Book review: Joy of Zentangle

Danya LeBlanc, Contributor Ω

Joy of Zentangle is a book that explores the art and techniques of drawing to reduce stress and increase creativity.

Zentangle is a new way to keep your brain active and get your creative juices flowing. Image courtesy Design Originals

Zentangle is a new way to keep your brain active and get your creative juices flowing. Image courtesy Design Originals

As a very non-visually creative person, I have never before thought of art as being a stress release. I am continuously frustrated that the dog I’m drawing looks more like a deranged rabbit. Zentangle is a way for all people, creative or otherwise, to improve focus and well-being. The art form itself looks like some kind of doodling, though as discussed in Joy of Zentangle, it is nothing like doodling there’s a clear picture of what will be created.

On my first attempt at a Zentangle, I was disappointed by the mess of squiggles on my page that looked like someone had tried to crochet using overcooked spaghetti. It was, in my humble opinion, an absolute failure at abstract art. However, Joy of Zentangle assured me that with more practice and by mimicking some of the example design techniques in the book, I would soon be coming up with my own Zentangle.

The how-to-Zentangle book is very clear in creating a foundation for beginners to develop their art. Chapter two describes how to start and what to be thinking about in the representations of the boundaries in the canvas. There is no right or wrong in art, and that principle is constantly enforced to encourage artists to open up to themselves and their art as a sort of release.

As it turns out, my fourth attempt turned into something that I would not consider being an embarrassment. By following the steps like creating borders, connecting lines and shading appropriately, the book actually teaches you not only how to be an artist, but also how your mental state can be represented by shapes, lines and shades on a 3.5 inch square tile.

Co-author Sandy Steen Bartholomew uses the analogy that Zentangle is like yoga for your brain: “Zentangle delivers that same sense of thriving and health that yoga can to those who practice it – a wonderful release of tension and stress and increase mental clarity.”

After giving readers a basic understanding of Zentangle, the book goes into detail helping artists develop their creative talent further with elaborate patterns and larger pictures within the art. Zentangles can become extremely complex with layers of patterns and designs. The book teaches aspiring artists how to channel their inspirations of the world around them with ripples, paradoxes, printemps, webs and waves with their drawing pencils.

There are many creative forms of stress release and achieving mental clarity. Some people write poetry, others do yoga, work on a Sudoku, complete a crossword or perhaps draw. For those who have difficulty drawing, Zentangle is a fantastic new option to channel creativity. The next time you’re feeling stressed or overloaded from studying, pick up Joy of Zentangle and a pencil to see if it helps.