Sunday, March 13, 2011

Zentangles? Nope, just doodles.


Huh? I'll admit I'm just not "getting it" (the Zentangle craze). Let me say up-front that I know I'm opinionated and I might annoy you but please don't take my opinions personally. They're just opinions; that's all. So let's get on with it: I'm having a little trouble with this Zentangle thing many of you have been posting about in recent weeks.

People like to sit next to me at meetings so they can watch me doodle. Compulsively. Important dates and information become incorporated into my designs. When I wrote "7 things about myself" for a "blogger award" recently, I admitted to being a compulsive doodler on my list. I have doodled on randomly strange objects like bowling shoes, and I can't stand to be at any meeting or workshop without a pen for doodling. My mom, who never much understood me as a child, did at least accept my doodling fanatacism, and when they first arrived on the market, she purchased me loads of Flair pens in every color imaginable so I could fill the margins and covers of all my spiral notebooks for classes. She continued to buy them for me for years. Mom's no longer around to buy them, but Flair pens are still a favorite doodle-pen for me, back on the store shelves for a couple of years now.
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Here are doodles from a recent meeting at Temple Beth El (black and white doodles below and up top), done with ball point pen. You might deduce we were talking a bit about money. The doodles were never meant to be seen beyond the meeting, but I'm posting them to make a point. I think they look Zentangle-ish.

So back to Zentangles. I find myself a bit puzzled, because they look JUST like many of my doodles. I decided to check out the Zentangle website figuring that maybe there must be something I was missing. And I discovered that they sell supplies. I need to purchase special supplies from a special dealer just to DOODLE? And, if I have my students fill a page with sectioned off patterns and designs all in black and white do I now have to say we are doing Zentangles? Or can I still call it simply be practice in repetition, pattern, and design, and can I use ANY DRAWING MATERIAL I WANT? I mean, we art teachers have been doing this FOREVER.

These photos below (and the color detail at the top) are of a slightly flawed white leather pocketbook I purchased. The doodles were done in Sharpies, which I love almost as much as Flair pens.

To me, it all boils down to this: if I want to eat REAL Italian food, I go to the local Italian restaurant owned by Italian immigrants. It's authentic. I do not go to the Olive Garden for authentic Italian cooking; Olive Garden just a brand name that is well-marketed. It doesn't mean the food is no good; it's just not necessary to go the Olive Garden for great Italian-style food, and it is NOT as authentic. Zentangles seems to me the same thing - someone who has found a way to successfully market doodling and make some money while taking away the "authenticity" of doodles without rules.
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Or another example: I make jewelry. I do not buy kits. I pick out the beads I want, the findings I want, etc, and while I might look at other jewelry or books for ideas, in the end I make my own decisions and figure out how to make it work. Zentangles seems to me a bit like buying the kit to do what can easily be done without it.
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Please weigh in with your opinions on Zentangles vs doodling, and don't be afraid to disagree with me. It won't be the first time, believe me, and I don't offend easily!!
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And in the meantime, I think I'll go doodle...

69 comments:

  1. I have to admit I was confused about it at first, too. I also doodle. Who doesn't? My doodles are not as detailed as Zentangles or even yours, but nonetheless doodles. I guess it is a marketing ploy that has worked. I like the name better than "doodle" too. Seems more...professional somehow. Ha! I think I may do a Zentangle unit soon...or...is it a Doodle unit?

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  2. If you come up with another new name for doodling, put together a little kit of "special" supplies, and offer to do workshops on the "how to's" around your area, you might have a cottage industry for when you retire!!!! (just kidding -- there are better ways to spend those retirement hours!!)

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  3. Well, I think "zentangle' sounds much more 'arty' LOL.
    I say I do zentangles, but actually I haven't bought their supplies. I just use my markers, pens, my sketchbook, ... so maybe I just have to call it doodling?

    It doesn't really matter how the thing is called. I just love zendoodling. It calms me down in a way. But than again any drawing or painting activity does...

    I agree on many things you say. Maybe I just don't get it either?

    Love the bags btw.

