Sunday, June 21, 2009

Doodle dee doo

Awhile back I ran across a link to this website on someone else's blog. I found it intriguing and also somewhat frustrating, that it was all about a kind of doodling that looked similar to things I have done. But so little information was forthcoming from the site itself, only the tease that there was some secret method, the instructions for which are for sale, along with a "kit" of special cards and pens with which to "zentangle". Hmmmm.

My observation was that one began by using a pencil to lightly draw a shape that you divide into sections, then, using a permanent pen (I like a 03 pigma pen) you proceed to fill each section with a different pattern. The one above, pretty clearly inspired by what I saw on the zentangle site, was my first try. I have a very small sketchbook that I am using for this—I can stick it in my purse easily, so it is there when I have a few minutes of waiting somewhere, or like this week, find myself in a seat, listening to other people talk. (see yesterday's post).

I have set some guidelines for myself in order to add a little challenge to the process, without making it rigidly rulebound.
  1. No pre-planning. Each section is a new blank slate and I make the decision about what pattern to fill it with only after completing the last section.
  2. No starting over. Once I start, I am in it to the finish. Mistakes can become opportunities, or something to simply ignore. The round one, above, is one of my favorites, despite the fact that one section just didn't work. I got confused by the pattern and messed it all up. Oh well—finish it and on to the next.
  3. Each section gets a different pattern.
  4. Strive for contrast between the patterns. On one page I want to see contrasts in scale, contrasts in form (some curvy and sinuous, some crisp and geometric ), contrasts in value.
  5. Don't think of it having to "be for something". Maybe I can use it later, maybe (probably) not. It's all about the process and not about a product.

I think these are great mind stretchers that get me to think about the elements of design without being distracted by subject matter or a finished product. They are also a form of relaxation and focus. Plus, hand skills are always good to practice.

This last one came out wonky, but I really liked some of the patterns.

Try one! It is a little bit addictive. Send me a scan and I'll post it, or post it on your blog and send me a link.


Thanks for indulging my little hurt feelings whine yesterday. I needed some sympathy. Today I am brushing it off. Still confused by this and other unfriendly vibes from someone I viewed as a potential friend, but moving on.


  1. These are neat. I've never been much of a doodler -- though I filled the margins of my math homework with drawings of horses in school. I may have to give this a try...

  2. I love these! I used to do a highly-structured kind of doodle that reminds me a little of what you've posted. Now that I've finished the scarf I was knitting while half-watching stuff on TV, I may pick up a pad and pen instead.

  3. In fact, the doodling I used to do looked exactly like this:

    I used graph paper or just divided a sheet into squares, and then did the same design over and over, forming cool fan shapes. I love that it's all done with straight lines.

  4. Terry you have just reminded me of doodling in drawing class. It was fun and a great way to loosen up every day. Hmm, I think I need to pull out my pens and play a bit more....thanks for the reminder!

  5. Love the doodles Terry.

    I have been playing with that sort of thing lately, too. I didn't come to quilt art via quilting, so was rather timid about what to use for quilting patterns. Now I am being inspired by my doodles, and the actual doodling works for practicing the pattern in my head.

    I am actually being able to use it for abstracted or stylised flower desings which I am painting on fabric. I started the doodle for the fun of it, and because I loved the look...I never realised how much it would help with my art.
    Sandy in the UK

  6. No 3 is beautiful! Much more than just a doodle. -- I added another comment on your earlier posting, because I missed that episode.

  7. The concept of drawing shapes and filling them with geometric designs reminds me of blackwork embroidery. Very nice!

  8. I can see how that could be addictive, but also a useful tool for getting the creative juices flowing. Love to see some more pages from your sketchbook sometime.

  9. Anonymous10:10 PM

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  10. Love the Zentangle! Reminds me of my spirograph and crayon phase. I love doodling like that. It really does help "get things going". The "kit" and the pre-drawn squiggle papers make me giggle just a little in much the same way as the "pillowcase pattern' mystified me at Fabric Depot. There's a pillowcase on my pillow right now. What more does one need? But then,some folks are not in touch with their creative side and need a boost.
    My marketing side applauds them for the concept and the little picture frames. :)
    Perhaps your cranky list person was not as ready for new ideas as she said she was.

  11. your zentangles are terrific! Each one of them is so facinating...I have been devouring their site and a few others...and even did a couple of 'doodlies' (way smaller than the 3.5 inches and just in mechanical pencil on a post-it note...but cool-looking none the less!)

    I have a question for you...When you do the basket weave designs.. do you skip over where it will cross over the other line or do you do that lightly in pencil first and then ink over? Their instructions in the newsletters are not real clear on that point, probably because its covered in the seminar or the box, no doubt!... in fact.. it looks as though they are actually crossing in the steps, but then in the finished zentangle, it's got white where there would be lines if you were not paying attention...

    do do doodling along...thanks for introducing me to this!!

  12. Your zentangles are beautiful!

  13. Hey Terry, I've been playing with the zentangles too, except I usually seem to do them in a circle shape, like a Mandala ... so I call them "ManTangles", LOL! Yours are just beautiful.
    Linda in Houston

  14. Oops, I forgot to add a link to a page on my blog with some of my ManTangles ... here you go ...

  15. What a great way to explore something new and boost creativity. I have a new baby and finding time to commit to a project is tough so I am on the lookout for small ways I can continue being creative until life settles into a normal rhythm again.