How to Find Tangle Patterns for Zentangle and ZIA
Zentangle® creators, Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas, have shared a plethora of tangles (patterns) with which to create Zentangles or Zentangle-inspired art (ZIA). However, while they are beautiful, after a time, you notice that your drawings are looking like a zillion others and, frankly, it becomes a little dull. The best way to make your Zentangle art look different is to design your own patterns. You can probably use your own imagination to develop a few, but there are plenty of places to look to find unlimited inspiration. It's also fun and ever so slightly addictive, as you realize you are surrounded by patterns. Use your camera or smart phone to record likely ideas and you can even carry a notebook if you have time to sit and doodle a few designs when you are out and about. Here, then, are some suggestions to help you find those tangles.
I am not going to post images of every suggestion – there's not enough room on the page for that and also, I think it's important for you to go and find your own rather than using 'ready-made'.
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Tangle Inspiration Around the Home
The first place to start is right where you are. While looking around for Zentangle ideas, my gaze lit upon my bookcase. As I looked I could see the books made quite an interesting pattern. I started scribbling down a rough design and lo and behold, there was a very usable tangle. You will see it used in the final ZIA on this page but you would never recognize it as books. As you incorporate your 'found' tangles, they will morph and change... and so they should. Your creativity will step in and transform them into your own unique style.
Check out your house plant leaves or look in your yard. Even your child's toys can throw up some ideas. A really good place to look is your closets – examine the print of a shirt or blouse in detail, don't just look at the overall pattern, I find that it is often the individual elements of a design that hold the most Zentangle potential.
Don't forget the TV either – sometimes you will catch a glimpse of an interesting pattern that's just asking to be tangled. Having live TV pause is so helpful. I have infuriated my partner many a time when watching a movie by pausing and then trying to take a photo of a likely looking wallpaper.
Wander around your home with a small sketchbook or camera and really look at objects to see if they inspire a tangle pattern. Don't think you will find any? Okay, look down at your keyboard. Can you see a tangle right there? I can. Here's my sketchbook page showing my experimental doodles of my laptop keyboard.
Tangle Patterns in Architecture
Buildings are a rich source of tangle ideas. Look at these great Mediterranean-style roof tiles in the photo. They make a brilliant tangle design for a border or narrow area in your drawing. You don't have to keep to the rigid row format either. Let your tangle experiments wander around the page. Try out different ideas. What looks wrong in one format might look completely right if you add some curves or figure out how to make it turn corners or circles.
Check out walls and windows, pathways and sidewalks. Look at drain covers – some have intricate cast designs. Keep your camera handy. It helps a lot if your camera can take reasonable macro (very close range) shots. I use my smart phone camera and it does the job well.
Books to Inspire Zentangle Pattern Ideas
A bible of ideas for Zentangle patterns. There are so many brilliant designs. It is even possible to find several tangle patterns in one sample photograph.
This one is exciting - there are so many patterns in nature to inspire Zentangle designs. Not only that, the book is so beautifully written and photographed you will love it as a reference in its own right.
Zentangle Inspiration in Nature
Zentangles are everywhere in nature. Go for a walk and see what you can see. I have a folder on my computer with lots of close up shots of tree bark, leaves, ferns, flowers, moss and anything else that takes my eye. While we on that subject, why not use one sketchbook as your tangle library – then you can turn to it whenever you need inspiration.
The beach is a good place for tangles – shells and pebbles, and how about that wave pattern that is forming near those rocks as the tide comes in? Don't forget the man-made influences – ice-cream cones, that cast iron balustrade on that lovely old house overlooking the beach or how about the edging on a beach umbrella? Boats! Lots of tangles there – nets, chains, sails and rigging all supply tangle opportunities. Oh... I just went off nature and into something else.
Vegetables are good sources of inspiration. Look closely at the produce in your fridge. You might be surprised at the variety of tangles they indulge themselves with.
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