    Ilse at
    http://artlessonsfrombelgium.blogspot.com/

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  4. I agree, zentangle are just doodles, though perhaps more "finished" than many doodles. I was a bit confused at first, since there are sites with directions for different types of zentangles. It seems that if you are trying to have a Zen moment all of those instructions would get in the way.

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  5. I think blue bird is exactly right. Zentangle sounds arty and by giving doodling a fancy name I think it let's some people justify spending their time doing something that may not usually be seen as a "good use of time." (doodling) At least I think that is why they are able to sell stuff.
    For me I started using the word Zentangle this year with my students as a way to make, "fill the space with pattern" sound a little more exotic.

    It is what it is though. Doodling with patterns. I would LOVE to go to a zen tangle workshop to see how they explain it to be anything beyond that;) From looking at their sets they sell I wonder if the idea sheets for different patterns and designs are what appeal to many people and convince them to buy...

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  6. Well, I currently have a zentangle post up, so I suppose this is somewhat directed towards me- but don't worry- I am not offended one little bit. In my opinion zentangle is doodling, and by no means do you HAVE to purchase any supplies to buy into it. (I have not!) Good art teachers use what they have on hand, right?
    My kids have been having a good time with them, and I tell them it is good to put their energy into something like drawing complicated patterns (very relaxing and zen-like!)

    I completely agree with Mrs. Art teacher...it is a great way to get the students to work a little harder and spend more time on something like this when you present it as a zentangle, rather than a doodle. We have been working on them as a starter lesson to a grafitti project we are now working on (which I will be posting soon!)
    So I guess to sum it up...zentangle, doodle...tomato, to-mah-to ;)

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  7. Wow, your doodles really are quite the artform in and of themselves. I wish I could weigh in on zentangles. I look at the blogs that have that with the thought that I will read the posts and learn what it is about at some point. Right now I just look at the designs therein and admire them.

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  8. Again, I couldn't agree with you more!! Love it.
    Lauralee

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  9. Wait...Phyl...you're opinionated?????????????? NO???!?!? :) ha ha I was kind of wondering about those things people had been posting?!? I just didn't get it...but did think they were cool lookin'.

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  10. I'm cracking up. I've been away from the computer for a few hours, and I come back and WOW you've been here commenting! Sometimes the most inconsequential posts get the most reaction! Love it...

    Ilse, I love the name that you coined: zendoodling. That sounds to me like just relaxing, doodling, and having a "Zen" moment while absorbed in a doodle. It lacks the word "tangle" in Zentangle. I think "tangle" is a stressful word - it makes me think of that mass of leftover yarn in the art room that we call the "tangle-bomb".

    Christie, I like your retirement venture idea! - Imagine By the way, Mr. E, I'm convinced we've got to meet each other some day

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  11. OOPS my own comment got posted before it was done! Yikes. Anyhow, what I was trying to say was: Christie - I like the idea of doodling my retirement away and making money at it!

    And Mr. E, yes, someday maybe I'll find myself in your neighborhood or you in mine, and I think we'd get along just fine!

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  12. kristin thomas- I too have had a bit about zentangles on my blog.

    I went to a workshop and it was really nice. I love to learn new things, as I'm sure we all do as educators. I went in with a really open mind and yep, they provided the 'right' materials and the fancy names. I think some people need to be told what to do or use to feel comfortable in the art world. I have continued to zentangle but I don't use the tools presented. I like a sharpie and a smoother paper.

    Anyway, the presenter told us that Zentalgels is all about 'finding your zen'. I'm not really a zen person… I'm always doing 400 things at once but I was up for the challenge. I found that I had to constantly remind my hand to loosen the grip of my pen and my mind to not think about other things. It was hard but I can see where it would work for some people.

    The designs are broken down… once again I think to make EVERY artist feel successful. I know from visiting your blog Phyl, you don't need (or want) anyone to tell you how to do things. You are an extremely creative soul. You're talented and a big thinker. I can see where this might baffle you because you wouldn't need anyone to show you how to doodle.

