No Mistakes in Zentangle? Really?

This post first appeared on my old website on March 30, 2016

Yes, really! That’s the beauty of the Zentangle process. First of all, it’s the act of drawing the tile that matters, not the end result. As you appreciate your materials, look at your string, and begin to tangle, things gradually come to you, and your tile begins to take shape. Once in a while a line goes crooked, or you lose your focus and draw a square in the wrong corner. But that’s okay – don’t throw your tile away.

Keep going. Turn that wonky grid into a wonky tangle, and something ordinary suddenly becomes more interesting. Now what will go with that? Empty your mind, look at the space and wait. Soon something will come to you. And if it doesn’t, start drawing anyway. What, it’s not an official tangle pattern? Who cares? It came from you. Relax and let it happen.

Often your finished tile won’t look much like the one in your mind. That happens to artists all the time. What’s good to remember is that you are the only one who can see what it was “supposed’ to look like. Everyone else sees it for the first time. So put your tile away. Go on and do something else.

After a few weeks, bring it out again. Forgot about this one, didn’t you? Now what do you see?

Sometimes you’ll like it when you see it with fresh eyes. Sometimes you won’t. So analyse it. What would you do differently next time? What did you learn? What mistakes would you do deliberately, maybe even go further with?

And what if you still don’t like it? A fellow artist who does collages has another piece of advice. Never throw anything away. Maybe you can cut the tile and make gift tags. Maybe you can paint or colour another layer over it. Maybe it will find its way into a collage or a vision board or a note card.

If it’s still not doing it for you, there’s one last thing to remember. Someone once said the only way to make good art is to make a lot of bad art. Someone else says you have to do something 10,000 times before you become an expert. Any way you look at it, you are one drawing ahead of where you were before you started. And isn’t that something to celebrate?

In the tile shown (Z451-2016Mar4) can you spot the mistake? A small error when my mind wandered made a ‘whoops!’ moment, and I had to rethink where I was going with the tile. Now I can’t even remember where that happened!

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