When we planned to move to India, I had this secret hope that I would discover my inner artist, and begin to create beautiful paintings or mosaics or sculptures or something. Having never before demonstrated any kind of artistic talent, I couldn’t really imagine the form it would take, but I hoped it would take form. And then we arrived with all of the chaos of adjustment. I colored in my coloring books and greatly enjoyed paint by numbers, but I was a little scared of my watercolor paints, and I couldn’t find any art classes that weren’t a 90 minute drive away from our home in far northern Bangalore. I started making peace with my lack of artistic expression (which was really making peace with my own lack of initiative) and looked for other places to put my energy. Then I found Zentangle.
If you’re not familiar with Zentangle, it’s a kind of structured, meditative doodling. It was developed by Rick and Maria Thomas. Maria was an artist, and Rick, who had practiced meditation for many years, noticed that Maria went into a meditative state when creating some of her detailed images. They realized this was something they could share with people who longed for both creativity and peace. That’s me.
When I was invited to my first Zentangle class at my friend Meredith’s house back in December, I was interested in the idea of something creative, but I was more compelled by the chance to hang out with a bunch of interesting women for a couple hours. While I thoroughly enjoyed the chatting, I was actually hooked by the Zentangling by the end of the class. I loved learning to make these tiny little patterns, and how to personalize them within the structure. At the first class, we used Christmas trees as the shape to fill since it was December.
At the next class, we learned how to create our own shapes to fill, drawing random lines (called “strings”) onto a small card and then filling in the spaces. I began doing it all the time at home, sometimes focused in the silence, and sometimes while watching TV or listening to an audiobook. I even Zentangle when I’m out and about, carrying my special pens and a couple colored pencils in my purse most of the time, so if I find myself waiting semi-patiently for something, I can pass the time with a quick Zentangle.
When I wanted a new challenge, I sketched a landscape (loosely based on a photo of the view from Tom’s family home on Hood Canal) and Zentangled that.
I haven’t discovered an inner artistic genius , but I have discovered a love of color and line, and a kind of satisfaction from making something all my own. More than that, I’ve found a great way to settle myself down in moments when I might otherwise be agitated or anxious. I heartily recommend Zentangle for anyone looking for a new hobby/relaxation technique that just might expand your own sense of creativity.