    I think zentangles are a great way to present to classes… to show students how to be as successful even if art isn't thier thing. I have ADHD kids going home and using zentangleing everything. I have had their parents ask what this is and where to get more information. When I play soft music and explain the breakdown of the 'tangles', the class is calm and thoughtful. It's great! Then I move into the next class where I'm encouraging motion, movement, and energy with painting or clay.

    Art can take so many forms.

    I applaud you conversation starter. It got a lot of fun responses.

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  13. omg I LOVE your doodle bags! You could soooooo sell those. You could call them zenndoodle bags!

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  14. @ Natlie: if this was a facebook post I'd 'like' it :)

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  15. Wow - and to think it all started with one little post on my blog (I think??). I totally understand the not "getting" it. I was sucked into the idea that this was a "new" type of art, when essentially this type of art form has been around since people began drawing in caves! Obviously not as intricate and delicate as those we create now...but that the meaning behind the Zentangling thing is that they stress that ANYONE can draw. Even if you have never drawn before or don't feel comfortable drawing this type of doodling can make you feel successful in your ability to be creative. The tangle steps are broken down so that those people who are not like us art people can try it as well. For me, all those tangles are a starting point if I need them. We all have mind blocks when we create and by sharing the millions of patterns and designs is just like looking up a word in a dictionary. I have my own "tangle dictionary" just in case I get stuck along the way in my creative journey.

    Teaching elementary kids, it seems as though every single on one of those kids love art. But truthfully, I know there are a handful that just hate it! They "can't draw." Zentangling in the classroom has giving those few kids the confidence they need to feel good about their art.

    So, whether you have jumped on board with Zentangling or not, I hope that we can all agree that what we do for the future of our students is what is important at the end of the day. You don't have to buy the fancy paper, the expensive pens, or even have to Zentangle inside a cute square box. Doodle away and be happy! Call it Zentangling or Doodling is fine with me!!!! In the end, we gotta have fun and be happy.

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  16. Whoa, lots of run-on sentences! Can you tell my mind was working faster then I can type!? Sorry. Hope y'all understood what I was trying to say!! :)

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  17. I agree, Zentangles is a sophisticated way to market drawing complicated patterns. I don't call it doodles when I'm teaching my students but I do when I draw during meetings. I receive the Zentangle email newsletter and look forward to new designs. I have bought the Design Original series of books. I found them an easy step-by-step way of breaking the patterns down which I teach my 4th and 5th graders. I do tell them "Zentangles" is a trademark and for advertising but that they are drawing patterns which anyone can do, anytime.
    We have a lot of Zentangle workshops available locally taught by "certified" instructors which I think is a bit much. It is a good way to teach to those that have little drawing experience or are intimidated by picking up a pen.

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  18. Totally agree with many of the posters here! I love to teach this way of "doodling" to my kids too. I found a little YouTube video of an artist making a Zendala, essentially a circular zendoodle. The kids got it and LOVED this lesson. They doodled in and outside of school... teachers were doodling. BTW... I do think it's just a fancy name for doodling. It's just another trend. I find it calming and allows me and my kids to focus in this crazy, fast paced world!

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  19. Phyl,

    Thanks for inviting me to weigh in on this. I definitely see where you're coming from. And I remember doing a project like this when I took Art I in high school. I think the idea of buying the Zentangle "kit" is a bit silly, but that working with quality materials is not. If you are going to trade or sell a Zentangle or any art you make, you want it to be made from quality materials. Secondly, I think the whole idea of encouraging doodling is fabulous. Yes, many of us artsy-types were doodling before we could talk. But to a lot of people, art is "that thing I've never been good at." Therefore, for those folks, Zentangle takes away a lot of the fear. You have a small drawing area, your colors are already chosen, and you simply make the strings in pencil and never erase. So in a way the restrictions are freeing, just like a writing prompt can break you out of writer's block. But heck, make 'em colorful if you want. Use whatever media you want. The whole point is do doodle, relax, and love it. :)

    Thanks for sharing!

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  20. Oh I got so annoyed when I first saw the Zentangle trademark too. I was like, "what? now people are claiming they invented a type of doodling?" I should have packaged it first! I did this exact same drawing assignment years ago with my middle school kids. Anyways, it all about the brandification of our world. Everything has to have a name and people have to "claim" everything.

