Tag Archives: zentangle

Why don’t you teach a class on this?

Originally posted as “Choosing a Class” on Nov 14, 2018

“This is cool; why don’t you teach a class on this?”

There are so many great ideas out there, and so many people interested!  The trick is mixing and matching it just right; selecting classes where there is enough interest, the right timing, and the perfect balance of fun, relaxing, simple and inexpensive. 

So how does something go from a great idea to a class? Let’s walk through an example of an upcoming class.

Holiday Party Crackers Class coming December 4th to the McMillan Arts centre.

THE INSPIRATION 

  1.  See a cool idea – hey, what about tangling those crackers you get at family holiday dinners?
  2. Do some research. Can you make them yourself? Are there resources to buy the materials? Is it hard or expensive to do? 
  3. Try it out for myself. I made several crackers of different kinds, and experimented with different tangles to use. Once I did that, I evaluated:
  4. Was it fun to do? Did it take a ton of time?
  5. Would it be fairly simple for students to do? (what’s the skill level required?)
  6. Did it take a lot of materials?
  7. Was it ‘zen’ enough for me? (a mindful exercise, not stressful)
  8. What is the Zentangle spin on this – does it present a technique or tip that would be useful in other tangling?
  9. Is this something you could do again after taking the class?
  10. Can you take this and do different things with it? (other tangles, other applications) – is there room to have fun with the idea?
  11. Can it be taught in 3 hours? (or is it a longer-term project?)
  12. Would this appeal to enough people?
  13. Then I did a little more research:
  14. Are there other examples I can study? Who else has done them – any photos I can look at?
  15. Are there other ways can this be done? Could you do simpler/more elaborate/different twists?
  16. What tangles could I use to teach this? (I like to have a number of possibilities)
  17. Is there a kit or lesson plan I can buy or ask to share?  I always ask permission before teaching someone else’s class idea. (In this case there wasn’t; I was free to create my own.)
  18. What’s the focus or angle I want to take in teaching the class?

THE CRITERION

Every CZT has their own criteria and their own preference for teaching classes.   My current preference is for classes that:

  • are accessible for all levels of skill (Zentangle Basics the only prerequisite)
  • can be taught within my framework of  $40 for 3 hours, with materials extra (in this case I added some materials to be included because it was a special class)
  • fit within my own schedule and that of the place I’m teaching
  • are either Basics, or FUNdamental (further Zentangle skills) or ZIA (Zentangle Inspired Art)

THE SCHEDULING

So now I’ve chosen a class to add to my calendar.  What now?

  1. Choose the name of the class. In this case it was my own lesson; if I’m using someone else’s lesson plan (with their permission of course), I may call the class by that name.
  2. I usually set up classes by season, starting with a Basics class, then a follow up (fundamentals) style class (like shading) and a ZIA (Zentangle Inspired Art) class for cool projects.
  3. Are there holidays in the season that would fit well with the class? In this case, December is a good time, but before Thanksgiving would have worked for an autumn themed party cracker.
  4. Are there other offerings like Tangle Island or another CZT in that season?  I would try to keep the date from competing with these offerings.
  5. Would enough interested people be able to fit this into their schedule?

THE PREPARATION

  1. I create prototypes for the class. I make lots of examples and choose the ones that are going to be the samples on the flyers, online registration, website, etc. I need the image before I can announce the class because people will want to know what the project/class sample will look like.
  2. Get the word out. I usually start about 3 months before the class and announce on my website, flyers, Facebook, online registrations, etc. I like to plan classes by season which means I need to know all 3 class offerings at this stage before I proceed.
  3. Make a list of class materials. It needs to be affordable and easy to find. I also make sure I have a set of materials for people to borrow if they can’t find what they need. (In this class, I also needed to purchase special materials to include; things that aren’t readily available for purchase.)
  4. Write out the lesson plan. Even if there is a prepared lesson plan, I like to actually walk through it as if I were teaching it. I make notes of what to include or change in the lesson – or what to remember to say. I customize it to my students and my teaching style and what I want to emphasize about Zentangle in these classes. And sometimes (as in this case) I create the lesson from scratch.
  5. Prepare packages and teaching materials. A couple of weeks before the class I go through everything again, make any last minute adjustments and prepare any class materials and assemble teaching equipment and materials. This gives me time to make sure I’ve got everything we need for the class and all arrangements are made.

Once I teach the class (and assuming it’s successful) it will usually go into my roster of classes available for private or semi-private lessons, and classes I will teach again in the future.  The exception would be if the class materials are of a limited variety – a one-time thing.

There’s always something new to tempt me to teach a fun new class.  At the moment I have at least 45 class possibilities in my ‘class ideas’ folder, some of which require more research and experimentation.  My 2021 Fall class schedule includes a Basics Class (September 4th), a class I’m teaching with permission (Rock Cairns October 2nd), a class I developed myself (Octopus’ Garden November 6th) as well as this Holiday Party Crackers class.

With every new idea winging by, I take a look, decide whether to bump a ‘future class idea’ or just put it in my folder for eventual use.  That’s why I like to be cagey and say I haven’t decided on the next round of classes. Some ideas include Stained Glass Windows, Parksville Sand Dollars, Shading, Zen Buttons….

Do you have an idea for a class? Share it with me!

Holiday Party Crackers, Zentangle Style – Saturday, December 4, 2021

Saturday, December 4th from 9:00am-12:00 pm PST

Cost  $40  (some materials included) – only 6 spaces available

Register online

Location: McMillan Arts Centre, 133 McMillan Street, Parksville

Have you ever made your own party crackers? We’ll tangle a holiday-themed wrapper for your party cracker. Yes, the materials 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!

Zentangle Basics/Art Bites Zentangle is a prerequisite for this class.

Please note:  only 6 kits available for this class; each kit makes 4 crackers

Materials kit includes:

  • Cracker snaps
  • Cracker template
  • Cracker tangling paper
  • Ribbon
  • Tissue party hat 
  • Jokes/fortunes to put inside

You’ll also need:

  • Toys/treats to put inside the cracker(s)
  • Your usual tangling/crafting supplies
  • Gelly roll pens or similar (some will be available to borrow)
  • Scissors and/or X-acto knife
  • Tape
  • Feel free to add your own bling, stickers, personalized items, etc.

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.”