Zentangles : A Review
In my pursuit to find fun and new ways to express my creativity on paper, I stumbled across a new art-form called Zentangles. A zentangle is a method of creating images from imaginative patterns. You start by dividing off sections of a small piece of paper and then you draw repetitive doodles and designs within each section. (These are known as tangles). Each doodle and design has its own special and unique name and of course, you're welcome to make up your own tangles. When you are done filling in each space with a different design, you've completed a unique piece of art.
The Zentangle website provides extensive information on the benefits of this art form, where they came from, and how to get started with one of their kits. In my haste to start utilizing this simple-yet-elegant art-form, I ordered one of their Zentangle Kits for $49 USD. Each kit comes with 34 tiles (pre-cut pieces of thick, watercolor paper), 2 Sakura Micron pens, pencils and a sharpener, an instructional book and DVD, a 20-sided dice, and a small Legend that contains 20 tangles to get you all started with.
The Zentangle Kit comes beautifully packaged. It's the size of a thick hardcover book and was designed to fit on any book shelf. Inside the box, everything has its own place in the divided containers within the "book". Everything about the kit screams quality. The creators choose archival and high quality paper to use for the tiles as well as spending the time and money to pre-print one side with your artist information. The Micron pens are also art quality and archival, which means your art will last a long time and not fade.
The DVD is interesting. It takes you through the process of creating 3 zentangles in real-time. There are no words and no sound (although, another reviewer said that their DVD had music, so I'm guessing that I wasn't able to get sound on my system due to the strange set up my hubby has). It's fun to watch and shows you the infinite variety and combinations that you can go about stringing each tangle together to create and appreciate your art.
After flipping through the small book, I immediately jumped in and set to work on creating my first zentangle. The paper is thicker than I'm used to and a bit small but it's surprising how the smaller sized artworks tend to help free our creativity more. Fifteen minutes later, I completed my first piece of art. And set off to do another... and another and another.
It's really hard to find a flaw with the Zentagles idea. They're fun to make, unique and relaxing to do. The kit, on the other hand, seems a bit sparse for $49 but the money is well spent considering all the high quality tools that come with it. The DVD is a mini-disc that requires a tray loading player to view) and the instruction book does get you going, but the limited supply of tiles to start with means that after a few hours of playing with the tangles you must either "graduate" and move onto using different types of paper or go back to the website to order some tile refill packs. Of course, this is more of a nitpick for me than a deal breaker because I have a notebook just waiting to be filled up with more of my own tangles.
Bottom Line: Zentangles are fun to create and quick to do. Creating tangles does not take any expertise and anyone can create one. There's no messy cleanup and this becomes a totally self-contained art hobby. I love that I can immerse myself in creating a single zentangle and feel good about having produced something. I can totally see the tangles becoming a new variant on Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) and have also considered creating or scanning in tangles to use as personal business cards. I also can't wait to try my hand at creating larger zentangles inside my journals or even on large sized butcher paper. For more ideas and what people are doing with their own tangles, check out the Zentangle website galleries.