Can You Make a Mistake in Zentangle?

I was taught that “you cannot make a mistake in Zentangle.” I also teach this. If follow the philosophy of Zentangle and do NOT begin with the end in mind, your creation will be a surprise, even to yourself. I also tell my students, “you cannot tangle using the Zentangle method and not end up with a Zentangle.”

But, what if you do begin with the end in mind? Then, it is most definitely possible to make a “mistake” as I found out in this week’s Diva Challenge.

CZT Rho Densmore challenges us to make a tile using her tangle Fiore de Pietro, as a memorial to her brother-in-law. The examples she gives with the instructions are simply stunning and the pattern is a bit more complicated than the ones I usually choose.

For both of these reasons, I decided I wanted to make something truly unique and special. My idea was to do a single Fiore on the diagonal and fill it with delicate and intricate tangles. I also decided that my circles needed to be very accurate. I usually have a collection of various sized caps on my desk that I use for templates. But, alas, I just cleaned up and the only circular object I had handy was a small spray mist bottle.

I used the top for the small circles and the bottom of the large circles. The proportion was completely wrong.

This caused my tangle to look nothing like what I had intended. For that matter, it looks almost nothing like it is “supposed to.” It is definitely a mistake. So, does this mean that it is not a Zentangle?

Instead of trying to “correct” it by doing the traditional tangles I had in mind, I went completely in the other direction. I used Creative Memories Precious Elements pens instead to make it bold and colorful. At first, I hated it so much, I wasn’t even going to share it with you.

But, after a few hours, I came back to it and decided that maybe I did like it, mistakes and all. I’m still planning on making one that will look more like the intended pattern, but, Rho, if you want to use this one also, you have my permission.

16 thoughts on “Can You Make a Mistake in Zentangle?

  1. I don't see your mistakes, but the one I am working on has plenty. I'm going to do another one and post both. I hope Rho will be able to pick on out of my two if not both. You did good.


  2. Jennifer, I guess that is because you don't know what it was "supposed" to look like. But, thank you. This is a special challenge, isn't it?


  3. You are welcome. It is not making mistakes that is a problem. It is only making the same mistake over and over that upsets me because it means I am not learning from my mistakes.


  4. I don't think you made any mistakes, you just went in a different direction than you thought you were going to go, and there is nothing wrong with that. Art is like that… it has a mind of it's own. I think your drawing is wonderful. 🙂


  5. Every time I teach Zentangle, I always say, "there are no mistakes in Zentangle!" That is always such a relief to beginners and encourages them to keep going even if they feel awkward for a while. After learning to do Zentangles, it is such a comfort to remember that, and every time I do something that didn't fit my vision, I may grumble, but I proceed and often it turns out to be the thing I like most. I love your Zentangle — it is a wonderful explosion of color and a feast for the eyes.


  6. The mistakes are in your mind only! this is terrific…it brings to mind a Native American blanket…and the circle of life…very appropriate for the occasion of this challenge!


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