Author Archives: rhondaroy

About rhondaroy

Making sense of the world around me seems to be the theme of my life. Every job I've had has involved creating how-tos for those that follow, or explaining what I'm doing to those around me. For someone who grew up with the messiest room in the country (according to my mother), I've developed a love of organization, and like nothing better than to put things in order. This, however, does not include my house!

Zentangle: Basic Black online class

In this journey through the looking glass, we’ll work on black tiles with white materials. How will familiar tangles look? What techniques come into play?
Tangling on black paper gives us a chance to play with highlights as well as shading.

Sat April 3 online 10 am-12:30 pm
$30 – no materials supplied
Materials kit available at the MAC for $17.50 with registration
Zentangle Basics a prerequisite (March 6th class available)

Supply list:
– 2 black 3.5″ tiles
– 1 white 08 gellyroll pen
– 1 white chalk pencil *
– 1 black chalk pencil*
– 1 clean blending stump
– Basics tangling kit (black micron, graphite pencil, blending stomp)

*white and black chalk pencils can be chalk, charcoal or pastel

Process or Outcome?

(The first version of this post appeared in my old website on June 27, 2017.)

As we move through various phases of our lives, it seems that we are always revisiting things we have learned but in a different context.  Focusing on ‘process’ over ‘outcome’ is one of those things for me. 

Clear your mind. Take a minute to appreciate this time and your materials. Deep breath. Now what’s the first tangle that comes to you? Start there.

Learning about Zentangle taught me the importance of being in the moment, letting go of judgements, and re-learning how to create just for the joy of it.  If it had not been for Zentangle, I don’t know if I would have ever rediscovered this.  It’s all about the process of drawing; the experience of actually creating something is more important than the finished tile.  The magic is in how satisfying the end result usually is.

This is a hard feeling to hang onto when we talk to other people.  We are so used to measuring worth in terms of outcome that creating something just for the act of creating is a hard concept for some people to get. (If you don’t believe me, find out how many seconds it takes for a new acquaintance to ask what you do/did for a living).  

“But what do you DO with it?” they ask me when I tell them about Zentangle.

Often I do nothing with it.  My daily tiles are not meant to be ‘done-with’.  I keep them in a photo box so I can paw through them from time to time. One box will hold at least 365 tiles, so I have one for each year I’ve tangled. It doesn’t take up much room because I have no plans to display them all.  I do post my daily tiles on social media, but that’s my commitment to show up regularly with a tile and without judgement.  I want to be okay with not being perfect, and to show others it’s okay, too.

Creating a tile for the fun of it. Is it perfect? Nope. But it was so much fun anyway! Z2562-2021Jan15

Even my Zentangle Inspired Art (ZIA) is something I do to please myself.  I create things I want to in order to explore art techniques, to experiment with tangling things on different surfaces, or simply to please myself.

“You should sell your stuff,” is so nice to hear, and I am pursuing this with some of my ZIA.  But from time to time I need to pull back from that aspect for one simple reason.  

When you start to prepare art for sale it becomes about outcome again.  And it becomes easy to second guess yourself.  Now you aren’t just pleasing yourself, you’re pleasing your prospective buyer.  And you need to produce in order to sell.  It’s pretty hard to ignore the “what if it isn’t good enough?” voice in your head.

For me, that’s when it’s important to make it clear in my mind the purpose of what I’m doing.  Is this piece meant to be something I am creating to please just myself?  If so, whether or not it sells, or other people like it is beside the point.

Isn’t that what art is really about?  Making something that gives you joy, or simply gives you a voice, regardless of what other people think.

When you focus on the process and the joy of creating, and you just keep doing it, the outcome really does take care of itself.

This visor was for sale in the Artisan Gift Shop at the McMillan Arts Centre in Parksville. Did I know how it would turn out when I started? Nope – no plans – just focused on the process and enjoyed it!

Zentangle Basics Class – Mar 6th

Have you been curious about Zentangle? This is the class for you!

Learn more about the world of Zentangle by exploring some basic “tangles” as well as the philosophy and the process of this fun art form. With one simple stroke at a time, you’ll discover how simple, relaxing and enjoyable Zentangle can be. You’ll create two tiles of your own and have a chance to see how they fit into a larger mosaic. No art experience necessary – anyone can practice Zentangle and benefit from the meditative aspect of this form of drawing!

Online Class offered through the McMillan Arts Centre

This is a MAC-Affiliated Program offered online and offsite with Rhonda Roy.

