On Overthinking

This week’s Diva Challenge really struck a chord with me. If you haven’t read it, she talks about attitude while tangling. There was a big discussion over on the CZT Facebook group about the difference between tangling for relaxation and tangling to make something pretty, or Zentangle vs. ZIA.  Just like the difference between tangling and doodling, the difference is in your mindset. It’s what you are thinking about while you are tangling. Are you letting go of expectations and just enjoying the feel of your pen on the paper and the marks as they appear? Is the outcome a surprise? That is tangling as envisioned by Rick and Maria. Are you thinking about design, composition, and the result? This is Zentangle-Inspired Art.

At least for most of us.

A few years ago, I took a class from the uber-talented Cherryl Moote whom I first met in CZT-5 training. She gave us a list of design principles that would help us make our tangled garden more pleasing. She then explained that trained artists who have been practicing many years have these rules so firmly ingrained that they can follow them (or not) without conscious thought. I’m sure that when Maria tangles, she gets into her “zen mode,” otherwise there would be no Zentangle. But as a lifetime artist, even if she isn’t thinking about the result, it is most certainly art.

I strive to get to that state.

Sometimes, especially when I’m working on a book, I let my inner critic get the best of me. I can be so paralyzed by this that it is often hard to get anything done. So, when Laura challenged us to let go and just tangle this week, I was excited (and a little scared of what it might look like.)

It felt good to start deliberately without worrying about the result,  and I am so pleased with how it turned out.


It was nice to discover that I can make something pretty without constantly thinking about the result. Perhaps after nearly 6 years of Zentangle, some of those design rules are beginning to sink in!

I’m off to California in a few hours  for a retreat with another CZT-5 alumni, Sharla Hicks. When I come back, I shall know how to “dance with petals and leaves.” How fun does that sound?

9 thoughts on “On Overthinking

  1. Yes, Cris, it’s something I just knew in my knower but could not quite express. In days gone by, I have doodled. (Quite well, I might add.) With training, I have tangled. (No mistakes there.) To the untrained eye, sometimes the outcome looked very similar. Both had dots and lines and curves and such. Both had perfs and auras and even Hollibaugh effects – though one gave creative names to so many wonderful things while the other did not.

    But I knew the difference in each method. It was in My Mood. My Feels. My Thinking. Call it My Zen?

    Thanks for a great blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have enjoyed reading the thoughts that this challenge brought up. Most of us, especially those of us with training in the “proper” use of Zentangle, can relate to this issue. It was nice to spend some time enjoying the relaxing powers of tangling without the stress of completing something beautiful. However, I think we all found that beauty emerges anyway. Nice work.

    Liked by 1 person

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