Combining present-moment awareness with simple drawing techniques, Zentangle can make an artist out of anyone.
Most people don’t know what the Zentangle Method is, says certified Zentangle teacher Mary Schutz of Ocean Isle Beach. “It’s structured, patterned drawing, one pen stroke at a time, and it’s based on six strokes.” She draws them: ( ) . – S O
“If you can write any of those, you can do Zentangle,” she says.
Diane Jonas of Supply and Sandie McClellan of Holden Beach are also CZT, certified zentangle teachers. “Patterns are based on those strokes,” Jonas says. “If you take the time to slow down, anybody can do Zentangle.”
“There are no mistakes,” McClellan says. “There are no Zentangle police.”
These three women teach Zentangle classes at various locations, including Spiritquest Healing Center in Ocean Isle Beach, Hearts & Sol Wellness in Oak Island, Leland Cultural Arts Center in Leland and Scrapbooks by the Sea in Myrtle Beach.
Maria Thomas, a calligrapher, and Rick Roberts, a meditation expert, are the Massachusetts couple who coined the word Zentangle, with Thomas developing its method of drawing. The art form has mushroomed into global recognition and revolves around the copyrighted sentence, “Anything is possible one stroke at a time.”
Although people can choose whatever pencils, pens and paper they want, the founders recommend a sturdy square piece called a tile made of 100 percent cotton by the Italian company Fabriano Paper Mills. The pens are Sakura Pigma Micron pens, the pencils are specials from Zentangle, Inc., and a tortillon, a blending tool for shading, helps to give finishing touches. Many zentangle drawings are black and white, but color has become popular. Kits are available at some local craft stores.
“Zentangle is a piece of art,” Schutz says. “You’re not just doodling. You’re doing something artistic.”
Schutz was a telecommunications supervisor and project manager with Verizon in Maryland when she watched a woman demonstrate Zentangle at a health fair. Schutz’s hobby was painting water colors, but she had never heard of Zentangle or seen it. “I was fascinated,” she says. She took a class from the woman in 2010 but wanted to learn more, so she went to Providence, Rhode Island, in 2013 and became certified in teaching the art. She says that the simple drawings help people relax and turn off the rest of the world. “You focus in on what you’re doing and not let your mind be cluttered with everything else,” she says.
Nancy Freyberg of Leland took Schutz’s class at Leland Cultural Arts Center a year ago when she read in its handout that Zentangle is “Zen for the mind.” She told herself, “I could sure use this.” At the same time with tongue in cheek, she says, “I failed art when I was in the third grade.”
She signed up for the class anyway and is now a fan. “It was wonderful,” Freyberg says. “I had so much fun that I invited friends, and we had a Zentangle party at my house.”
Jonas and McClellan met at a yoga class in Holden Beach and both knew about Zentangle. McClellan discovered Zentangle in 2009 when she was teaching elementary school in High Point and researched ways to help students concentrate. “I shared some with the children, but I became absorbed,” she says.
Jonas was visiting a friend in Dallas in 2015 when her friend received a Zentangle as a birthday gift. Jonas took a picture of the art work but didn’t investigate Zentangle until a year later. When she retired as a bookkeeper in 2016, she suggested she and McClellan become CZT. They went to Providence in 2017.
Jonas is also a yoga instructor and says Zentangle has a similar philosophy. “Zentangle requires you to be focused on what you’re doing at that moment, and you just let everything else go,” she says. “Even though the strokes are simple, you slow down.”
Lisa Len of Southport read about Zentangle three years ago. At its website she learned there are local CZT teachers and took a class at Hearts & Sol. “I’ve never been good at drawing, but with Zentangle you realize that it’s one little line at a time,” she says. “You don’t have to be artistic at all.”
She would like to become a CZT, but she’s involved in quilting. “I’ve done Zentangle in a quilt,” she says. She drew a design on a piece of fabric first then was able to begin the process on a quilt. “You get totally engrossed in it, and it takes your mind off everything else. It’s a great stress reliever.”
Freyberg says Zentangle is something that could make anyone feel good about their abilities. “I couldn’t believe I created something so beautiful,” she says. “It calms you down and gives you a purpose.”