Saturday, March 6th from 1:00-3:30- pm
Cost $30 CDN
Materials kit available for an additional $15 (pickup only)
Register online here

Materials needed: Black 01 Micron, an assortment of white 3.5″ tiles (or nice paper cut into 3.5″ squares), pencil, blending stump. If you do not have these things, work with what you do have –we’ll get inventive!

This class is a prerequisite for other Zentangle classes from any CZT (Certified Zentangle Teacher)

Adding colour to a tile

Today’s tile took me on an unexpected adventure.

I started with a simple idea – what if I used N’Zeppel for a string and filled it with a fragment like Crescent Moon?  Couldn’t be easier, right?

As I tangled I decided to make my N’Zeppel spaces pretty big, and to blacken the interstices (the bits in between). It seemed only logical to blacken around the edges as well, so that the N’Zeppel spaces would stand out.

Then the fun started.

As I drew my Crescent Moons, a little voice told me to wait on blacking them out. The background is already black – I might want to do something different.

Then I started to like the negative space in some of the areas, places where I didn’t put the Crescent Moon auras all the way. When I decided to stop I still had a lot of white space. And I liked it just the way it was! I didn’t even want to shade it!

But I did want to try some ideas.  So I scanned the tile in and made a couple of copies, then started to play.

In the first version, I used a navy PN pen to fill in the Crescent Moons, but it seemed too dark.  So I tried lighter blue.  I liked that better, but what about shading?  So I tried three different shades of blue pastel pencil.  I decided I liked the lighter blue for the Crescent Moons, and the darker, almost Navy blue for the shading.

Hmmm.  So what if I used a different color altogether?  Enter the orange Micron – oooh I like that!

For shading, I didn’t want it all orange, so I tried orange/yellow/orange around the aura areas, and yellow in the negative spaces. 

So today, I’m going with that color combination.  But guess what?  I kept the original tile white – room for more experimentation.

So when in doubt, I highly recommend scanning in your tile and then trying all kinds of things. Who knows what you’ll come up with?

Afraid to Shade?

This article was originally posted on my old website in 2017.

“I love my tile the way it is – I’m afraid shading it will mess it up!”

I’ve heard that comment often from my students.  While shading adds a whole new look to your tile, it is another area where uncertainty lies.  How will you know you like it better when it’s shaded?

First thing to remember is – it’s pencil.  Pencil can be erased.  I know, there are no erasers in Zentangle, but if worse comes to worse, you can always go back to the original tile as long as you’ve shaded in pencil.  It’s your art.   Nobody will tell on you!

Second rule of thumb is to shade in layers.  Start lightly, laying down a small amount of graphite and gently pulling it down to create a shaded line.  If you use the side of your pencil and shade gently, there will be no hard line to blend or to dig into the paper.

Third suggestion is to use the side of your tortillon or blending stump when you’re shading and move in small strokes.  This gives you more control over where the graphite is going.

Is the shading still not showing?  Go back and add another layer of graphite in the places you want a bit darker.  Blend again, and keep doing this until you have the effect you want.  Depending on the paper and the tangle, and where it is in the image, you might add more graphite in some places and less in others. 

Worried about smudging?  If you lay down too much graphite all at once it can look too heavy, giving the whole tile a greyish look.  Keep a light touch, and be aware of where your hand is so that it doesn’t trail the graphite where you don’t intend.   

Go slowly.  One stroke at a time when drawing with your pen, and also when shading and blending, too.

It’s important to remember that shading isn’t something you tack on at the end of a tile.  It’s part of the whole Zentangle process and that means it deserves the same attention as your pen lines.  Take time to look at your tile, admire it, turn it, and see if you’re drawn to a particular area.  Add your shading slowly and carefully, and enjoy the simple strokes and calming effect of working slowly and carefully.

Remember too, that there is more than one way to add shading.  Depending on your tile you might want to shade the overall shape, add detail to a tangle, or create depth to your piece.  You don’t have to do it all. 

Finally, if the idea of shading the original tile is still causing anxiety, you can always scan in your tile and make copies.  Then you can experiment until you find the look you want.

A CZT can provide more details, techniques and examples, and there are a number of different shading techniques that can be fun to explore.  Join me online for ‘Draw the Shades’, an online adventure into all the ins and outs of shading in Zentangle. ‘Draw the Shades’ is Nov 7th from 1:00-3:30pm PST and you can register online here, or contact me for more info.

Simple shading can make a tile jump to life.  Try these suggestions and see what happens!  

