I think I have always been a person driven by creativity. Some of my early and happiest memories involve me drawing or painting. Crafting, DIY projects, drawing and painting are in my DNA. I am as close to obsessed as I care to admit. Let’s just say if I am at your house and you break a pretty dish and then throw the pieces in the trash, I’ll be the one crawling through your doggy door to go through your trash at midnight. I’m kidding! kinda….No seriously, I do admit going into our local Michaels® Arts & Crafts store and staying for four hours once. I’d felt like I’d been there for a while, but not over an hour, and then I realized the time……. 4 hours!!!??
I’m a craft-a-holic diy-crazy girl. However, this post is about how drawing and painting saved me from crumpling further into my illness more than any treatment or medication ever could or would.
It began one day when I was in my Doctor’s waiting room, she was running very late and I had nothing to do. I refused to read any more of the plethora of AARP magazines spilling over on every table, and had forgotten my trusty Kindle®. A man stood up next to me and walked away and I noticed the young woman seated one seat over. She was drawing on a little square card of some sort, At first I thought, fantastic, now people are drawing on Post-it notes to avoid boredom. I was doomed. But I continued to watch.
Minutes passed, and I moved to the seat next to her to accommodate a couple, allowing them to sit together. I glanced (stared) at what the woman was drawing on her little card and was stunned. It was amazing, and very detailed. Wow! I complimented her and she explained that it was a new method of art therapy for her, explaining further that in fact it was completely founded with the idea of relaxation and as a method of refocusing. She told me it was called Zentangle®, a method of artful drawing, and being present in the task of your artwork, she mentioned further it was founded by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. The woman very kindly gave me a list of books and a website address. I simply could not wait to get home! I was a tad nervous because I had undergone a major brain surgery years before that had left me with terrible hand tremors, but it was too late for nerves, I had not had a creative urge in years. My illness had taken over even that part of me. I was so excited to feel a creative urge again. This was really big for me.
I’ll give you the Cliffnotes® version of Zentangle® here now, and will go in to further detail on a later post. Zentangle is a method of patterning on paper. By patterning, I mean, patterns are everywhere; in the thatch work of a basket, the way a bowl of glass pebbles lay next to each other or even the embroidery weave of your shirt. Trust me, once you begin looking, you’ll be overwhelmed with the number of patterns you can use to draw a tangle (one of many patterns you draw on a Zentangle® tile). Which is exactly what you do. You draw a squiggle of some sort on a “tile”(a little card made of a delicate Italian linen paper that you purchase from Zentangle®). Then you fill your squiggle (see my first picture below) in with different patterns in each area of that squiggle. To be honest when I read about the tiles, I scoffed at first, why couldn’t I just use a regular piece of paper? However, as soon as I drew on one of these tiles, I knew why; the precision and give of these beautifully textured paper tiles is the perfect medium for your very detailed work. Note: There are now companies selling acid-free tiles which are much more inexpensive. I have not tried them yet, but plan to. Although, I love the Zentangle® tiles so much, I cannot see how any could possibly to compare. They might be wonderful to practice with however. Amazon.com carries a brand I’ve heard mentioned before that are a sturdy weight with a fine tooth structure. Check them out here.
There are no mistakes, and I can carry one card with me for a day of appointments and possibly not even finish it. It was so wonderful to find something that I could relax in to. I no longer carried the stress that went along with doctors appointments and tests. In fact, I’d get there early sometimes just to draw.
Gradually, I stumbled on several other Zentangle® books (whatever, I hunted them with guided missile like precision). Some of the books gave ideas of coloring materials to try. Many of these things I already owned, some I saved up for. Now I think I own more colored pencils, watercolor pencils, pigment ink markers, enamel pens than my kids entire school district. I do have my favorite on hand at all times whenever I am in my office (meaning a room with a desk, full of color, surrounded by my kids favorite artwork), more like my oasis.
Many of the books suggested trying other ways of using patterning. Some of which were called “Dangles”. I really liked these, because I could do almost anything on them. They hung from “rods” you drew across the top of the page, and whenever I am bored, I grab one and either add something or color a design. It’s not a science, and these really aren’t great examples of Zentangle® in it’s purest form. But, I love it, and that’s how I weigh it’s importance.
Now when I am unable to leave either a hospital bed or my own, I begin bigger projects. Always keeping in mind the art and relaxation of patterning; although sometimes you just can’t beat drawing a bunch of flowers. All of these techniques have helped ease the weight of the oh so heavy collateral damage chronic illness leaves in it’s wake. Everyone has stress, no one person’s stress is bigger or more important. We cannot trump each other over our circumstances, everything is absolutely relative. That said, this is a suggestion for a little relief, a strong one. What have you to to lose? No one is watching, until you feel like sharing your art with them.
If you would like some links to Zentangle® and other resources. I have added them to the bottom of this post today. I highly recommend Zentangle® as a huge stress reliever. PLEASE…..absolutely do NOT say you are not “creative”. It is an excuse! You know you doodle when you are on the phone. So do it with a little more thought.
To practice any art, no matter how well or how badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it!
Enjoy your day!
First of all once Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas released the Zentangle® method on the creative world, competitors realized how huge it would be, so their are other books and techniques out there. I myself have purchased some books under the title ZenDoodle, all are great. I think I just favor Zentangle® over other because their products, training and the motivations behind them are always very pure, and I like that. That said, shop away! Whatever you love is what you love!
The Actual Zentangle® Website I strongly recommend you purchase The Zentangle Kit if you are really interested. It seems pricey, but it is so worth it. The CD alone gives you many very cool tangle patterns, and there are enough materials to keep you busy for months. I’ll make another post about some other inexpensive tools you should buy, but those are all under $10 bucks. They also sell a beautiful hardcopy book on the site, and it is really like opening a gift to yourself every time you open it. They explain everything you need to know and more and you feel as if they are some your closest friends in the way they write.
Some of My Favorite Zentangle® Books
Joy Of Zentangle® (Design Originals
Zentangle® 9 -Adding Beautiful Colors with Mixed Media (Design Originals) Please note: Design Originals has MANY Zentangle® books depending on what you want to do, so you should really hit Amazon.com up and search around. I love the ones that involve color, but there are even some that show you how to Zentangle® on shrink plastic to make jewelry.
Zenspirations Dangle Designs (Design Originals) This is the book that inspired me to try the Dangle designs above.
**One other resource you might consider is the wealth of Zentangle® informational videos on YouTube. Check them out!
Please note: I do not represent Zentangle® nor am I paid by Amazon. (Though as much as I spend on Amazon, they could at least kick me a buck or so every now and then.) ;) Seriously though, these are both the resources I use at least 90% of the time.