art journal · Zentangle

To Plan or Not To Plan

To plan or not to plan, that is the question. I’ve been doing Zentangle for almost 5 years now, and so am quite used to starting art with no plan. I love sitting down with just my string and tangling and being surprised by the result. It is so relaxing. But, like the Diva and so many others, I have been lured by all of the Zentangle Inspire Art, especially the gems. At this time of year when it is so gray and gloomy outside, these little pops of color are like tiny rainbows of cheer.

They are beautiful, but they also take SO long and require so much planning. If you saw last week’s post, you know I am doing an art journal again this year. So far, at the three-week mark, I am still keeping up. The three entries are half as many as I produced all last year. I spent most of my time lurking in the facebook journal group, but I think I must have learned something because this year’s pages look a lot more like art journals.

Here is week 2: “Rules of the Road, by royal decree.”

A distressed “old map” that I printed off the internet   provide an old-world feel to the bejeweled Bijou tiles that contain  the rules this year’s journey.

I started with a gem on the a Bijou tile, but did not leave enough room for the directions of the compass rose. Poor planning. Not a huge deal, but it did stress me out because I really liked the gem, but not what it was attached to.  After some good advice from the other journalers,  I cut it out and pasted it to another tile. Problem solved and the rest of the layout was so much fun.

Week 3: “Year of the Butterfly”

Lack of planning really bit me here. If I had started with the background  and worked forward, I probably would have been done in half the time. As you can see from the photos, this page went through quite a metamorphosis. I easily spent 15 hours on these pages.  Click the pictures to see the captions for the whole story.

Back to the Diva Challenge.

After spending all weekend on my butterfly pages, it was a nice change to be “challenged” to just doing basic Zentangle tiles. I decided to do some samples for the beginner classes I’m teaching this month.


I can’t wait to see my students’ faces when they take home something like these. It is the best feeling.

25 thoughts on “To Plan or Not To Plan

  1. Thank you, Chris, for showing me ( and all of your followers) that you have struggles, just like us. I love that you show all the steps & don’t just put in the ‘good’ ones. The end result is stunning, as always, & this is a great lesson in how to fix something.

    The tiles for your class are beautiful. Oh, how I wish you were nearby so I could take your classes.

    Thanks for the great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks LindyLu, I’m glad you find it helpful. Yes, I struggle. Same as all artists. I always tell my students to keep going until you like it. Sometimes it is easier to just toss things when you don’t like them, but you learn more when you work through the problems. All art goes through an “ugly” phase. Some of them just have longer ugly phases than others!


  2. Your butterfly and gems must have made your weekend go by quickly. GEMS do take forever to truly make a priceless piece. That’s why we call them GEMS! I’m so glad you took the time to explain your thought process and let everyone know we should preplan our pages. A wonderful article and as always beautiful work. Thank you for sharing, Debbie Sagan, CZT Miami, FL

    Debbie Sagan, CZT


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Kate. I have my journal sitting right by my desk to remind me to work on it in little bits of time. I’m hoping that will help. As I said, last year I managed to do only 6 pages. Stay tuned to see how it goes this year.


  3. How often do you do a journal entry? There is so much work in this page that I can see how easy it would be to fall behind. As always, I see your work and want to go away and try it myself. On this occasion,however, I know myself well enough to NOT start a journal – I’d only manage two entries at best!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The prompts are once a week. For these two pages, I did a little each day. Each of the bijou only took a quarter hour or so. I think I spent more time finding the map! Distressing and background was again maybe half an hour, so that page didn’t seem too bad as I spread it out over the week. The butterfly was a different story. I spent 1.5 hours just doing the colored pencil on the right hand side butterfly. I only know that because I did it while watching “The Wedding Date.” After that, I lost track of time. My theme for the year is journey because I am giving myself permission to wanter, backtrack, and take detours.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Whilst I admire your journal pages in all their colourful glory, they only show how good the plain black and whites can look when they are so beautifully drawn.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Like the basic tiles that you created. I agree that it is good to enjoy the simplicity. Does not mean cannot do other things but having that base is good. Like the journal pages. I have not tried gems yet. It is on list of to-dos.


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