Holiday Party Crackers

Have you ever made your own party crackers?

We’ll tangle a holiday-themed wrapper for your party cracker.

Yes, the material kit includes those snappy  ‘cracker snaps’, and enough  materials to make 4 crackers in total!

You add your own goodies along with the basic innards provided, and we’ll assemble at least one cracker together.

After this class you’ll be able to make your own party crackers for any occasion!

Saturday, December 5, 2020

1:00-3:30 pm PST

$30 CDN / $45 with kit included (6 kits available only)

Click here to register now

Prerequisite: Zentangle Basics is a prerequisite for this class. Contact Rhonda if you’d like a private or semi-private online Basics lesson first.


It’s just a practice piece

Taking an art class doesn’t have to be intimidating!    

Have I told you what happened to me when I took a silk painting class?  I couldn’t wait to try out the technique and I knew exactly what I wanted to do for one of my scarves.  The instructor showed us what to do for the first scarf; drop some colour onto the scarf and let it blend over time.  I pictured a lovely scarf with sunset colours, orange and green and red.  I could see it in my mind.

I picked up the red ink and dropped some colour onto my white scarf.  Hmm.  It looked like blood drops.  Well, okay, it will get better.  I looked over at another student who was dropping greens and blues onto her scarf.  It looked luscious already.  Well, I thought, I’ll just keep going and see what happens.  I picked up the yellow and dropped it in places around the scarf.  Now it looked like some kind of pus or infection. And the red was spreading out.   The whole thing looked a bit like a crime scene!  What to do? 

Before Zentangle I probably would have started to panic and worry that the whole thing was ruined.   But actually, I started to laugh.  I decided to call my scarf Dexter (remember that show?) and set it with the others to continue spreading the colour throughout the scarf.  It doesn’t matter – it’s just a practise piece anyway.

Onto the next scarf.  After stretching it on the frame, we were shown how to add resist lines to create an image.  I pictured a scarf full of giant poke roots and poke leaves in purple on a blue background.  Again, I could see it in my mind.  As it was the first time using resist, I worked slowly and carefully, but there were still places where the resist didn’t get right onto the fabric and when I added the colour there was a little bleeding.  When I looked around, I could see some of the other scarves and they looked perfect – colours all in place, lines clean and neat, and overall effect quite stunning.

But here’s where it got interesting again.  Instead of comparing my efforts and feeling discouraged, I found myself saying, okay, this worked here, but not there.  Next time, I want to ….   and I was enjoying the parts that I liked and analyzing what I would do differently next time.  I was thinking of this as my practice piece.

And that makes so much sense!  Once I let go of the idea that I was going to create a perfect scarf in this very first attempt, I gave myself permission to risk trying other things, experimenting, and analyzing as I went along.  It’s just a practice piece.

And in true  Zentangle fashion, when both scarves were done, I was very happy with the overall results.  Dexter was a beautiful splash of orange, yellow and red – not exactly sunset looking, but bright and cheerful and quite lovely.  And my pokeroot scarf goes perfectly with a dress I sometimes wear. While it’s not perfect, the effect is quirky and charming. 

So the best lesson I learned from taking this class is to embrace my own learning style, and enjoy the process.   Others may ‘get it’ the first time around, but I don’t have to.  I can just have fun learning about the process, trying it out, and just messing around and figuring things out on my own from there.  The result might not be perfect, but it’s me!

I’m not going to pretend I never succumb to ‘comparanoia’, but when I do, I just think of my Dexter scarf and smile. 

“Art is in intention, not perfection.”

Draw the Shades

Afraid to Shade? This online class will have you shading confidently in no time!

Draw the Shades will give you a taste of a variety of Zentangle shading techniques, and review a few simple guidelines for Zentangle shading. Bring your shading questions and watch your Zentangle work blossom.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

1:00-3:30 pm PST

$30 CDN

Click here to register now

Draw the Shades is a great follow up class for those who have taken Zentangle Basics and want to refine their shading skills. All you need it your Basics kit and some tiles or good paper (ask me if you aren’t sure). With a little practice, you’ll Draw the Shades with flair — there’s a world to explore in the gray area!

Prerequisite: Zentangle Basics is a prerequisite for this class. Contact Rhonda if you’d like a private or semi-private online Basics lesson first.

AIZIA – Alhambra-Inspired ZIA

The Alhambra is a palace in Granada, Spain, known for its beautiful architecture and gardens, among other things. In this online class, (originally taught by Inge Frasch, CZT), we will create a ZIA piece reminiscent of the Alhambra using a string created by Marieke Sanchez, CZT.

