved it immediately. I still have some tiles from that year. I have gone through periods where I did not have time to do it, but always come back eventually. I have bought many, many of the Project Packs and love learning new techniques. My bulletin board at work always have some of my most current tiles. People think I am very artistically gifted, but I assure them that they can do it, too, and it’s fun! “One stroke at a time” leads to beautiful pieces.

    Laura Tyler on

  • In 2012, a friend talked me into taking a class in Zentangle with a group of her friends. I have a degree in Art Education but I don’t like to paint or draw. And she knew this but insisted that I would like it. She was right, l loved it. I immediately taught my daughter everything I learned from the class. Her claim to fame is that she couldn’t draw stick figures. It clicked with her as well and in 2015 we both attended CZT20. I teach at my local senior center. She teaches online and in person, has followers from all over the world.

    Who knew all that was because of one class in the Zentangle method. Thank you so much.

    Cherie Hartwick , CZT20 on

  • Dear all, what a blessing to see your first tiles! I kept all my tiles since the beginning in 2022, with the exception of those I gifted to friends and family. I can still see myself on the danish island Laesoe, scribbling happily away with a few fineliners from the supermarket and some pages I had torn from my sketchbook and diligently cut into 9×9 cm tiles (later at home I even rounded the corners LOL) . And it’s funny: The other day I created a variant of “Squidahlia” from PP 21 for a friend’s birthday, and I could still recall the place and feelings when I created the original version. It’s wonderful to see how my practice is getting deeper and wider.

    Ulrike on

  • I started Zentangles a few years ago when my very good friend introduced me to it. She gave me a book, and I just started by following the lessons in the book and the step-by-steo YouTube videos. I love looking back to my drawings from the first to the present and see the growth I have made. Recently, I started journaling some thoughts I had while drawing, or made notes about what I was thinking about when I was drawing. I find it to be very relaxing and therapeutic ! I look forward to taking the Nov 2024 online CZT class to become a certified teacher !!!

    Lise R on

  • I more or less coincidentally came to the Zentangle world — although I do not believe in coincdences — when the corner of a book in a pile at the bookstore just caught my eye. I thought good God how lovely, inspiring and magic-looking patterns! That was 2015! I was in Freiburg with my husband at that time, and I still can see myselt with a small pad and a pencil sitting on the hotel bed trying my first tangle: crescent moon!! I learned that I was able to engage in this and found much tranquility doing so. It turned out that I completed the 4th CZT-training seminar in Europe from Germany 2021! Yes, born in Adams, Ma., I came to Germany with my parents at the age of 12. I also realized and realize how important the Zentangle method has been. My husband passed away 2018. I thought we would have a few more chapters to go in our story, but tomorrow is promised to no one. I am very grateful that all the strokes, one at a time, carried me through grief, and still are carrying me actually. It has been a wonderful experience from then to now and, when comparing my own tiles, I do see and feel the difference taking a blank tile then and now. Many thanks Maria and Rick, Molly and Martha for sharing all your time, creative thoughts, stories and….part of your lives.

    Karin Schmid on January 25, 2024

    Karin Schmid on

  • I discovered Zentangle in 2011, and my hubby snickered at the thought of Me and Art in the same sentence…I ordered my first Zentangle kit in that beautiful turquoise mulberry paper covered box with the big button closure. It’s become a real treasure box for me!

    Time passed, things change, people rotate out of our lives…but I recently rediscovered my treasure box at Just the Right Time…which is always NOW! Thank you for sharing your gift with US! It’s a delight that Zentangle is appreciated around the world! Thanks to this community for the inspiration and sharing your artwork on the Mosaic app! Much Gratitude to all!

    Andrea G on

  • I have kept ALL my tiles. They are in protective sleeves in 12×12 notebooks and other sleeved containers created by fellow tanglers. I did not shade in the beginning, just enjoyed drawing the shapes. I discovered my chronic autoimmune pain levels decreased by 50%, too. Zentangle helped give me back my life and love of art.

    DM Smith CZT38 on

  • Dear wonderful people!
    Thanks for the journey into this unique world of zentangle!
    I discovered it in 2014.
    And since then I haven’t stopped getting tangled up.
    This for me is relaxation, calming, release, charging…
    Zentangle gives me faith in my abilities!
    An opportunity to express everything that is inside my soul – the pain of losing loved ones – husband, parents,
    going through difficult stages of life,
    an attempt to revive from everything experienced…
    waking up to something new…
    Zentangle is the best method I’ve ever come across!
    Thank you!
    Be blessed on your journey everyone!
    May entanglement bring many more people joy, delight and peace of mind!

    Dafi on

  • I’m a beginner who has just started to learn zentangle and Iove it. I did tried the back to basic tutorial and had fun tangling

    Norma McDonald on

  • I discovered Zentangle in 2018, after moving to CT. My local Senior Center offered it, and all the other fine arts classes were waitlisted. So I joined the Zentangle class. They had all been tangling for quite a while, and were far beyond the beginner’s level. CZT Carol Dunn handed me a large sheet of fabriano paper, a PN pen, a pencil, a tortillon, and some step-out sheets, and told me to watch her demo and follow along. Other class members were very welcoming helpful, and encouraging. We started a project that evening that took about 3 weeks to complete, and included some strange marks called tangles, some watercolors, and a few metal charms! My finished piece was quite impressive, (if I do say so myself)! I framed it and gave it to my daughter for her birthday! I think that first success kept me coming back for more. I am very grateful I had Carol as my first CZT. She spent a lot of time preparing her lesson plans (which always included new patterns, as well as old favorites)! She was patient with students who didn’t catch on right away, but let those did work at their own pace. She was my idea of the perfect teacher, attuned to the abilities and needs of her students! I appreciate the solid foundation she provided us, and the savvy secretary who steered me towards this amazing art form! It’s going on 6 years now, but I never get tired or bored with it. And I’m so thankful for Rick and Maria for creating it! Just think, we are all “living your dreams!”