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    1. It was nothing to "claim" there, it was already already coined by someone else:
      http://www.ripoffreport.com/arts-and-crafts/zentangle/zentangle-rick-roberst-maria-80311.htm

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  21. Ha! I tried to zentangle at my last meeting...which mainly pertains to classroom teachers. I get bored and start doodling on the handouts. So this time I tried...zentangles!!! Nope, still just looked like the normal doodles I usually do. The problem is I usually do this when I am BORED, mostly at meetings about standardized testing...yawn...oh and in college I did this a lot when my monotone professor talked about economics...double yawn...So my point is I am not sure if ever completed a whole page of doodles. Maybe I can find all my old meeting handouts, old notes I have taken and collage them together!! I can call the Messtangles!! Maybe I could market myself and teach Messtangles!! Haha I am kidding of course. Maybe I will try a more serious approach to zentangles cause they really do look awesome!

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  22. It's like selling water. No one would've believed it but here it is! If these zentangles really take off I woshni had thought of it! What's left? Maybe I could package a stick go to the beach this summer and sell "invisible pens" that only show up when you write in the sand! Seriously, I've gotta think of some genius way to get stella and nick and I to the carribean! I've had enough Connecticut winters.

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  23. I had a good giggle when I stumbled onto your blog and all these messages. I was in the middle of my own rant and madly searching references on the internet when I found yours.
    I admit to being rather peeved myself - all those years (30) of teaching the elements and principles of design and now I'm being told that someone has patented a visual concept that is basically doodling!!!! which is how my grade 9 students put those design concepts into practice ...GRRR
    I settled down after my giggle and wrote an entry about the concept with examples of how the kids did theirs instead.

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  24. I'm still having so much fun reading all your comments! I'm glad we all have the ability to not take this all too seriously. Keep 'em coming, ladies! (and Mr.E)

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  25. Hi Phyl
    I've been away from the computer for a few days -- taking care of my mom, who had surgery (she's OK). Just checking in briefly now, what a surprise to see all the comments! While driving I was thinking about this post. New retirement idea (just for fun) - since so many of us love your bag, you could teach how to turn thrift store finds into doodle (or zentagle) treasures. Maybe call it "Thriftdoodles"!!:)))))

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  26. Thriftdoodles? Hmmm sounds like fun! But more fun just to make the stuff than to try to teach it to others I think. I just like to doodle mindlessly.

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  27. I live in the Philippines and teach a craft class for children here. I had never heard of Zentangles before so I immediately googled them. I must say that I think it is just another (more expensive word) for doodling! But I do admire their business acumen, as it would be hard to get anyone to pay for doodling kits or seminars! I did have to chuckle when I saw they had a section on the theory of Zentangles but after reading through it I can see how concentrated doodling can help kids with a short attention span, as well as children who demand too much perfectionism from their art work and throw projects away the minute it does not turn out how they imagined. As a consumer, I might have taken a class just as push to consider any doodle as an art project worth completing. Hmmm, that said maybe I can teach Doodling here in the Philippines and make some decent money? I wonder what the Filipino is for Zentangles………….

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  28. it's a very clever marketing ploy and kudos too, BUT I do find it astonishing that some claim it is a new method of drawing (along with the zen of it), and some of the copyright claims being made about the use of terms, and "official patterns". while any completed work becomes copyright, the elements that go into them are not. Many of the patterns have been used for centuries in various cultures in embroidery, ceramics, henna, paintings etc. The design principles are taught in many college level design 101 classes. Add to that the meditative qualities that go into creating have been around for centuries.
    So while I think it's all in good fun, and clever marketing, and it's great that people are getting joy from it I do think *some* of the staunch defenders/certified teachers claims make them look a bit silly.

    ps. I LOVE the thriftdoodling :)

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  29. Hi Phyl, I am responding to the comment you left in my blog today: http://veryspecialart.blogspot.com/2011/04/doodling-pink-sky.html#comments
    I called it doodling, and so did the article " Study: Doodling Helps You Pay Attention" from www.Time 2009.
    Being a follower of your blog, I was introduced to Zentangles when you posted about it in the blog. I found it quite nice that doodling is associated with Zen, being that Zen is relaxing, it is like yoga drawing.Looking in some of the Zentangles blog I do see the difference. The Zentangles breakes down doodling in to steps so that everyone can do it, giving anybody the experience and realaxing joy that artist feel while doodling or drawing. It is like my jazz dancing in the gym.
    thanks for the comment
    from one doodler to the other.