Together we will transfer the string onto paper and then explore various tangles to fill in the spaces. You can create a gorgeous piece in black and white, or use your favourite medium to add colour. We’ll have time to get a good start on the tile and you’ll be able to finish it on your own confidently and be able to do more.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

1:00-3:30 pm PST

$30 CDN

Click here to register now

Prerequisite: This class is offered only to students who have already taken a class with me. But even if you’ve only taken Zentangle Basics or Art Bites you will love it! And if you’ve been itching to add colour to your Zentangle work, this is the perfect opportunity. Contact me if you have any questions.

Supply list:

  • Your starter kit (01 pen, pencil, tortillon)
  • Black PN pen
  • White 10 gelly roll pen
  • Good quality art paper (watercolour or dry medium) roughly 7.8” square (19-20cm) or larger
  • Your favourite medium to add your own touch

Class materials kit (PN pen, paper and #10 white gelly roll) available for $15 –  pickup only

Upon registration, you’ll receive and email with the Zoom invitation and further details.

About the paper: You’ll want a nice quality thick paper with a little bit of tooth.  140lb watercolour paper works nicely, but if you’re not using wet medium, a dry media art paper would be fine.

Contact me by e mail if you have any questions about materials needed.

A Tale of a Tile

In my daily tangling practise yesterday, I pulled out this blue watercolour background tile.  The splotches lent themselves to three different areas to tangle, so I selected three tangles at random and began.

As I tangled, I thought about various aspects of the patterns – I started with the grid area, thinking I’d use Cubine, but changed my mind decided to use Dex, after I’d outlined each box so it would have a coffered look.  

Once Dex was finished I looked at the area where I’d planned Shattuck.  I decided to go for the curvy version to balance the boxiness of Dex.  It looked a little too light, so I used black on the lines and in each corner to give it a little weight.

Now on to the Jetties.  I wanted them big; I usually draw small Jetties so the larger version appealed to me. Making the bands all black seemed like it would look too heavy, so I opted for an airier, echoism-type tangle to fill them in, and used black bands to mirror the Shattuck bands.

Now for the shading.  I picked up my graphite pencil and tried shading. I was in the living room watching TV and my pencils were in another room.  It wasn’t long before I realized graphite was not going to be the look I wanted, so I left the tile until the next day when I could shade it in the way I wanted.

The next day, with my full array of coloured pencils, I went in and softened the graphite look by adding several shades of blue in the shading and finishing with some white coloured pencil for highlights.  As I was shading I realized I’d made one band of Shattuck different from the others – there were three ‘fans’ in a row going in the same direction instead of alternating.  Interesting.

In Zentangle we talk a lot about ‘no mistakes’. I thought this tile was a really good example.  Did it turn out exactly the way I had originally pictured?  No.  Do I like it?  Yes, I’m happy with it.  And one of the things I like best about it is that I can look at this tile and say I learned quite a lot!  I learned about graphite and blue with regards to shading.  I learned that I need to pay closer attention when I’m doing Shattuck – just like Knightsbridge, it’s when you’re doing something ‘easy’ that your brain drifts.  I learned that it might be fun to try Shattuck exactly like that – with all the fans going in the same direction; an idea I wouldn’t have thought of.  And I marvelled yet again that rather than ‘hating’ a tile and being discouraged, I quite enjoyed the ‘oopses’ and the challenge of how to incorporate them into the tile.

As an artist, I try very hard not to point out my mistakes to people.  Often they don’t even notice them, and even if they do, it’s rare that it will be something jarring for them.  It’s my own ego that wants to point them out, as a way of saying – ‘you see, I know this isn’t perfect so you can’t point out my mistake’.  And yes, I’ve had tiles where I couldn’t appreciate the ‘oops’ or I didn’t know what to do with it and couldn’t continue.  That’s when I put it aside and fish it out months (or even years) later with fresh eyes and a little more experience.

As a teacher, I want to point them out to you so that you can experience the same thing in your own work.  It’s okay to make a goof, and you really don’t have to tell anyone.  Eventually, the sense of challenge will arise when something like that happens, and you can honestly enjoy those moments.

And there is no rule that says you have to show any work to anyone else.  This is just for you!

I post my tiles every day as a way of encouraging you to keep trying.  Some are more appealing than others, but don’t let that stop you from creating.  That’s what’s truly important.