THE BEAUTY OF ZENTANGLE
There was an interesting and thought-provoking post in one of the private Facebook groups, noting how people often get discouraged looking at all the amazing artwork posted on social media by Zentangle community. Many CZTs have voiced that either they or their students felt unfit to post their drawings or even continue drawing. I decided to explore how to find the beauty of Zentangle through process vs. outcome.
I always feel sad when people feel intimidated or not good enough. Perhaps it has to do with my own feelings, so what I feel is empathy, too. I am quite certain that we can all relate to such experiences, in one area of life or another. However, what I found is that Zentangle really helped me with being gentler towards myself and other people, instead of contributing to my insecurities, as some others suggested. I would like nothing more than the same empowering experience to happen to everyone.
I’ve read through many of the comments and found that most of them revolved around two topics: process vs. outcome and ZIA vs. traditional Zentangle art.
Enjoying the Process is the Key
I don’t think that there is anyone who might try to dispute that the joy found in the process is the key factor that contributes to the creative process. When I talk about the process, it’s not only about applying the method itself (following the steps of the method, which is incredibly important, especially for the beginners), but also about our intentions and energy invested into the process. The repetitive nature of Zentangle allows us to focus on the moment, slow down and savor each deliberate stroke. The unplanned nature of Zentangle art gives way for surprises and artistic growth. There is so much to enjoy!
Outcome Is Not Irrelevant
However, I would not underestimate the importance of the outcome. Last step of the Zentangle method is appreciation of what we have created. We observe our drawing from arm’s length and admire it. By learning to see the beauty in what we have created we also learn to appreciate the beauty in ourselves. Accepting the flaws enables us to make peace with our own imperfections.
Some of the comments suggested that Zentangle is not about art. I would like to use several quotes from the Zentangle Primer Vol. 1 book to reflect on that:
“We designed the Zentangle Method to open inner gates of creativity so you can create beautiful art in an easy and relaxed manner without a long learning curve.”
That does not mean that the goal of the process is to create a beautiful result. It is about savoring the process, appreciating the result and learning from the process and the result of it by taking time to reflect on both.
“Creating with the Zentangle Method results in beautiful, unique, and original pieces of artwork that reflect the nature of the artist who created them.”
The Zentangle method is a wonderful tool for expanding our artistic skills and finding our own artistic voice. There is nothing wrong in using such a precious tool to try to create something beautiful and share it with the world. And there is so much wonder in using the method to empower others to create, see the beauty in their creations and share them with the world. I feel privileged and rewarded to be able to do as a certified Zentangle teacher.
Traditional Zentangle Art Vs. Zentangle Inspired Art (ZIA)
Zentangle has changed a lot since I discovered it, which was in 2015, and even more since it emerged from the fantastic minds of Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts. In the beginning, only a few tools were used to create black and white traditional Zentangle art. As time passed, new tools were introduced and right now it’s really difficult to tell where traditional Zentangle art stops and Zentangle Inspired Art begins. Is it the addition of color, using tangles to create representational art or something else? Even the founders of the Zentangle method do not want to place an importance on making the distinction clear.
Click here to read one of the latest blog posts by Zentangle Inc. on this topic.
Do we really need to label our creations? It seems to me that there are too many “shoulds” connected to our art. Should we do more traditional Zentangle art? Should we promote the basics? The only “should” that’s valid for me is the one that sparks joy. That’s what drew me to Zentangle and it’s the only thing that I don’t want to lose. So, the only relevant question whenever I start tangling is: what will spark joy for me right now? Sometimes it’s the simplicity of black on white and more often than not it’s the exuberance of color bursts. One is not better than the other. “Tangle on my friends.” – the blog post wisely concludes.
I did write a few comments and replies under the above-mentioned Facebook post. Whenever I do that, I get very conscious about the heaviness of the written word. With English being a foreign language to me, I fear that what I write might come across as dismissive of other people’s feelings or thoughts, which is never my intention.
Nobody wants to force their opinions on other people. However, I would like everyone to be accepting of all the beautiful aspects of Zentangle, appreciative of the abundance of beautiful supplies and techniques and different choices that we can make every day, open-minded and non-judgmental about creating and viewing our own and other people’s art.
We should not run away from the beauty in our drawings, instead we should embrace and celebrate it. I got an impression that some people think that there is something wrong or contrary to the Zentangle principles in commenting on other people’s work by saying that it’s beautiful. Beauty is not only found in a perfect line or a correctly placed shade. There is so much of it in every shaky stroke and every imperfect shape or highlight.
Ultimately, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and what’s better than being able to find beauty in everything that we observe?