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Zentangle Patterns for Beginners: Expert Advice from Sandra Rushton

Zentangle Patterns for Beginners: Expert Advice from Sandra Rushton

New to the art of zentangle? If you’re looking for more information on what zentangle is, the benefits of tangling, and perhaps some inspirational zentangle patterns to get you started, then look no further! Qualified zentangle instructor, Sandra Rushton, shares her knowledge and top tips below, on a therapeutic hobby that is taking the creative world by storm!

Sandra Rushton was tangling before she even knew that it had a name. She found that teaching young people set patterns using specific, deliberate strokes of the pen was beneficial in helping them to relax and increase their focus in the classroom. The artwork that they created also helped to grow their confidence, and develop better student-teacher relationships along the way!

zentangle pattern

Sandra focused more on this method of artwork in her own right, after leaving teaching three years ago and setting up her own design and manufacture business creating colouring books for the arts and crafts market.

‘Colouring creates a similar experience, but there needs to be skill involved to a level where the student feels confident, before the ‘zen-like’ effect can occur.’ says Sandra. ‘Zentangle is a much quicker method, and needs no prior skills in order to participate.’

Being able to teach zentangle officially was Sandra’s next step. She became a fully certified teacher (CZT) in October 2018, and is now building her own zentangle workshops, alongside creating zentangle products to help others to discover the incredible relaxation benefits of tangling!

tangling stencils

Her new stencils and starter kits  launched in spring 2019, and Sandra hopes to encourage a whole new audience to discover just how soothing creating these beautiful zentangle patterns can be.

What is Zentangle?

‘It isn’t quite like regular doodling which is ‘mindless’ (where you don’t think about what you’re doing, perhaps whilst waiting in a queue, or on the phone). Zentangle is definitely mindful – you focus on each pen stroke and take the time to appreciate what you have created along the way.’

So How Does it Work?

zentangle pattern

Zentangle is a way of creating beautiful art with gratitude and appreciation (hence the Zen-focus) using ‘tiles’ – which are small squares of quality cardstock that can be worked on in the smallest of workspaces – including waiting rooms, trains, and more. Turn your daily commute into a mindfulness retreat with a little help from zentangle!

How To Tangle:

zentangle pattern

Start with a dot in each corner of your square piece of card, then join these using a pencil to create the border. A line is then drawn (called a string) to create smaller sections within the border.

Once this is complete, switch to using a pen. A Sakura micron pen – a 01 or 02 – is a good place to start, with a 08 to fill in some areas, depending on the pattern or tangle you are creating.

Using deliberate strikes of the pen, work through the steps to create the tangle in one of the spaces. There are usually between 3-6 steps depending on the complexity of the tangle. Add a tangle in each of the sections until they are filled. There’s no need to stay within the sections marked by the string if you want to work outside them, hence drawing it in pencil.

You can go on to add shading to your zentangle pattern using the pencil and tortillon, for added depth and drama. To complete the tile, the creator’s monogram is added to the front, and then their full name on the back. I also set my tiles on the back and, if in a class, number the tile, possibly adding the tangle name too, for future reference.

tangling design

Tips for Creating a Successful Piece of Zentangled Work:

The beauty of working with zentangle patterns, is that there is no right and wrong way to do it! Every one will be different, and that’s absolutely fine – so don’t worry if you don’t think it’s perfect. It’s about how you get there… not necessarily the end product.

Remember to keep it simple; try to learn a few tangles by heart so you don’t have to refer to others’ zentangle patterns all the time.

Be sure to stop and appreciate your tile throughout the creation process, by holding it at arm’s length and turning it in your hand to see it from different viewpoints.

And most importantly, allow yourself to really enjoy the process!

Love this article? Check out the rest of our art projects and tutorials right here on the blog!

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