Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Peace of Art

In viewing the new Zentangle "Betweed" video by Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts, I am reminded once again of how peaceful the Zentangle process is. Watching Maria's hand float across the paper in a rhythmic and deliberate way, I find myself mesmerized by the process itself, not to mention Maria's lovely marks. This is why I love this art form! Thanks Rick and Maria!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Lights Shine

Every October for the past few years, my sister, Cathy Helmers, and I have set up a booth at the Universal Light Expo in Columbus Ohio. In the past years, Cathy sold her beautiful beaded spirit dolls, and I sold my beaded jewelry. As many people who have a creative passion in some kind of medium will tell you, it often evolves or even morphs into a different medium altogether. Always related, as things inherently are, we move into the "next thing" that strikes our fancy.
    Ok, so Zentangle struck our fancy. You knew where I was going, right?
    This year at the Expo, most of what we offer has a Zentangle inspiration behind it. Cathy will still have her beaded spirit dolls, but she has really taken to this meditative art form and has applied it to include dolls, 3d objects, and even fabric that she designs with Zentangle patterns. My friend and fellow CZT, Peg Farmer, and I will be offering mini classes right in the booth, for those new to the art of Zentangle. We will also have Zentangle supplies for sale. A large community Zendala will be available for anyone who wants to add their mark.
   We are excited about our adventure. The ULE is the largest all-volunteer metaphysical expo in the Midwest. The people are wonderful and there is lots to do! If you're in the neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio on October 9 and 10, come visit!!
   Here are a few of the beautiful items that Cathy has created...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Lotsadots Steps

Lotsadots can also be left with the dots unconnected by lines (see yesterday's post). There is something about connecting the dots that is fun (takes me back to my coloring book days...I can almost smell the crayons!), but if you are in the mood for something a little lighter, leave just the dots. After a while, the dots will tell you where they want more dotty friends, so make sure you listen to your tile... 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Playin' with Lotsadots

My fellow CZT, Peg Farmer, came up with a name for the tangle that appears on the edges of this tile. It was inspired by a piece of fabric in my quilting friend, Cathy Jeffers' new quilt. Thanks, girls!!

Monday, September 20, 2010


Daved and I took a little ride to Selma Indiana to visit Oakwood Retreat Center. It's part of a working farm called Rainbow Farm... way in the middle of what seemed like nowhere. Perfect place for a Zentangle weekend retreat. So we are a'dreamin' of what shape that would take. Ideas have floated forth and some have popped away to make room for more ideas. Just the thought of a weekend filled with Zentangle lovers just makes me smile. On a Monday morning, that's a good thing.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Do Si Do

If I tried to plan it, it could never be what it was.

Four people doing the same tangles, with the same string. Kind of a plan, there, but who knew it would bear the beautiful designs that appeared as we lay the tiles on the floor for their final "portrait." As we gathered around them, one of the students noticed the pattern that the four tiles created when they were grouped for their shot. Just as a quilt reveals its new patterns when the blocks are connected, this group had that same quality, as you can see by the photos below.
  We excitedly shifted them around, making new patterns with each moved position. As the tiles did their do-si-do, changing partners and corners and shifting side to side and spinning around, there were people visiting the gallery (where our classes are held) who now really wanted to know, "What is Zentangle?"
    It seemed miraculous that the tiles played together the way they did. It was such a surprise, that I could barely stop staring at our little batch of lovelies. It's not uncommon to have this part of the class be exciting... it's a powerful thing to see each individual's work together, the same, and different, all at once. But something about this group was different and I won't even try to speculate on why. The planets were just lined up and this is what happened. 

The "not planning" of the Zentangle process is, for me, its most enchanting quality. As we clear out and leave behind what we might want to accomplish with a particular tile, we allow room for what can be, and for what is. Yes, the students followed the same "plan", but if I had planned that final portrait design (which I would be really tempted to do next time!), the ENERGY of the surprise and delight would not have had a chance to emerge. And the do-si-do might become just another mechanically danced footstep.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Paradox: a tangle that is full of surprises, and for all of its straight lines, can create quite a dimensional little stir. It's one of my favorites on those days when a straight line with black ink is just what the doctor ordered. This one was started a month or so ago. It sat in my pile of tiles on my desk in the form of scrawny little lines all connected. Not much form or life until tonight, it seemed like a lot of fun to do some coloring in. With a Micron .08, I began coloring in the slivers around the edge to frame it, and ended up liking the middle twists unfilled. It's also great fun to shade this tangle. To learn how to do this tangle, click this link to

I love a paradox in all its forms.

