A Tango with Tangles, Zentangle® Inspired Art and How I Got into this Mess

I think it was a few years ago when I first decided to do Zentangle® Art.  For the life of me, I can’t even remember where I first heard of it.  I have always loved art.  Not just a little, but looooooooved.  Deep inside, I know there is an artist waiting to awaken.  Odd, isn’t it – to think something like that even though you’ve never learned how.  Perhaps that is the fire that burns inside all of us, begging us to try something new.  What ever it is, I like it 🙂


The main reason I decided to do this type of art is that – I am incredibly busy.  The idea of pulling out paints and setting things up just scares me.  I can see it now: I would set everything up and then I would be pulled away by something else.  Now, the kids have set their junk on top of the paper and it is all messed up.  My youngest will wonder what it looks like if he squeezes just enough toothpaste on the canvas.  One kid will decide to use my pens and paint his face.  Another will decide to color on the walls.  Truthfully, these ideas are not that far from the truth.


I still remember the time I would buy dental floss.  The kids thought it was cool to walk along with strands of it sticking from their teeth.  They would love the minty taste, but sadly they never realized you only need a little.  Later on, I would walk around the house only to have one stuck to my sock.  After a while, I would realize I had my own dental floss parade dragging behind me.  And no, I am not kidding.  It was a daily thing in this house.  This is what you get when you have a house-full of kids with ADHD, natural curiosity and time on their hands because they are homeschooled 🙂  I am seriously afraid to buy floss that way and my dentist is puzzled why I use those flossers instead.  She says just tell the kids to stop playing with it.  Yep, tried that – it didn’t even work for half a minute.


Besides not having a lot to set up, the other fabulous thing about Zentangle® Art is that you can actually do it for a few minutes at a time and then stop until later.  It does not require a lot of time commitment and the designs easily allow you to just pick up where you left off.  Think about that compared to completing a drawing or a painting.  It is pretty amazing to think you can actually just put it away and start again the next time you are free.  So yes, definitely time is a huge plus!


The other main reason I wanted to start doing this type of art is that my life tends to have a lot of stress.  Whose doesn’t?  Homeschooling is not an easy endeavor.  I have four kids – two of which need all my attention doing their schoolwork.  The other two only need me when they need help.  One, is struggling with Algebra this year, so I am working with her an hour a day.  The oldest is taking a computer course and is also struggling.  We have finally made progress, I might add (a silent yay rises from the crowd).  I have had to go through all of her lessons to understand what she is doing in order to help her.  That has taken an incredible amount of time.  Besides all that, add in laundry detail, cooking, dishes, cleaning and you get my point.  Some days I might be able to set aside some time and other days, not so much.  It is nice to have something to lean on when you need it, but also something you can put away if you just don’t have time.


On last thing – and perhaps another amazing aspect of this type of art, is you cannot make a mistake.  I have tried to draw.  I have tried to paint.  I remember the piles of paper being thrown by the wayside.  With Zentangle art, you will sometimes make “mistakes” which actually can be woven into your pattern.  They are easily unseen.  And more often than not – your mistakes actually make the Zentangle look better. This is not an “I am a perfectionist” task.  While you can go ahead and be a perfectionist, you will realize that this type of artwork is incredibly forgiving… and perhaps that is why I have stuck with it all this time.  Yes, you have me pegged correctly – I am a perfectionist (sigh).


So, the main plusses for me are:

  1. Does not require a lot of expensive equipment
  2. Does not require any special setup (you can do it anywhere) and it is extremely portable
  3. Does not require a lot of hands-on time.  You can put as much time into it as you please.
  4. It is excellent for improving focus, relaxation, and dealing with stress.
  5. It allows you to make mistakes – and improve upon them.


Where do you start?

  1. Usually, people use a Micron pen.  I bought a set that has different sizes.  After that, you will figure out which sizes you like the most.  You can buy them online as well as in craft stores.
  2. Another pen option is to use Sharpie pens (not the larger permanent marker).  If you ever use a Micron pen though, you will know what it is preferred.  That being said, you can still do a lot with a Sharpie pen and they are available even in grocery stores.
  3. We have used both the Sharpie pens and the Sharpie permanent markers on canvas as well as much thicker paper.  Trust me, it is not the same as a Micron pen (the details you can do with that is amazing) however, you can do A LOT with just a sharpie marker and pen… and it is a lot cheaper.  Besides, you can start out small and move up to more expensive stuff if you find out you like it.
  4. For paper – there are special papers/cards you can use, but we also just use art journals.  With the Sharpie pens and using the larger Sharpie permanent marker, it will bleed through.  My daughter often uses these (because they are cheaper) and realizes that it will bleed through to the next page.  You could also put a barrier behind the page so that it does not bleed through (even a piece of construction paper should help).  I have also bought cardstock and cut it into sizes I needed (which is a cheaper solution).  It all depends on you.  Later on down the road, you may be more serious about it and want to invest in quality materials.  For the kids and myself, we are starting with the cheaper materials.
  5. Another fun way to use Zentangle® Art is to use gel pens on black paper.  This produces really beautiful results as well.
  6. The kids and I have taught classes to senior citizens at the nursing home.  We were afraid to have them exposed to Sharpie pens (the smell) so we just bought a large pack of Crayola thin markers.  While they are definitely harder to use because they just don’t have that fine line like the regular pens – for kids and older people, they are a wonderful alternative.  In that case, we just used cardstock.
  7. Where do you get your ideas?  There are many ideas both online and in book form.  I truly love the following sites:


Tangle Patterns

There are so many sites, it would be hard to share them all.  Just do a search and you will see what I mean.  There are also just as many bloggers who share their ideas as well as books available.  I seriously need to have a book in front of me.  The best for starters (at least in my opinion) are

Joy of Zentangle

The Beauty of Zentangle

Totally Tangled

and all of the books by Suzanne McNeill (Zentangle Basics, up to Zentangle 11) depending on what you are interested in.  Especially the first books are incredibly useful.


Now, the Art…

Mind you, I am not an artist.   I wouldn’t have even bothered to pick up the pen or paint had it not been for Zentangles®.  So, it is definitely inspiring.  I will share a bit of what I have made to give you an idea of the artform.  I am definitely not as good as many, but truthfully I look at my work and am incredibly satisfied (okay, even impressed) with what I can do…





I have also turned these in to excellent, personalized gifts (my favorite part):


Make a Difference




Anyway, there was a little interest last time after I posted some of my designs and I thought it only right that I share what information I can about this fabulous hobby.  I hope that you get a chance to delve into it as I have, and find it a great way to deal with stresses or just to help yourself wind down.


(c) Sumyanna 2017


17 Comments Add yours

  1. My friend introduced me to Zentangle and I’ve done some, but then drifted away. I love your designs. Very nice!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sumyanna says:

      Thank you very much. I truthfully need to do more, but with summer here I am more often running around outdoors. I miss doing them, they are incredibly relaxing.


  2. leigha66 says:

    I just spent about a half an hour on the Tangles site… very interesting! Going to have to look into getting a beginner book. Do they have them at craft stores? Since they are done in tiles they would work good with my homemade cards I make. You have some very beautiful designs here!


    1. Sumyanna says:

      So glad you like it. I have loved it since I started (it is going on two years now). I don’t tangle every day or every week, just because I am incredibly busy but when I really need it – I take it out to relax and unwind. Sometimes I just need a little more quiet in my life. It helps. I highly recommend:


      That’s where I got started, but I also loved the book:


      I’m not being paid to advertise by the way, I just really enjoy the art form. I bought many many books over the years, but the basics one (and that series goes up to #11) is one of the best. They have at the back of the book about 20 design samples so you can get started tangling. I also found those books in our local craft stores (Michaels and Hobby Lobby). I’m not sure which ones you have around you.

      Speaking of cards, my girls got together and each year they make boxes of cards with zentangles. We also use stamps on them. We give them as gifts around the holidays (or whenever we decide to make someone smile) and we also take them up to the nursing home and give them as gifts. They really do work well together. Thank you very much! I hope you enjoy it as much as I have Leigha!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. leigha66 says:

        THANK YOU for all the information. Maybe you should see about becoming a Zentangle teacher? I looked at the list of teachers in the area and the nearest one is about 20 miles away… not too far. I will have to check Hobby Lobby for the books. Thanks again Sumyanna!


        1. Sumyanna says:

          So glad you found it helpful. I might someday – but right now, things are too busy and I must always leave room for my first love (writing) 🙂 Hope you do find it a relaxing passtime. I have thoroughly enjoyed myself!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I find them fascinating and pretty. Takes the mind on a journey of sorts. For me anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sumyanna says:

      So true. You should see what some people are able to create. Just fabulous! I enjoy that I am able to do something and it really does turn out pretty well for someone with little artistic confidence. It is incredibly relaxing as well.


      1. I get the relaxing, and it is art too, the way you make it come together to form “Something tanga blemishes brilliant of itself. I think it’s wonderful

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Sumyanna says:

          So true thank you


          1. I really really miss painting and drawing….it filled a part of my soul…what more can I say.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Sumyanna says:

            Is there any way you could continue in some way? I’ve heard of many artists moving on to other ways of expression of providing at when they had sight problems. Any way to provide a larger canvas?


          3. Not sure. It’s definitely something to consider.

            Liked by 1 person

          4. Sumyanna says:

            Don’t stop trying to find a way. As May artists have known, it is incredibly difficult to wait that desire. Many, many people who were famous artists had to change their method as they faced challenge similar to yours. Sometimes even learning a completely different way to create.


          5. I’m sure if I painted it would be the same, it just that I have no depth perception now and things are scewed. Anyway, it’ll work out I’m sure. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          6. thank you, Sumyanna

            Liked by 1 person

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