    Jessica L Dykes on

  • I recently found a tile from 2010. I don’t think it was my first tile but it was close to my first. I remember pretty much snarfing down the first little Zentangle book in the kit and drawing all the tangles and I remember how quickly after that I wanted to be a CZT and teach others.

    Lisa Hoesing on

  • I was first introduced to the Zentangle Method back in 2012 whilst in a Stress Clinic suffering chronic depression having been bullied at work for 4 years. I named my piece “The Forgotten” I had always been creative, I went to Art Collrge but then emigrated and photography was my second major, the first job I got was as a wildlife photographer in Australia. I returnedcto Ireland 8yrs later after my mum died in a tragic accident. I couldn’t get work and somehow found myself working in computers. I enjoyed mh job. I did it for 15.5yrs until the universe did a course correction on me. I was devestated to begin with. I couldn’t understand why this was happening. I lost everything. I had worked so hard for, except my beloved pets. Then covid hit and j thought, I can help people. They are going go lose a lot and suffer a lot. So I started Zentangle Club Ireland and taught for free for 2yrs, then set up Zentangle Club Ireland Members Hub where there is a small fee to cover materials. But getting back to my first piece.. I called it the forgotten because I had forgotten I was an artist. I’ll never forget that again and I will trust in the universe without fear 💜🙏🏻 Thsnk you Rick, Maria and Team fir creating this wonderful method, it saved my life 💜🙏🏻🌟

    Angelina CZT 24 on

  • I love to draw. Zentangle is my favourite. It is so relaxing. Margot

    Margot M Laver on

  • In 2012 I ordered the green Zentangle kit. I created my first tile on April 4, 2012, my 63rd birthday. I show this tile to participants when I teach the Fundamentals class. I was self-taught since there were no teachers in my area then. I took the CZT class in 2016 and now we have 4 CZTs from here.

    Harley King on

  • Looking at the Sakura Pigma Micron pens made me learn about Zentangle method. I went to your blog and newsletters. i did my first tile in 2019. Bought the books and some Projects packs. Now I’m a happy tangler!

    Thank you Rick, Maria, Molly, Martha, Julie and all the people I met along the way!
    Nathalie Paré

    Nathalie Paré on

  • Back in 2021, l began collecting Zentangle books 📚. Then l ordered two dvd kits to eagerly begin.

    One of the kits was for my great niece. When l sent her the kit l included my first tile. Uncertain of
    what l was doing l made my first tile black on white with red as well as that was the way the illustrations showed the method. Fast forward to 2024 l am still putting my zentangle tiles in a dingbats journal. I now have many more supplies and have signed up for CZT 42 Virtual. In the coming months l will be studying with a local CZT. Meanwhile l am learning from Primer 1 ….
    Excited to now be adding Zentangle to my calligraphic journey which began in 1980.
    Best in Tangling
    Valerie Lynn Hodgins

    Valerie Lynn Hodgins on

  • A lady in line at my local art store had a Zentangle book … I said that it looked interesting. She said I would love it. That was nine years ago. The rest is history!

    Ann Baum, CZT36 on

  • My first tile was completed in a class at my local college. I remember creating a small tile with Crescent Moon. I don’t remember the other tangles. It was 2014.

    Gail Oliver on

  • I was self taught with the Zentangle method, using the Primer 1 book combined with the supplies in the Zentangle box, beginning in January 2020. I never tangled with anyone or attended a class before becoming CZT36 later that year online. I have my first tile numbered as I actually numbered all my tiles that starting year haha My true pleasure to this day is going back to the beginning – classic white tile, black ink, graphite.

    Jenn Brayton CZT36 on

  • One of my first tiles looks remarkably similar to one of Julie’s! I kinda understood what a string was. I had no thought of shading, and remember being amazed at having done something that could be called art! It’s thrilling to remember back to my pre-CZT 9 days in Providence and consider how the dream of Zentangle has become so much wider and deeper than anyone could have imagined.

    Lorna Aaronson on

  • My first tiles were done on the tan tiles as that what was provided in the free intro class I was privileged to attend on May 3, 2014. We did crescent moon, baton, crescent moon, printemps and tipple. I fell in love. ☺️💚☺️

    Jacki Fry Brewer, Czt25 on

  • I have more first tile framed. I often reflect on it as a reminder of my journey with Zentangle.

    Jeanne on

  • I just LOVE seeing all your first tiles. I had been looking at my own fist tiles recently and reflecting on how my tangling has evolved and changed. I love your reflection about this, Julie. Thank you so much!

    Diane Harpster on

  • When I look back to my first tile experience, after looking to the DVD’s which were in the big Zentangle box (2011): I went from drawing with pen in an diary to drawing with a fineliner on a tile. I went very deep into it and started drawing so very tiny, more than 14 tangles fitted on one tile! When I tangle now I tend to keep it to about 3 to 5 tangles on one tile sized drawing. Much more relaxing to do and to look at, ha ha! :-D

    ArjadLH, CZT9 - Elefantangle on

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