Mistakes, there are no mistakes in Zentangle
Mistakes – hah! They obviously haven’t seen me work. That was my instant thought when I heard the instructor in my first class. No mistakes you say, now that is daunting, I’m not even an artist, of course I’m going to make mistakes and likely lots of mistakes. I mean talk about pressure, whew!
What I learned is that Zentangle is an intuitive or spontaneous, creative experience. If you ‘think’ you’ve made a mistake, simply make more of them until you create a totally new pattern. Let it lead you to something unexpected. Be bold, it’s only pen and paper.
While exploring ‘outsider’ art (more on that later) I learned about a very liberating concept. It’s important to give yourself permission to make ugly art. Yes, that’s right, really ugly art, because it often leads to exciting and surprising results once you let go of the notion of creating something beautiful.
Who knows, you might just create a masterpiece in the process and develop a brand new technique and earn money in your sleep. Allow yourself the creative freedom even if it’s only once and a while and see what happens. In case it’s not obvious, I like taking the unknown path; I revel in the exciting and unusual and I love surprises.
Now, if all that just seems like way too much, consider getting a blank book. Moleskins are my favourites; I really like the 3×5, as they’re so easy to pack around. Consider it your Zentangle ‘field notebook’. Use it to explore ideas, patterns, combinations, and tangle variations. You’ll find these books become fabulous reference tools you’ll return to over and over again. They have a graph paper one that’s perfect for getting the proportions just so or practicing linear patterns while the blank ones are great for the squiggly, curlicue style tangles.
One of my other favourite Zentangle tools is a mechanical pencil as the point is always sharp. Treat yourself to a couple of them with different coloured barrels so you can have 2b and 2hb leads handy at all times.
Of course, then you’ll need one of those fabulous Tombow erasers. Gasp! An eraser? I know, it says in the literature erasers are not needed or for that matter allowed but it’s an eraser shaped like a mechanical pencil that can get into tiny little places and helps to fine tune your shading or perfect a new tangle pattern or string.
As a perfectionist, an eraser is in my Zentangle kit. What it really comes down to is having fun and making art, so use what you’re comfortable with, that’s all I’m saying. Tools need to have a practical purpose and feel good in your hands while using them. That’s one of my guiding principles, and if they’re cute and colourful all the better.
As for pens, can a person have too many pens? Of course not! The trouble is, if you have lots you’ve got to get organized so you can find the one you’re looking for. Who wants to waste time hunting when the creative urge strikes?
Sakura makes wonderful pens; the Micron 01, 05, 08 are great standards to have in your collection but don’t forget to check out the chisel and brush tip varieties as well. Traditionally, Zentangle is a black and white thing but it’s pretty obvious to me, everyone loves colour so fill that cup with all your favourites while you’re at it.
Just be careful when choosing browns, be sure to check what you’re getting. Evidently there was a bit of a translation issue when Sakura created their sepia and brown pens. Using the brown pen creates the gorgeous tan Zentangle tiles we’ve all fallen in love with. While the sepia pen is a yummy chocolate brown colour that has a lovely old world look to it. For more details on white pens see the attached list created by www.jetpens.com