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  30. well I am so pleased I did some research on Zentangle and other related forms of art....which eventually brought me to this blog!!! I agree whole heartedly with all the comments above. You all have saved me a special trip to America to to the CZT course. I live in Australia, so it would have been a big expence when all i have to do is look around me for repeated patterns to copy etc. I have made up my mind now....Am going to do my own thing using 'line weaving', nature provides it all for us, yes even fibinacci(a section on the Zentagle site)like the patterns on a pineapple!I think our Grand Creator copy wrote that and He lets us use it too!!!

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  31. Saw this blog by accident and decided to make these posts because familiar with the topic.
    These “inventors” of new style took the ideas of filling the asymmetric spaces with different repetitive patterns (I would call zentangling differently - 'zen-crooking') in 2003 from some artist's ink work.
    When this serious artist manifested her new style of visual arts, which she created, zen-crooks decided to copy her in everything using her artistic idea (in a very primitive way) and her business sensibility, the ways of promoting the idea... They even offered for sell kits with paper called the 'red square' (you know Moscow's Red Square, Moscow is the city where this artist came from to the US). Read about it more: http://www.ripoffreport.com/arts-and-crafts/zentangle/zentangle-rick-roberst-maria-80311.htm

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    1. Rip Off Report is not "evidence." You can't still doodling. People have been doodling from the beginning of time. That was the entire point of this blog post. If you look at the examples in the post, the author has been filling in shapes with doodles since childhood. The only thing Nadia Russ did was exhibit it on a professional level and the media labeled it NeoPopRealism because that's what they do, they label things. You can't "steal" doodling or even the idea of doodling. That's why there are so many books called "zen doodling" and the ZenTangle people can't stop it.

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  32. And a little bit more information for art teachers on zentangling or zencrooking. New generation does not deserve to be fooled but innocence of their art teachers. So, get more sophisticated:) because now it is actually much more behind the regular doodling... Learn about zen-crooks'teaching method patenting and more:
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110407/00435413807/zen-art-patent-protecting-zen-art.shtml#comments

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  33. I agree with a lot of what's been said, but the thing about Zentangle is that it's supposed to be mindful doodling - doodling with a purpose, with some sort of conscious structure - there are guidelines to it and a myriad of patterns. There's no research to back up, however, that mindful doodling is any more effective than regular free-flowing doodling, as far as I know, at least. Some of us in the world like to follow patterns and get lost in the patterns so I see the draw there for Zentangle. It's like washing dishes - we do it everyday, without really thinking about it, grumbling perhaps, but it becomes a different act altogether when you think about what you're doing as you're washing the dishes - being in the moment.

    But requiring special supplies just to doodle so you can call it a Zentangle? That's just lame and I think very restrictive in scope.

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  34. I couldn't agree with you more. Zentangling is just doodling presented in a consumable form by clever marketers. You and I and millions of others have been doing this for decades free of any constraints. Only in America would someone have the gall to turn a spontaneous free activity into a product. And only in America would people eat it up and pay for it.
    As for it being "mindful" doodling with a purpose. That's not very Zen. The Zen aspect comes from it being spontaneous. You generate imagery on an unconscious level and it takes you were it wants to go. That is being in the moment.

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  35. I think your first statement hit the nail on the head. "People like to sit next to me at meetings so they can watch me doodle." Are they watching you walk? No. Are they watching you read a book? Guessing not. Are they watching you type? Doubtful. Know why? Because they can do all of those things themselves. They watch you doodle because they can't and they find what you are doing fascinating. Those people are Zentangle's target market. Zentangle is definitely doodling, but it's doodling that everyone can do, not just "artistic" people. Just like people offer drawing classes, these people are offering doodling classes.

