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Zentangle Day One

Banji’s gotten me into a new trend: Zentangle. The basic idea is to use drawing purposeful, repetitive strokes to enter a calm, zen state – what artists tend to call being “in the zone.” I’ve been having a lot of fun flipping through Banji’s Zentangle books for inspiration and trying things as they meet my fancy.

One of the books she has is particularly interesting: One Zentangle a Day by Beckah Krahula. It teaches the Zentangle method over the course of 6 weeks. I like the idea of having a more structured approach to learning an artistic method, and frankly I need the daily zen practice. I’m hoping it will help me to quiet my mind, focus, and be more intentional in my everyday living – and to manage my anxious depression symptoms.

I started out on the kitchen table with just the book, the same sketchbook I drew the dark horse in, a regular ball point pen (black ink), and a mechanical .7 mm pencil.

A table top with the book "One Zentangle a Day," a sketchbook, a green mechanical pencil, a purple pen, and a square piece of white paper.

I was glad I could start out using items I already own.

After practicing today’s tangles a few times in the sketchbook, I started my Zentangle. I took a 3.5″ x 3.5″ piece of acid free drawing paper, used my pencil to draw a dot in each corner and connect them, and drew a couple of lines to separate the drawing area into 5 sections. Then I used my pen to fill each section with one of the 3 tangles I’d just learned.

The process was relaxing and a lot of fun! I love focusing in on one small area, doing the same repetitive motion over and over again, and then zooming back out to see a much more interesting and dynamic whole than I had expected. Happiness rushed through me – not the calm, contented, “zen” happiness I had expected, but an excited, engaged, and active energy. I focused it in on each stroke of my pen and savored the feeling of that energy flowing through me.

In the meantime, my mind would allow only brief moments of silence, when the only thing happening was drawing the Zentangle. I didn’t have any music playing, so it decided to play “Let It Go” from Frozen. I’ve started learning the piano part, so I’ve got the introduction fresh in my mind, playing on repeat, very slowly. It’s in minor, so if you slow it down too much it gets rather depressing. I’ve been trying to nudge my mind into playing the whole song at the correct tempo, with the lyrics in the correct order.

My mind decided that, instead of acquiescing to my request, it was going to play around with the melody and rhythm – essentially, creating its own variations on the opening of “Let It Go.” I grinned. I can totally do that for fun, and I’d love to jot down the melodies as my mind comes up with them. They could make great inspiration for an original composition.

I liked it a lot less when my mind decided to start going into things I need to do in the near future. I told it that this is time to focus on drawing. The redirection was a lot easier than I’d expected. Drawing is fun and relaxing, and my mind likes being creative.

When I finished working in pen, I started to feel anxious and a little angry. I didn’t want to be finished! I wanted to keep Zentangling! But then I realized that I still needed to add shading. “You wanted to keep going. Well, we’re not finished. Help me shade this.” Once again I zoomed in, not worrying about how the gestalt would look, but following the procedure. “You’re supposed to shade this part of the tangle.” I had my own interpretation for one of them, but I was consistent. I relished the new visual textures I was creating.

Then I zoomed out, and wow! My Zentangle looks as good as any of the ones in the various books I’ve had the pleasure of flipping through. I love looking at it as much as I enjoyed drawing it. And I get to make one of these every day! It’s fantastic. I want to share it with everyone.

original artwork by Ziya Tamesis

original artwork by Ziya Tamesis

On the back I wrote: “One Zentangle a Day, Day 1, 3/31/14, [my home address], kitchen table.” I appropriated a plastic storage container for this and any future Zentangles, my remaining 3.5″ x 3.5″ squares, and the cardboard cutouts I have for making new squares and circles. It, unlike far too many items in this house, has a specific home that is easily accessible.

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5 thoughts on “Zentangle Day One

  1. I’m really glad you’re enjoying it! I only have one book: http://www.rakuten.com/prod/the-art-of-zentangle/240455625.html?listingId=-1&scid=pla_google_rakuten.com&adid=17260&gclid=CKKahuCXw70CFSsQ7AodMyIA9Q
    So far though, I’m loving it! But I also really like the idea of a daily practice, provided I don’t beat myself up emotionally if I miss a day every here and there. I will check out that book! 🙂
    I like your tangles, very pretty 🙂

    Like

  2. Reblogged this on Radically Mad and commented:
    Zentangle is a meditative, repetitive doodling practice I’ve gotten into lately. In this post, Ziya Temesis describes hir experiences with zentangle as a way of managing hir anxious depression!

    Like

  3. Pingback: An Epic Day of Being Awesome (Zentangle Days 2-4) | a day with depression

  4. Pingback: Let’s Play Skyrim | a day with depression

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