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After another long dry spell of feeling completely uninspired but nonetheless itching to create, I decided to try out Zentangling. A friend had recommended it to me as a nice meditative practice that didn’t require much thought or planning. So I got out my nice new apple green sketchbook that I bought myself a while back but had yet to use, and some pens, Googled what this ‘Zentangle’ process really entailed, and launched right in. And indeed it was meditative and nice, but I felt a bit frustrated as well if I’m honest. My abstract ‘doodles’ seemed childish and boring to me. But as I drew little intricate circles, I started to think about how this looked a bit like grains of sand, or the bigger circles like sea urchins, and the swirl ‘string’ I’d started out with reminded me of waves on a stormy sea, and a nautical theme kind of started to come to mind. I’ve been working on a story for a while now that is based on a seafaring village and a storm at sea, and the two kind of merged and I started to think maybe I could turn this zentangle into an artwork kind of based on those sorts of themes. So a big thumbs up to the Zentangling for helping with brainstorming when you don’t have any ideas, but I’m not sure I have the patience for pure Zentangling, which is meant to be purely abstract pattern and only black and white ink. I like colour too much and although I like the abstract motifs as a kind of decorative touch, I like my work to have some semblance of a story to it as well. So what started as a Zentangle ended up really not a Zentangle. In the end, I came up with this:

Sea Shanty

Sea Shanty

This was an interesting and new experience for me in many ways. It feels very different compared to my usual ‘style’ – whatever that may be. I’m not a pen & ink sort of artist usually. I have friends who are professionals in this medium, and compared to them, I feel like a rank amateur, like a little girl playing dress up with her mother’s clothes. I also tend to plan ahead before I start on a work, but this time I wasn’t planning to do anything except put down some random geometric patterns on paper. But nonetheless I’m pretty pleased with the way it turned out for a first attempt, as well as the process. I enjoyed getting to feel absorbed in creating again, something I haven’t really been able to do much lately. This reminded me I must make it more of a priority in life, and make more of an effort to try, even when I’m not feeling the Muse’s presence particularly. This seems like a good method I think for getting me into that mindset when I don’t really feel like I can, which is really useful.

If you’d like to try Zentangle, I can highly recommend it for quieting the mind and relaxing. Adult coloring books, move over! This is much better, because you are really creating something, rather than just decorating a pre-existing pattern with some colour. There is a tonne and a half of stuff out there on YouTube etc, showing you what Zentangle is, how to get started, and some examples of patterns you can use. I found watching people drawing these patterns is itself pretty hypnotic and zen. The basics of Zentangle are really kind of simple – just doodling really, with starting structure, and within bounds. Give it a go sometime!

And here’s a ditty to act as the soundtrack for this piece… 😉

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