Zentangling: Ice Cream for Mindpain

aditi zentangle2

I often admired these precise lines and curves that were being shared on a craft group. They looked so inviting and psychedelic yet gleamed of a calm. I learnt that this art form was called Zentangle.

Zentangle is an art form that uses a lot of different patterns, some that even appear to be three-dimensional. It requires the artist to start with a border and then fill it up without any prior set idea of what it should look like. There is no erasing and fixing in zentangle and there are no mistakes, just put pen to paper and if you’re like me, chew your tongue and tangle away.

The first time I zentangled, I used a ball point pen and kept pinterest open to learn new patterns. Ball point pens are so painful to zentangle with. I switched to a gel pen half-way and was able to find grip and control on my lines and curves better. In the chaos of multiple patterns and learning, I found a moderately pleasing piece of art looking back at me.

By my third zentangle, I was no longer using the internet to experiment with new designs. I had favourite patterns and had even invented my own patterns. It was relaxing to just let the pen flow and pour out all the confusion in my head. I think the best part about doing this was how the symmetry of things didn’t matter. Mistakes didn’t matter. When I felt it looked ugly, I’d scratch and squiggle over it and turn it into something else.

My last zentangle started with an ink stain on the paper. I drew borders around it and then just continued to draw more and more borders. Then I added waves and voila, in those random lines came through a new world. I added blues to the waves and completed it.

I still struggle to just waste an entire day zentangling, but work has been a hurdle and more so, after doing it for 6 hours one evening, I could barely straighten my hand. But with the pain came such great satisfaction. Not having a complete picture to live up to really takes the pressure off trying to be a good artist. No matter what you do, you will always end up with something you will be proud to file. And most importantly, there is no better art form that truly relaxes you. There is no science to it, there is no structure and there is no competition. No two zentangle artworks will ever turn out exactly the same. Even if you do make 5 flowers on a page, the entropy of it will truly reflect not just nature but also the nature of our anxious and depressed thoughts.

They call it yoga for the brain. I’d think of it more like ice cream for an ulcer. The cold is soothing and pleasant, but there’s a brain freeze involved, much like the addiction of zentangle may freeze your muscles for a few days. But apart from that minor inconvenience, it’s all good, much like ice cream 🙂

  • Aditi Surendra

I’m Aditi Surendra, 29, living in Bangalore and freelancing as a writer and graphic designer. I love Karaoke and have music constantly flowing through my veins. I enjoy solving puzzles and learning the most trivial facts on earth. I occasionally draw and love my colouring book. Give me an unlimited supply of soup and train tickets and I’m set for life.

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