A technophile lawyer rediscovers the joys of pen and paper

Saturday, April 14, 2012

You can only read this post if you promise not to laugh: My first Zentangle

It's tough having a fetish for pens and paper yet lacking any artistic talent at all. Seriously. I look at the other pen and paper blogs, and so many of them include nice sketches as part of their pen or ink reviews, or at least nice handwriting. Others write fiction. I can't do any of that.

I've read one book recently about writing, and I've got a few more to go, thinking maybe this will be the year I actually participate in NaNoWriMo in November. ( I modified that to ShoStoWriMo a couple of years ago, and actually got some stuff down on paper, but couldn't come up with much of a story.)

Drawing? Hopeless. Them somehow, I ran across something about Zentangles. (Here's a reminder I am an attorney: "Zentangle" is a registered trademark of Zentangle, Inc.) This is supposed to be art that anyone can create, based on very small, repetitive strokes creating patterns (each pattern in the piece is called a "tangle"), and the process is suppose to help relieve stress. (Believe me when I tell you that stress relief is something I can use.) Zentangle, Inc.'s trademark expression is "Anything is possible one stroke at a time."

Oh, yeah? They never met me.

Anyway, I bought a book on "tangling," the recommended Sakura Pigma Micron pen (oops, wrong tip size), and went to town this afternoon on a blank #12 R by Rhodia premium notepad.

This is what I ended up with after about an hour and a quarter:

First Zentangle
That patio chair backdrop makes for its own nice tangle pattern, It's a shame I didn't draw it.

Maybe it looks better on an oblique?

First Zentangle - Oblique
Leave it to me to put the worst tangle in the foreground!

If you want to go the whole tangling route, I suppose, you buy these Zentangle tiles, which I might get around to eventually, but I figured it would be better to start on notepads for awhile to see if I stick with it before spending money on the tiles, which run about $0.50 each. The No. 12 Rhodia pad, at 3.3 in. x 4.7 in., is about 25% larger than the tiles, which are squares 3.5 in. on a side.

After just one tangling session, I'm not convinced yet this will become a common way for me to relax. But the concentration required in drawing all those little lines sure shuts out the rest of the world, which is exactly what I was looking for.



  1. I think your Zentangle looks great. Like yourself I'm not much of an artist so I should give this a try. Think I might just start with fountain pens and plain paper, or even the Paper app on my iPad.

  2. Hey! Good for you! I think it looks better than you probably think it does :) But most artists (yes, I did just call you an artist - you don't have to be Van Gogh to be an artist!) are very critical of their own work! You picked some nice tools as well which of course makes it way more fun than using something like a crummy ballpoint and terrible paper. Will you keep at it?

  3. You did great! Zentangles were the way that I re-entered the art world. Yes, shutting out the rest of the world is the reason we do it. And if you do some hunting around the 'net, you will find the step-by-step instructions to draw the pattern you see on the patio chair.

    I was going to attempt NaNoWriMo again this year but my job is already piling too many commitments into November. I'll be cheering for you!

  4. Your first attempt is so much better than my first attempt that it's hard to believe it's your first attempt! Congrats and have fun!

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  6. You did a wonderful job - everyone can learn to be an artist - like anything else, you just need to practice.

  7. Nice work man! I saw those in someone's blog before, but never took a stab at it. Kudos for digging in. They look great!

  8. This looks great! The losing track of what's around and finding THE ZONE is the best. Keep working at it. Find music that helps or a setting that puts in the mood... Keep at it and keep sharing :) <3

  9. Great work for a first go.
    After a while I've found that I want to stick to a few favourite patterns and have to actively try out new ones.

    I use a blank Leuchtturm 1917 pocket notebook for mine.

  10. You did great!! My tangles are a mess; I do not practice.

  11. wah...so happy I have come across your blog and in particular this post, because that is just what I was looking for. I have the same "problem" as you. I have become interested in all kinds of pens and stationary recently and would like to use them, but have absolutely no artistic talent in writing nor drawing or whatsoever (sorry English is not my first language). So envious of people who can sketch and draw.


  12. Great job! I just started Zentangle too, and I am really enjoying it.