Getting ready for another Basics class next week. I’ve taught this lesson twenty times now since I started in 2016 and I just never get tired of it. There’s so much in something so simple.

So why do I like it so much?

  • It’s when we all take the time (me included!) to stop, take a few breaths and quiet our minds. Instead of thinking about the lesson and what I need to remember to say, I just let it go for a minute.
  • It’s when you can tell someone is nervous about starting, but they make that first mark and let go of their tension just a little bit more.
  • It’s opening that door of “what if I get it wrong?” and seeing someone take that risk. And they realize there is no ‘wrong way’ and that lets them risk a teeny bit more.
  • It’s enjoying the versatility of these simple tangles – what you can do with 4 patterns, and showing people they can choose how to draw their version.
  • It’s showing the magic of shading; how applying a little graphite here and there and blending, makes shapes jump out at you.
  • It’s watching people nervously put their tile together with the others, and then seconds later hearing other people exclaim – ooh – how did you do that? I love this! And seeing them understand that although everyone had the same instructions, each tile is unique – and that means everyone has their own artistic voice.
  • It’s when someone who thought ‘I can’t draw’ realizes that they created something amazing that’s all their own.

If you know me at all, you’ll know that I have a firm belief that the need to create is part of what makes us human – that we all have an innate desire to express ourselves, whether it’s through music, dance, writing, or visual art. I love seeing someone remember what it’s like to create without judgement as a child, and tap into that part of them again; to give themselves permission to create just for their own enjoyment.

And of course, realizing that ‘I can draw!’ which leads next into ‘what else did you think you couldn’t do?’ And how the mindset of the Zentangle method begins to flow into other parts of life.

It certainly has with me. How you tackle something seemingly overwhelming with ‘one stroke at a time’. How you accept when things go in a different direction and see what happens next. How imperfection can be beautiful. How your approach is unique to you, and that you don’t have to be like everyone else. And oh, so much more.

Every time I teach a Zentangle Basics class, I come back to the basics myself, and reground. It’s so simple and so profound at the same time.

All of the tiles shown use tangles that can be taught in a Basics class