    They call it Zentangling because the root word of zen means meditative state. When you construct the patters in a certain order, a certain way, you can calm your mind and enter a meditative state, which a lot of the commenters here have pointed out. Again, I fail to see the problem.

    These people found an ignored market and are bringing a lot of joy into people's lives. People that thought they had no artistic ability whatsoever are now creating beautiful art and have something to be proud of. I can 100% understand why they're willing to pay for it.

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    1. Thanks for piping in on the conversation on this two-year old post! It's funny to me that my idle chatter is still causing such a commotion. Like I sad, I'm not afraid of a little disagreement, but I'm frankly surprised that this post has turned up again. Thanks for adding your thoughts.

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    2. I'm late on the bandwagon. Here I am 2 years later and still loving this post! Imagine the irritation of a doodler or artist who now feels blocked by someone else claiming to trademark doodles or doodle style art. I resent it. Sure, they make money off of it. But I refuse to allow my art to be compared to a zentangle :) I've done this since the 1990s. They came up with it in 2005. :P Still an awesome article.

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    3. Shelah, thanks for piping in! I think this post has gotten more comments than anything else I've posted. Meanwhile, I doodled my way through speakers at a mini-conference today, and just bought a new pack of Flair pens. And I'm about to get a new cover for my iPad and will doodle it just like I did my prior iPad cover. And my bowling shoes. And my car. And I love the name 'thriftdoodles' though my husband will get upset if I doodle on antiques.

      So I haven't changed my mind, but I love all the differing opinions, and some of the rage, too. But still, to me, calling it zentangles is like calling every tissue a Kleenex, or calling a snow machine a SkiDoo, or calling a refrigerator a Frigidaire (OK, so I'm dating myself with that one, but you know what I mean).

      Anyhow, thanks for visiting!

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  36. I know this is an OLD post by internet terms, but I found it when I googled "what's so hot about Zentangles?" -- I feel much the way you do, and can't really understand what doodling with set patterns that have to be done a specific way and therefore don't allow freeform doodling has to do with Zen at all... I think I'm just going to ignore it and keep on doodling the way I have for the past 4+ decades...

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    1. Thanks for your comment! I love it when people discover old posts. And after 3 years, my feelings on this topic haven't changed one bit, despite reading many other art teachers posting about Zentangle art projects since I wrote the original post. So, take a deep breath, and doodle on, my friend!!

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  37. First of all, love your blog. And have had some fun with it tonight. As far as the zen in doodling. I discovered this form of doodling this last fall, and after a series on doodles on the edges of my churches bulletin I came to realize that it is what I have been doing since I was in high school which was in 1978-1980. ( That dates me some)
    Doodling is just that doodling, and why do you need structure in art? Isn't art something that is part of the artists take on life? Or maybe I am thinking too much too late at night, lol.
    I will be honest I have used some of the patterns that the tangled people have used. But I have not followed all the rules, as getting to "Zennish" ( is that a word? ) takes the fun out of art. And has for doing just squares, I have done this on many a piece of paper, including napkins and bills that need to be paid.
    I will go back to enjoying art for the sake of art. And not get so stuck in the how's and the why's of making patterns a certain way.
    Oh and I generally added unicorns, flowers and butterflies to my doodles and I still do.

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    1. Thanks for your comment; even if it isn't real, I love the word 'Zennish'!

      And you go right ahead with those flowers and unicorns! I usually add dragonflies, cars, fish, flowers, and always spirals.

