School of ART News

Where Critical Thinking Meets Creative Expression

Zentangle: Art’s Happy Place

by | Apr 12, 2017 | School of ART News

There is something so pleasing about the simple act of coloring. Some people would call it a “zen” experience, losing yourself in the soothing motions and patterns. This probably explains why adult coloring books have broken out as a stress reliever and mood booster in recent years. You can’t walk down a check-out aisle at Target or Wal-Mart without seeing a few. In that same family, but slightly more freeform, you can find Zentangle art. Like the coloring book craze, Zentangle is a newer phenomenon. It began about 13 years ago by two artists in Massachusetts and it is the act of creating images through structured/repetitive patterns. While it is easy to parallel the two art forms, Zentangle is different in that it usually lacks color which makes the end results look more like an abstract coloring book page before you start to color.


Let’s talk “zen”. The word makes you think of Japanese rock gardens, yoga mats, and meditation. Zentangle gets the name from that meditative feeling you get when going through the process. There are countless benefits from that type of mental state, relaxation, focus, and problem solving to name a few. At an educational level the benefit of this art form grows. Whether you are looking for a way to improve your child’s handwriting or hand eye coordination, or you are an adult who has completed all of the Sudoku books you can find and are trying to maintain a healthy brain as you age, Zentangle is an expressive way to reach these goals.

So how does it all work? Zentangle follows repetitive and simple steps to create complicated and diverse works of art. The strokes are deliberate but the end result isn’t necessarily planned.  Instead of erasing a stray mark or “mistake” it becomes a part of the creation. That “mistake” is the basis for an unexpected image. Are you still curious about how art can be both deliberate and unplanned? We would LOVE to teach you this summer at our Zentangle camp.