There are eight steps to the Zentangle Method. Number four is the string. A Zentangle string is always created in pencil. In fact we will often say to create a string with a light touch. Allowing the pencil to just tickle the surface of the tile, leaving just a whisper of graphite in its path. A Zentangle string is magical as it nearly disappears by the end of creating tile.
I’ve been thinking about Zentangle strings a lot lately. A Zentangle string is unique and its purpose and definition often evolves as one’s practice evolves. People that view Zentangle from afar may know little about a Zentangle string. As by design, it often cannot be seen. When one first creates using the Zentangle Method, the string is a hard guide. A string is structural and gives us confidence to move from pattern to pattern. Some artists feel that they need to stay within the perimeters it has set and that uncertainty is welcomed to dance freely within the defined spaces. However a Zentangle practice quickly challenges the restriction and invites one to choose when or when not to use the string’s suggestion. The more strength in our pen strokes and growth in artistic confidence allow one to see that a string’s delicate presence is actually not a demand but merely a thoughtful suggestion. A comforting voice encouraging ideas and inspiring direction. It's an empowering feeling to overstep that boundary for the first time. To take a little step into another world can be a relief. And maybe it leads to a giant leap marking a bold decision. A string teaches us lessons in embracing both intended and unintended marks as part of our deliberate journey.
As an artist of many years, I faced a blank sheet of paper time and time again. It is always the first marks that are the most challenging. Like any journey in life, the first steps can be the most intimidating. I embrace my pencil string on paper to give me guidance but honor and value that it is I that manifest its destiny. And I know now that in my life, too, I can cast a virtual string to guide me and suggest my path but it is I that can choose how to follow it and make it beautiful.
Thank you to everyone who shared with us their generous and passionate advice for new tanglers in our last blog. If you have not had a chance, take some time to read the advice in the comments - whether you are a new or seasoned tangler.
We have randomly selected ten commenters to receive some Zentangle goodies! If you see your name below, please send your snail mail address to firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Liv CZT 26
2. Lisa Burns
3. Deb Prewitt
4. Inge Frasch
5. Ruth Johndrow
6. Sharyn Penna
7. Deb Turnipseed
8. Pat Mathes, CZT 15
9. Lydia Meneses
10. Pat Chaloux