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  38. Okay first I admit to not reading every single comment but I read several and many other articles and thoughts about Zentangles verses doodling and I have come to my own conclusions. So here it is: Yes, I agree that it is a very clever marketing ploy and has earned several people a pretty good income but in some ways I disagree that it is exactly the same thing. There is a prescribed method to Zentangling and in doodling there is not. You do have to admit that. I can tell the difference in your drawings simply because you do not have the frame around them. You admitted that you did not sit down with the intention to doodle. There are also many recognizable and named patterns that are done. That being said I sometimes don't know where my Zentangles stop and my doodling begins. Sometimes I start with "the method" but then end up wondering off to a fill I have seen else where that is not really considered to be a tangle and that is easily remembered and already in my head. Also just to contradict myself in the past before discovering Zentangles I did sit down to purposely doodle. I found Zentangles one day when looking for new fill ideas. For me it did open up a whole new world including someone who finally explained shading in a way I could understand it. That was probably just finding the right demonstration, I don't really know for sure. It reminded me of the color theory classes I had as an art minor in college. It also made me dig way back to watercolor techniques and many other things. Just plain doodling at that point was my launching pad. I would call my work Zentangled inspired as they instruct not to violate there so called copyright.
    Now the Mortality of it is something else how can a idea be copy righted my work will never look exactly like Maria's or any other Tanglers work even though we use the same patterns. I have sold one piece to a friend to make some pocket money. It was all purple and included stuff I made up, tangle patters and doodle fills. How could that ever be copy righted every ones art is there own.
    Gosh as I write this I can see I am even still mixed on much of my opinions.
    Really I think the main difference is intention and prescribed patterns regardless if the look similar or not. It's all in your intention.

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  39. I know this is a late comment but the subject really gets up my nose. It is the height of arrogance to presume that anyone can put a patent on creativity. The zentangle name represents everything I hate in society - and by that I mean the selfish desire to own and sell something which should be free. It's like putting copyright on the bible - the very word of God. Some people have nerve! I will doodle anytime and anywhere and anyway I want to and no self-centred, money-grubbing, so-called "artists" will ever tell me otherwise... and if I ever here that word "zentangle" ever spoken in public I will make very sure the person who said it knows just what it means, and what a dirty word it really is.

    P.S. Your designs are lovely, Phyl. :)

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    1. Melina, I always know about and read comments, no matter when they are left, and this post has a habit of cropping back up now and then. I love your comment! But there are so many well-meaning people who have adopted the word Zentangle (the capitalization is an auto-correction; not my choice, for sure!) and use it without grasping what is really represents. I cringe when I see art teachers post lesson plans for Zentangles, but I haven't been successful sbout changing the mindset, I guess. Grrr.

      Anyhow, thanks for visiting, and thanks for your comment!

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  40. I am way late to this post, but for the last couple of years the name Zentangle has bothered me to my core. I have drawn/doodled/ and done art since i can remember and i am 53 years old. I see patterns in everything around me and i like to jot them down. When i was caring for my mother with Alzheimer's i would draw while we visited... doodle down feelings and ideas of our conversations (which weren't always coherent on her part)..But my hand movements calmed her down... it was a way we connected even when she didn't know me.. she remembered someone that loved to draw. I then research doodling and ran across a new craze called Zentangle. What? I was as confused as my poor mom with the idea of naming strokes that had been around FOREVER. I am an artist, i doodle, i draw, and i create things from my mind... i recall the patterns that i have seen. No one is going to Label what i have been doing for as long as i can remember. here is something else that i have found in my research: https://www.techdirt.com/blog/?company=zentangle Thanks for your blog post and helping me to feel like i am not the only one who felt this way!

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    1. Great article. Thank you for linking it for my readers. You may be 'late to the post', as you say, but four years since I wrote it hasn't changed my mind one bit! And I still see 'zentangle' art lessons being posted all over the place that are really often just mindful doodling. I wish the art teachers doing these lessons would call them what they are: filling spaces or shapes with repeated patterns and designs. Sigh....... What will someone try to patent next??

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  41. http://drawsketch.about.com/od/doodles/a/Doodles-And-Zentangles.htm Forget to add this link... very informative!

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    1. Darla, thanks for the link. My name was even mentioned in the article!!!

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  42. What? Phyl don't you know you have to be a Certified Zentangle teacher to use the name and teach this method! You had better get going on your training!

    Waldorf Schools call it Form Drawing and have been teaching students to draw running forms and designs similar to celtic for over a hundred years. All of this drawing is great practice for students learning to see details.

