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!

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!  

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.”

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.

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!

Zentangle tile

If you’re looking for a perfect artist, you’ve come to the wrong place!


NOTE:  This blog entry first appeared on my old website on March 30, 2016 (a month before I became a CZT).  2400 tiles later, it still rings true today. 

There are lots of websites filled with fabulous art by highly qualified and professional artists. I love them, and I visit them regularly for inspiration, ideas, and simply to enjoy seeing what other people create.

But this website is about mucking about, remembering how to have fun, and being fearless in creating, removing the judgement of what is “good art” or “bad art” or whether someone is “better at it”. Because we all deserve to create art regardless of what other people (or we ourselves) think of it. So that means I am going to commit to showing you a variety of work I’m doing – the stuff I’m really proud of and the stuff that didn’t quite work out the way I might have hoped. It’s important that you get to see the warts as well as the roses, because it’s important to know that it’s okay to create work that isn’t perfect.

Artists will tell you this is something they learn to deal with. They will tell you about the Inner Critic who is constantly reminding you that this “isn’t good enough”; that it doesn’t measure up to someone else’s benchmark. One of the great things about Zentangle is that it helps many of us move through this barrier, and once that happens we can look at the work of other people with an objective eye. Instead of bemoaning, “I could never make something that good” we can study it. “How did they achieve that effect? What would happen if I tried that? What would my version look like?” Out of that comes the realization that our work will never look like someone else’s and that’s the whole point. We each have our own style, and that means nobody else’s work will look like ours, either. And that means you actually are an artist!

The tile shown is my very second one, done Jan 12, 2015

Classes in July 2020

Summer has always meant time in the garden, barbecues with family and getting out to enjoy the great outdoors.  Even though we’re restricted more than usual this summer, that doesn’t mean we don’t want to get out there and take advantage of the season.

For that reason, I’m going to be changing my class offerings for July and August. I don’t usually teach over the summer months, but because we can now meet online, I’m happy to continue offering Tangled Tidbits, and Zentangle private and semi-private lessons.

Tangled Tidbits is a small group that meets weekly for an hour (Fridays from 1-2 pm PDT) and we try different ‘tidbits’ of ideas, tangles, and so on.  This class runs on a monthly subscription, so this is a good time to join us for the month of July.  There’s always room for you in this class if you have already taken a Zentangle class with me (Art Bites counts).   You can find more information here, or contact me for details.  Cost is $35CDN/month.

(I’m also open to setting up another Tangled Tidbits for those interested in a different day/time, who are not alumni from my classes, or who want to start up as their own group.  Just let me know!)

Zentangle on Demand is my online version of Zentangle 1-2-3. In short, we can arrange a private lesson, or a small group lesson if you have a friend or two you’d like to tangle with. This option is great for beginners or experienced tanglers alike.

Beginners are welcome!  We’ll start with Zentangle Basics and have you tangling in no time.  And for those looking for follow up classes or individual attention, I’ve amassed a large selection of classes I can teach and you’re welcome to check them all out here.   You’ll need to have the materials (I can help you figure out what you need) and we’ll set a mutually agreeable time and place.  Cost is $40CDN for a private 2-hour lesson, or $30CDN/per person for a 2-1/2 hour class.

If any of these options appeal to you, contact me for more information.

Whether you take a class or not, I hope Zentangle will be part of your summer relaxation plans!

Tangled Tidbits is rocking!

Tangled Tidbits is a monthly series of 1-hour classes in a virtual setting.

This group meets each week online for an hour to try something new, practice a technique, ask a question, or start a tile or challenge together through guided instruction.

The original group has been meeting since June of 2020 and membership is now closed.

I would be pleased to start up a second Tidbits cadre if there are at least three people interested.  These first three people will determine the day and time for the weekly schedule, and the group as a whole gets to decide what to do for each class. The class runs on a monthly subscription and you’ll receive an invoice near the end of the month for the following month; you can renew or stop as you like at the end of each month. (No pro-rating at this price.)

Cost $40CDN/month  – Fridays from 1-2 pm PDT

Contact me to register.  No deposit necessary; I’ll get back to you when we have enough people and we will set the schedule together.

What’s a ZIA?

ZIA is short for  “Zentangle Inspired Art”.  While the Zentangle Method is specific in its philosophy and principles (non-representational, no mistakes, no rulers, keeping it simple), it’s only natural that enthusiasts would find Zentangle-inspired attributes spilling over into other art forms.  It’s a way of stretching the ‘rules’ of Zentangle in ways that retain the original Zentangle intention of being relaxing, enjoyable and mindful, while allowing for flexibility in how to apply the practise.  Many Zentangle practitioners and CZTs explore other forms of art including painting, quilting, card making, sculpting, drawing, collage, found art, pottery, embroidery, glass making…the list goes on.


ZIAs can have any or all of these characteristics:

  • patterns are tangled on something other than a 3.5″ tile – like a coffee cup, greeting card, Christmas ornament, plant pots, stones, fabric, a journal cover…
  • colour can be used, either in the drawing itself, or in embellishment – think sharpies, watercolour, pencil crayons, fabric paint….
  • can be representational – you can take a template/line drawing and tangle inside
  • rulers and/or more complex designs might be employed – mandalas are a beautiful example of this


ZIAs are a fun way to stretch your Zentangle muscles!


“Sunburst” Tangled on Alcohol Ink background

Zentangle on Demand

Here’s a fun way to get some Zentangle® in your life!

Online private and semi-private Zentangle lessons are now available. Choose a class with your friends, or arrange some quiet one-on-one instruction just for you. Online lessons and classes are taught via Zoom, and materials are not included. Most can be taken with the materials you already have at home; for others, we can discuss the materials you would like to use.

• Individual (2-hr private lesson ) – $40CDN
• 2 or more people (2-1/2hr lesson) – $30CDN/per person
Contact me to book a lesson

Here are some ideas – or ask for a custom lesson and we’ll see what we can do.:

Classes with no special materials required (just pen, pencil and paper)
• Zentangle Basics (your first stop for all things Zentangle)
• Zentangle Revisited (refresher for those who have the Basics)
• Beyond the Basics (refining your skills, more tangles)
• Level Up: Tangles and More (enhancers, tangleations)
• Shady Practise (get a handle on shading techniques)
• String Theory (how to create and use zillions of strings)
• Reticula & Fragments (the meat and bones of tangling)
• Pop-Up Tutorials (focus on just one tangle and make it yours
• Dynamic Dingbatz (tangling in closed dingbat format)

Classes requiring special materials (what you have on hand or want to order):

  • Octopus’ Garden – (requires black Opus tile, moonlight gelly rolls, white chalk pencil)
  • Rock Cairns – (requires Tombow Dual Brush pens or watercolour pencil)
  • TransZENding technique – (requires white gelly roll and white chalk pencil
  • Watercolour backgrounds – (requires watercolours)
  • Tangling on Fabric – (requires fabric, and special markers)
  • Impossible 3D Tiles – (requires scissors, glue: coloured paper/pens is an option)
  • Zen Buttons – (requires compass or other ability to trace circles; colour is an option)
  • Zen Gems – (requires coloured pencils or brush markers)
  • Black Magic – (black paper, white/coloured pens, white/coloured pencil)
  • Renaissance Treasures – (tan paper, brown/coloured pens, white/coloured pencil
  • Zentangle Blue Steel – (grey paper, white/coloured pens, white/coloured pen)
  • Zendala Discoveries – (5” round tiles – or trace a CD), white or coloured paper
  • 3Z Mosaics – (triangles roughly 3” equal sides), white or coloured paper

Some of these materials are available to order from me or directly from