Monday, September 13, 2010


At first this tangle reminded me of pineapple slices. But the more I played with it, the more it felt like a roller coaster. It's fun as the pen coasts up and down, and the tile goes back and forth as the lines are added. Don't go too fast or you'll get a little dizzy :)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Creativity and Inclusivity

Twice a year, downtown Dayton Ohio throws a big street party called Urban Nights. It's a night when some 30,000 walk around downtown and participate in whatever strikes their fancy. Art is everywhere, dance, music, food. Lots of it is organized, lots of it is not. It's wonderful! Since I teach Zentangle classes at one of the galleries (Gallery 510 on Fifth Street), Peg Farmer (my CZT buddy) and I thought it would be fun to do a large community Zentangle out in front of the gallery. Passersby could participate in creating the art, or simply watch. We had no idea what would happen. We were fully prepared to work at encouraging people to make a mark on the 22x28 art paper we had started. What did happen... people stood waiting for their turn to contribute. More than 70 people of all ages added a little tangle or two. Some even came back to add more. What was supposed to start at 5:30 and end at dark (7:30?) went on until 10:30 by the light of the streetlamp. Some folks were fearless, some were shy and needed a little encouragement, and some just wanted to be (lovingly) badgered into making a mark. Some really wanted to, but just didn't. Those usually said no by stating that they were not a creative person and they didn't want to 'mess it up'. Even when they saw that we allowed for anyone and everyone, regardless of their age or skill, they still would not.
    We hear it more often than not: "I'm not a creative person." It seems there are many people who believe they are innately excluded from the 'creative club.' Somehow we all bought into the idea that there even is such a club. And as clubs often do, claim their exclusivity like it's some kind of prize. Exclusivity is not a prize. It excludes. It keeps people out, it makes them feel 'less than.' Once that box is made, it has the potential to shut down the creative process in others, when the whole idea of the 'creative club' was probably started in order to bolster creativity. Doesn't make sense to me.
    What I love about the Zentangle art form is its potential for inclusivity. It doesn't require artistic skill to be enjoyed. It allows for all kinds of brains, personalities, and viewpoints to enjoy the experience at once and together, and each at their own pace. It's an art form that allows a line to go in whatever direction it can, and a circle to be more of an oval, or even turn into a square. Who really cares where those marks go or what they look like, if creativity is simply about allowing an experience to emerge and just be?
   Here are some photos of folks "doing their thing." A big thanks to all the participants, Gallery 510, and Peg and her husband, George who stayed well past the light of day!


Thursday, September 9, 2010


Even though I'm tempted to focus on the hexes that I know will be created in this tangle, it's much more relaxing (and much easier!) to concentrate on each triangle. Trusting that the triangles will come together into a hex is a really fun part of this pattern. I also like the balance between filling the black and making the stripes. Have fun!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

All together now.

I found a frame that held three 3" pieces of art. I went through my tiles to find three that complimented each other. I found some possibilities but they didn't quite flow for me. I added a little dot or "bead" around the edges of each one, which to me, tied them together as a little family. Now they are all living together in one little frame.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Another Moment

"If you are aligned with the moment, the kind of action that you take is qualitatively totally different from the kind of action that you take when you deny or dislike the present moment out of the feeling that you want to get somewhere better than this moment."  --Eckhart Tolle

Friday, September 3, 2010

Allowance and Control

Pick up almost any self help book, whether it's about diet, business, relationships, you will most likely find the concept of control as its central theme. We are urged to "control our own destinies," "be in control of our lives," "take back control!"
    We know what it's like to want to control something, as we all have areas of our lives where it seems appropriate to know what we are dealing with on a day to day basis: Do I have money to pay bills? Does my car work today? Do I have to be somewhere today?
    We have come to accept that it is preferable to control something than not to control it. If something is "out of control", that usually has a negative connotation, and it often feels like the next step is to get the situation "under control."
    When control becomes a habit, it often is a sign that we don't trust our own ability to be in the moment. It's a hard thing to do, being in the moment. The way to truly be in it is to relinquish control. As long as we are acting on the need to control, the concept of allowance (letting the moment be the moment as is) has little room in the situation.
And what does this have to do with Zentangle? For me, lots.
   I was made very aware of this on my 8-hour car trip last weekend. First of all, I really have a hard time with cars and highways. Put me on a plane anyday! It's the very feeling of not being in control that puts me in a tiz. We have a van, so I can stretch out and bring beading and Zentangles, which keeps me from focusing on the highway shenanigans. Yes, it's my way of controlling my situation. It's finding that comfort zone so I can live with what I cannot control. I wish I could be with it a different way, but wishing is not being in the moment, either. It is what it is for now and I have to move forward the best way I can.
   Doing a Zentangle tile in a moving vehicle presents its own exercise in allowance and control. Bumps in the road make for a shaky, quaky line! Well, dang it, now how am I going to make any use of my car time to get anything done? Everything I do for the next 8 hours will not look like what i'm hoping for. Again, hoping is not really in the moment, is it? It's projecting a future situation in our mind, not a situation that is in the present moment. So now I have no control over the highway drive and no control over the pen in my hand. Geesh. Now what?
   Now what? Keep tangling, of course. So that's what I did. I chose to let go of my need to control a pretty tangle. I once again I was reminded that for me, the process of Zentangle is not about not how it LOOKS, but how it FEELS. The feeling of making each mark deliberately, and with my full awareness, is what became the focus of my exercise. As the van jumped and twisted, so did my pen. I could only smile at each mark that went a little haywire.
   I'm just now realizing as I look at the tile, that I probably was feeling a bit like the Crescent Moon all cocooned in the center of the Umble, which look like little highways curling all around me. It reminds me that although there is conditional comfort in control, there is an unconditional joy in moving forward in the midst of having no control.