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  43. Wow! I'm so glad I'm not the only one commenting about this 2011 post in 2015! Just wanted to say that a couple of weeks ago I "discovered" Zentangle. I now agree with you all that it's basically copyrighted doodling, but you know what? No one ever told me before that "doodling" could be art! If I hadn't jumped (briefly) on the Zentangle bandwagon, maybe I wouldn't have been motivated to finally (re)start my long defunct art journal. So it's not all bad, right? Anyway, great (and long-lasting) post - thanks!! :-)

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    1. Chrissy, I've thought about doing another post on this topic! In the Facebook Art Teacher group, people are more an more often, constantly posting lessons about 'Zentangles' when really they are teaching their students about pattern and design, and not truly Zentangles. Anyhow, thanks for visiting the post that keeps coming back to life!! :)

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  44. I would love to read an updated Zentangle post, Phyl, hope you'll do that! Really glad I found your blog, too!

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  45. Admittedly, the title of your post drew me in. I was infatuated at first, maybe because it justified my doodling....then it started feeling like the emperor's new clothes, then I did some deeper research and found Nadia Russ. Ms Russ made an art form of this as far back as the 80s, as other posters have noted. I, too, doodle compulsively, and it helps me stay focused in meetings so boring that I would otherwise tune out...sounds like an oxymoron, but its true. So does this patent, copyright, whatever, mean I can't sell a piece of artwork if it contains any of the elements that the authors seek to protect? Hmmm..... PS: Congrats on having the longest running thread I've ever seen!! Equal to octogenarian in offline life!!

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    1. Thank you, Deborah. I love that this is the "post that keeps on ticking!" As a matter of fact, I do exactly the same thing as you in meetings, for the same reason, and have said so in several other posts on this blog! In the search bar on the right of the blog, type the word 'doodle' and you'll find several of these posts. Thanks for stopping by!

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  46. Doodles. We all do them; at least I've seen a lot of similar works, including mine since I was in college and probably before. That was 81-85; and probably before. It irks me that someone copy-writes this look. It certainly did not erupt into the universe in the last few years.

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  47. This is funny and I only learned about zentangles today from buying art supplies to take up my old beloved pleasure of drawing, i mean doodling. Is noodling copywrited? And i looove the purse, i used to do this on jeans, and my mom has books from many years of church, filled with elaborate doodlins while listening! Ohh God and doodling. ...we're getting too close to Googling...gotta stay away from that! P.S. I love to draw disney style clowns!

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  48. This is funny and I only learned about zentangles today from buying art supplies to take up my old beloved pleasure of drawing, i mean doodling. Is noodling copywrited? And i looove the purse, i used to do this on jeans, and my mom has books from many years of church, filled with elaborate doodlins while listening! Ohh God and doodling. ...we're getting too close to Googling...gotta stay away from that! P.S. I love to draw disney style clowns!

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    2. This post just never seems to grow old even, though I posted it five years ago! Thanks for stopping and visiting. Meanwhile I am still doodling, but nowadays I am experimenting with permanent paint markers including metallics, on everything from boots to purses to iPad covers!

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  49. I have definite mixed emotions about "Zentangle" Registered Trademark. The art world is tough, so I can't fault Rick and Maria for making a buck.

    On the other hand, the patterns themselves, which are not copyrighted and really can't be because many go back to prehistory. They also imply that the method is unique, i.e. using the strings and a meditative process. To me, it isn't necessarily a meditative process - but it is zen like process because it encourages focus on the task and total engagement.

    I like the term zen doodling because it is not trademarked. The zen is being focused on what you are doing. Just doodling implies you are filling up the margins while listening to something else.

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    1. The post that just keeps on living! I wrote this more than 5 years ago! My opinions haven't changed since then, but my doodles have gotten more sophisticated. Maybe I'm weird, but I'm usually both focusing on my doodles, AND on something else at the same time - a meeting, a song, a conversation, or whatever. But I'm not filling margins. I'm filling pages, or recently, shoes, purses, IPad covers, and so on.

      Anyhow, thanks for visiting the blog!

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