Zentangle: Meditative Doodling Art

Say what? I heard of Zentangle for the first time about a month ago when Diane, my Airbnb host, invited me to a Portland Zentangle Meetup last October. Because I had nothing to do that day, I thought: why not! And I was pleasantly surprised.

Diane was pretty new at it too, but she briefly explained that it was a kind of “artistic meditation.” And the website says: “It increases focus and creativity, provides artistic satisfaction along with an increased sense of personal well being.”

Boatyard Zentangle by findingthenow

To be honest, the whole thing sounded like a bunch of baloney to me until she showed me some examples of the art. That’s when I got interested. My first thought was that it looked like my doodles, but nicer.

I doodle a lot; I doodle when I talk on the phone, or I’m stressed, or bored, or trying to avoid listening to a conversation that is in the same room as I am. My doodles usually consist of abstract drawings created by layered structural patterns.

And guess what? “Zentangles are pieces of unplanned, abstract, black and white art created through a very specific Method from an ensemble of simple, structured patterns on a 3.5-inch (89 mm) square paper tile.”

Simple, structured patterns, that’s what I do, without all the other rules.

The rules of a  Zentangle according to the creators are:

  1. Use a 3.5 inch square paper called a “tile.” (The purpose of the tile is so that the artist is able to rotate the tile and allow the patterns to be taken in different directions.)
  2. With a pencil, draw four points inside the square
  3. Connect the points
  4. Divide the new area into sections with lines called a “string”
  5. With a permanent pen (Micron pens recommended) fill each section with a different pattern called a “tangle”
  6. Add shading with a pencil
  7. Sign and date

So, rather than following all the rules and steps of a Zentangle, I decided to embrace Zentangle by simply taking inspiration from it by learning new pattern ideas to create more beautiful doodles than I used to.

My very first two Zentangles.

I attended a second Zentangle Meetup. The theme of the night was Holiday Zentangles since it was November. We watched a short video of some pattern examples, we went through a bunch of papers with pattern inspiration, and we spent about an hour creating a Zentangle.

zentangle meetup zentangle meetup zentangle meetup zentangle meetup

Our creations

The finished (and unfinished) Zentangles of the night.

It was very interesting to compare all of our Zentangles and see how we all have vastly different styles and brains.

zentangle zentangle zentangle

This one is mine and unfinished.
My 3rd ever Zentangle with a holiday theme. (Finished it the next day.)
My 3rd ever Zentangle with a holiday theme. (Finished it the next day.)


There tons of books about Zentangle out there. I bought this zentangle 9-piece set on Amazon that comes with 3 micron pens, 1 pencil and 5 small original tiles. They also have the 3-piece and 11-piece sets.

What I learned from Zentangling:

  • It’s fun.
  • It looks cool.
  • It’s easy. (You can make it as complicated or as easy as you want)
  • You can mess up and no one will notice.
  • It focuses and relaxes my mind.
  • It doesn’t relax my body. But that’s because I tense my shoulders up when I do art because I like being precise. In fact, after an hour, I felt tired from drawing and needed to take a break to relax physically.
  • I need to work on holding the pen lightly and relaxing my shoulders.
  • You can do cool art with just a pen and a notebook or paper. (A thin marker and textured or thick paper are best.)
  • I want to keep doing it and I think it’s a perfect activity idea for traveling.

Have you ever heard of this? Would you try it?

Featured image Zentangle by Imprensibilis

7 thoughts on “Zentangle: Meditative Doodling Art

  1. I’ve heard of Zentangle. We used to use it at the library I worked at as a hand on activity during some of our events. (One of our event planners especially liked to use it when she visited senior centers.) I always thought it sounded really cool and like a good way to start doing art without all the pressure of making something really perfect because you’re just doodling. Now I may have to actually try one myself!


    1. Yeah, actually one woman really likes it because she don’t consider herself very artistically talented, yet when she’s done with a zentangle, she feels happy about it. The other nice thing is that the result is unplanned, so there is no disappointment from getting a different result than expected. 🙂


      1. I googled zentangle and ended up on their official website where they link to some of the official patterns. Man some of them are complicated! They take way more artistic skill than I have 🙂


  2. I have never heard of this!!! Beautiful. I am fastinated!
    I am definitely trying this out!
    Thank you Mani x


  3. Fantastic! Ive got to try it out! 🙂


  4. I love the tangles you created!


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