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Rules to Tangle By

Rules to Tangle By

Julie writes...

When people first discover to the Zentangle Method, they sometimes ask about the “rules.” Whether it is an email I receive or a conversation I come across online, people have questions about black and white vs. color, tangling surfaces, which tangles to use, and other inquiries as they begin heir Zentangle Journey. There is often a desire to do things correctly and they are seeking clarification.

So here my friends are the official Zentangle Method Rules:

1. There are no rules.

The Zentangle Method has steps to guide you in creating Zentangle art, but at the end of the day the Zentangle Method is all about putting pen to paper and creating art. If you are doing that and having fun, then the rest does not matter.

Original Zentangle art is done on a white square tile (approximately 3.5”) with black ink and we always suggest that is where you begin but there is nothing that says you cannot explore beyond the basics.

We love to tangle on different shape and color tiles, but there are endless surfaces and tools to be explored. For example, with Maria, we often laugh that, “no surface is safe!” Whether you are tangling on a square tile or tangling and giant mural on the side of the building, you are creating Zentangle Art.

A few weeks ago, we shared a blog Molly wrote a few years ago discussing Zentangle art vs. Zentangle Inspired art. I encourage you all to read that blog here.

The other question we seek asked often is about which tangles they are allowed to use. If a tangle is not an “official” Zentangle tangle, can it still be used? The short answer: yes. The long answer: is also yes. There are also no “official” tangles. There are tangles that Zentangle, Inc. have deconstructed and published, and some say those are the “official” tangles, but as you might know, we are not a huge fan of labels here and that label can often lead to confusion. There are many tangles deconstructed by Certified Zentangle Teachers and other members of the Zentangle Community that are just as “official” as a tangle deconstructed by Rick and Maria. You may also find that different people deconstruct similar patterns without knowledge of one another (a great blog on this topic here). We encourage you to explore any tangle that catches your attention.

Now, if you are anything like me, you may really like rules. They offer an elegance of limits that is comforting and provides direction. So, if you need a rule to help you get started, I have a good one for you…

1. Have fun.

Julie Willand

33 comments

  • I relentlessly followed the tangles I found in several books when I began. Since then, I’ve modified, colored, and adapted for other uses. Tangles are unrestricted in use and method.

    Margaret H Doman on

  • Thanks for the terrific article, Julie! 🤗 It’s reassuring to know that I’m not breaking any rules!

    Jan ~ Sailandbejoyful~ on

  • Zentangle’s “no rules” is fun and so freeing! Love it! Thank you!

    Jeanne on

  • Just as it’s always good to go back to basics occasionally, it’s also good to be reminded to take it easy. Thanks Julie.
    (Just a suggestion, near the beginning of your article, instead of “original Zentangle art” (isn’t it all?) how about “classic Zentangle art”?
    Have fun!

    Margaret Bremner on

  • When we tangle with paper and pencil and pen Some may ask, what rules are there then? We tanglers respond, the rule is fun! and joy! and glee! And you’ll soon learn why when you tangle with me!

    Jacki Brewer, CZT25 on

  • I got such a chuckle this morning when I read the first rule in your post, Julie. Sometimes “no rules”can seem a bit scary especially to a beginner in an artistic endeavor. With Zentangle, though, while there are no rules, there is structure. It is this structure, gently applied, that makes Zentangle so much fun. Thanks for your post!

    Leslie Hancock on

  • Thanks for the sweet blog Julie. One can never hear these things too much.

    Rimona Gale on

  • In Zentangle there are no consequences…just pure enjoyment in the fact that my hand connects to paper(or?) through ink and makes a mark. That mark wanders, turns into a “c”, an “s”, an “l”, a square. a circle, repeats to form a pattern and, “Voila!”…There is joy and wonder and amazement in what results. I’m thrilled to have come upon this form of expression. There is a kind of insane magic to it that delights and lifts the spirit.

    Viv on

  • Rule 2: no judgements, comparisons or Criticism, repeat Rule 1!

    Susie on

  • The most fun always wins no mater the outcome, the score or the rules. It’s because those things don’t mater, it’s just the fun that maters no mater what we do in life.

    Sue Leslie on

  • Thanks for this reminder. It needs to be said, over and over again. We live in a very rule based society and we expect rules. So we must be reminded when there are no rules.

    Lisa Hoesing on

  • Rule #1 Have Fun!
    Rule #2 See rule #1!
    This was a perfect blog post for me to read today! Thank you!

    Kate Ahrens on

  • Delightful article answering questions I’ve had about official or unofficial! I am always so impressed by the generosity of Maria and Rick’s ways. Thank you again for giving me a leg up on believing in “the true beauty” shining bright in spite of the brokenness we see all around us. Kudos to y’all! Great article Julie!! ❤️

    Susan Talbot on

  • Delightful article answering questions I’ve had about official or unofficial! I am always so impressed by the generosity of Maria and Rick’s ways. Thank you again for giving me a leg up on believing in “the true beauty” shining bright in spite of the brokenness we see all around us. Kudos to y’all! Great article Julie!! ❤️

    Susan Talbot on

  • Wonderful Julie!! You write what we feel and want!

    Norma T. Grinberg on

  • Love these “rules for those rule oriented tanglers.

    Wanted to share: when my Doctor came into my exam room for an appointment,
    She glanced at my art notebook and said, “what is that? I immediately felt calm from my first glance!”
    That was her first experience with Zentangle!
    You never know when a new opportunity will arise to share this meditative art form!

    Gail Rosin on

  • The best rule that no one can dream of. Thank you!

    CARMEN MENCHÓN GALIANA on

  • Whenever & wherever I find myself with a group of people working on a task, my fallback question is “Are we having fun yet?” In the Zentangle Method it’s all about the FUN of creativity & freedom from rules! 🙃 Thanks for sharing an escape from rules, where creativity & simplicity collide into beauty Tangled pieces of art!

    Josephine Wood on

  • Great message, Julie. I also would like to use this for my beginning Zentangle classes.

    Joyce Rosenberger on

  • Rule 2: No judgment, criticism or comparison. Repeat from Rule 1!

    Susie on

  • Rule #2: When in doubt, see rule #1!

    Jessica Dykes on

  • How do others fit the rest of their lives in around tangling? LOL.

    Rondy L Murray on

  • I definitely “have fun” when I Zentangle. I’m so blessed to have found this art medium!

    Dianne on

  • LOVE it :-D

    ArjadLH on

  • Hi, I started the zentangle at the end of June and this article illuminates me on many things. I have the answers to my questions. Thank you so much

    Babou on

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