I was going through my old tiles the other day, looking for examples of shading for an upcoming shading class and several old tiles caught my eye.  There was something about these tiles that called to be revisited, so I put them aside and began to play.  I was curious to see what would happen if I used exactly the same string and tangles as I did the first time, but let myself draw the tile in the way I would now.  It was so interesting!  

Take a look – here’s the first set:

        Z26 done February 5, 2015

           Z969 done April 6, 2017


Right away I noticed the difference between using the Strathmore tile I used the first time, and a Zentangle tile the second.  The look is softer and the tile blended a lot more easily.  Then I could see that shading skills themselves had changed, my fine motor control was more developed, and my attempts at dew drops were more convincing the second time around.  Don’t get me wrong; I was happy with that first tile and looking at it now, I still like what I did.  I can just see the difference between the two.  For the most part, it was simply doing one Zentangle a day.  One was done in Feb or 2017 and the the other drawn 26 months later, but more significantly – 943 tiles were drawn in between!  If I ever wondered whether simply putting in the drawing time made a difference, this proved it to me without a doubt! 

Here’s the second set:

Left tile: Zentangle #240-2015Sep 3          Right tile: A971-2017Apr6       Both used the same string (#171 from tanglepatterns.com)

     Z971-2017Apr6 (with colour added)

Now I can’t really say that I like the first version.  I was frustrated with the combination of patterns and felt that the background was way too busy for the four sections on top.  I was teaching myself Donald Wilka’s “Opsess” (the background) and Shawn Hayden’s “Mr. E” just got lost.  What to do for the redux?  I tried making the background tangle pattern larger and filling in less of it and that helped. I also changed the direction of the auras in Mr. E and that calmed down the foreground a little. Some strategic shading also helped, but it was still too busy for me.  So I tried adding a bit of colour:

There were 731 tiles between these two and again, the practise of one Zentangle a day did make a difference.  Did the colour help?  Maybe.

The thing I liked best about this exercise was it wasn’t about right or wrong or being discouraged about any of my attempts.  I was able to get past the judgement we put ourselves through and actually analyse and study these tiles.  What worked?  What didn’t?  What would I do differently this time?  Next time?  I think I owe it to myself to revisit these same tiles 2 years and another 700-900 tiles later and see what happens next.  Don’t you agree?