Three years ago I picked up a book called “One Zentangle a Day” by Beckah Krahula and started a simple practice that would end up changing my life.

It was so simple, really.  Start with a few dots and lines in pencil, then pick up the pen.  Draw a half-circle here, some echo lines there.  It was easy.  It was fun.  Most of all, it was relaxing.  Before I knew it, I had completed my first Zentangle square and I was pretty darn pleased with myself.

Right: January 10, 2015 –  Z#1 –  My first tile. Drawn with a Sharpie in a blank notebook.

Here we are three years later, and I am just as hooked on Zentangle as I was that first day.  I love looking forward to that moment every day when I can forget everything else and just tangle.  I enjoy the feeling of starting with a blank square and not knowing what it will look like when I’m done.  ‘OK, I’m finished with this section – what’s next?’  I sit a minute and then it comes to me.  I pick up the pen and draw the next section.

Left: January 10, 2016 –  Z#384 – One year later.  Having fun with tangle patterns.

Zentangle is one constant in my life, and while I did commit to completing “One Zentangle a Day” three years ago, the fact is, I would have a hard time not doing it at this point.  If I’m tired, I’m cranky, I’m stressed, it’s a way to unwind, to shut out the world and just focus on this one thing. It’s safe and comforting, and because I have no expectations, I don’t have to worry about how it will look in the end – it’s just for me.  If I’m in a good mood or have lots of energy, I find myself wanting to try something new and explore the boundaries.  Then I play with colour, texture, new ideas, pushing my own limits – just playing for fun.

Right:  January 10, 2017 – Z#858  – Two year anniversary.  Exploring different ways of using space

The world of Zentangle seems to expand and contract according to my own wishes at any given time.  There is structure there – in the process, the method, the patterns – but there is flexibility, too.  The border is in pencil so you can choose to ignore it – the patterns invite variations, and ‘mistakes’ are truly opportunities for new ideas.  There is something about it that always makes me curious to see what’s going to happen next.

So what does three years of ‘one Zentangle a day’ look like?  I’ve completed over 1000 pieces to date, from simple 3.5” tiles to canvases and framed pieces.  But more importantly, every day I have dipped my toe into the world of art, tapped that creative side, and maybe touched that child in me that saw patterns, colour and wonder in everything.

Left:  January 10, 2018 – Z#1319 – Three years and counting

One simple step that unlocked a door to a world I’m still exploring.

So what’s next for you?

How do you relax?  Do you have any ways to explore your inner artist?  I’d love to hear your comments.