Z for Zentangles


I love zentangles!

What are zentangles?

Zentangles are a method of drawing structured, repetitive patterns. Repetitive = relaxation and focus. I find it’s a good way to clear my head. When you look at a zentangle for the first time, it looks complicated. The whole idea behind zentangles is that you can do anything, but one step at a time. You focus on the patterns, not your preconceived idea of what the final result should be. Without an expectation in mind, it is easier to make mistakes.

I HATE making mistakes! It stops me from trying a lot of new things because I want to do everything perfectly the first time.

When I was younger, I fancied myself an artist. I never went a day without doodling something. As I got older, that all changed. I stopped drawing and it wasn’t until recently I realized why I stopped. It was my fear of mistakes.

Well who likes making mistakes right? No one. I let my fear of making mistakes stop me from doing something I enjoyed. Drawing suddenly became something stressful so I started avoiding it. This became a trend. I let the fear of making mistakes stop me from doing a lot of things….my fears started to affect my work, my relationships and my well-being. Something had to change.

Mistakes are part of life, they are unavoidable and the sooner you accept that, the better. The key to living through mistakes is to not let the situation get out of control. You can make A LOT of mistakes before you lose control. I found this kind of comforting. So, I decided to start small. Applying this thinking to drawing makes it seem silly to have stopped. Being creative is allowing yourself to make mistakes. It is the mistakes that make your work unique.

I’ve been doing zentangles for a while now. It has made it easier to start doodling again. I’m hoping to apply this to the rest of life. I think breaking things into smaller steps will make tasks seem less overwhelming and not being so rigid about the outcome will keep me from being disappointed and hating myself when I do make mistakes.

Here’s how to do a zentangle:

  1. Start with a blank piece of paper. Traditional zentangles are 3.5″ by 3.5″. You can do whole pages if you want, but the small size is much less intimidating.
  2. Make four dots, one in each corner of the paper.
  3. Connect the dots using straight lines, wavy lines or create a shape.
  4. Draw lines through your outline. This creates sections.
  5. Choose a tangle to fill in a section. There are so many to choose from. I use this site as my tangle pattern library: http://tanglepatterns.com/tag/zentangle They show you a pattern and the step-by-step instructions to draw it for yourself.
  6. Use a different tangle in each section.


27 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Hayley
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 09:19:36

    Wow, I’m going to have to try making one of them! It looks so relaxing =)


  2. inanunquietmind
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 10:49:50

    Your tangles are beautiful! I hope to be able to create that well one day.

    I relate to your post so well. I only recently found Zentangle and just started but I love getting lost in it and forgetting about the stresses of life for awhile.

    Thanks for sharing your work. Its beautiful and you are very inspiring! 🙂


    • somberscribbler
      May 02, 2014 @ 17:25:14

      Thanks for stopping by and checking out my stuff. It’s great to meet another zentangler! What I love most about it are the instructions. It makes it so easy and takes all the stress away 🙂


  3. nembow
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 12:33:21

    Beautiful! I first heard of zentangles a little while ago and thought it would be something I’d like to have a go at. Now I’m convinced.


  4. Gretchen Joy
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 13:15:50

    Oh my goodness, I wish I could draw like you!!!!! Seriously, all of it is so beautiful and eye-catching!


    • somberscribbler
      May 02, 2014 @ 17:27:48

      You can do these just as well as I can. Each design has its own set of instructions starting from simple shapes. They look complicated, but they really aren’t. I highly recommend giving it a try!


  5. Natalie Zaman
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 13:54:27

    Just lovely! Your drawings are amazing. Art = happiness ♥


  6. Birgit
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 17:48:35

    My husband is an artist and he works in wood-burns the images in and your work reminds me of his and i did not know it was called this. Your work is wonderful!! The one with the connecting hearts is quite amazing as one has to be so precise. You are an artist!!! So much detail and so intricate. My hubby is also a perfectionist and when he draws, it calms his mind as he has severe classic ADHD. Great ending to your posts which were very thoughtful and real. Thank you for sharing and letting us read them:)


    • somberscribbler
      May 02, 2014 @ 17:30:25

      Thank you for stopping by throughout the challenge. I’ve really enjoyed your comments. I hope you’ll keep coming back 🙂
      Your husband’s craft sounds wonderful. I’d love to learn how to do these designs on wood!


  7. sfashary
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 19:08:25

    I used to doodle all the time. It wasn’t anything spectacular but it was always a pattern of some sort. I did it during meetings because it helped me focus, during class in college and so on. I know exactly what you mean about fear of mistakes. I still feel the same way about drawing @-@ I love it so much but the idea of not getting right the first time around is indeed stressful and frustrating but I had to force myself to accept it. I still am afraid of failing and afraid of making mistakes but at some point we all are, it’s human of us.

    Mistakes just offer a new view point when you try again. They help you grow and teach you more about yourself.

    Great post as always!


  8. RZT
    May 01, 2014 @ 06:22:58

    I have not heard of zentangles before, but the overall effect is really great, I am really impressed.

    Congratulations on completing the A to Z , I will be following your blog for a while now so all the very best for the future . . . . .


  9. somberscribbler
    May 02, 2014 @ 17:53:24

    I’m glad you learned something new from this post! Thanks for all your comments throughout A to Z. I’ve enjoyed them. 🙂


  10. Martha B
    May 03, 2014 @ 23:52:44

    Thanks for sharing all your awesome tangles. I was always afraid to create anything too because I didn’t want to make mistakes. Zentangle showed me how simple it can be to create awesome works of art if you’re willing to put in the time. From there I grew the courage to start dabbling in other stuff, and it’s been so fun ever since. Really nice post!


  11. Stephanie Scott
    May 05, 2014 @ 11:16:59

    Apparently I do this and never knew the name for it! My doodling are always patterns.


  12. Trackback: Ticking off: Zentangles | Calm Kitchen
  13. eternallysmiling
    Jul 07, 2014 @ 10:11:09

    This is brilliant, I have the same perfectionist streak & it often holds me back from getting creative. Great post, definitely going to try this 🙂 your drawings are fab!


  14. gratefulgill
    Jul 20, 2014 @ 09:39:21

    Reblogged this on gratefulgill and commented:
    Perfect mental therapy. I love this idea. When I am freaking out, walking in circles, I will Zentangle!


  15. Deborah
    Feb 19, 2015 @ 09:05:27

    I was wandering around and came upon this post again (liked it the first time around), so now I’ll comment. Isn’t Zentangle wonderful! I find it so relaxing, so full of calming influence. I need to get my supplies more readily available and get back at it as a form of meditation and relaxation. I’m glad I happened upon this today. 🙂


    • somberscribbler
      Feb 19, 2015 @ 13:39:37

      Zentangle is wonderful. I think i meed to make a travel kit so i can do it while commuting or on a break when things get intense at work.
      Thank you for commenting 🙂


      • Deborah
        Feb 19, 2015 @ 19:42:24

        I think that makes sense. There are times during the day when it would be very helpful to bring things down a notch. 🙂

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