Ever since I was little, I’ve always had a lot of trouble focusing. In high school, I would miss huge chunks of a lesson only do be brought back to attention by a teacher calling my name. In university, I would need to record all my lectures so make sure I didn’t miss anything important while I was inevitably daydreaming. Even today, I sometimes have to go back and reread a sentence 3 times until I actually pay attention and catch the meaning of it.
Where is my mind going during all of this? Honestly, I have no idea. I’ve always naturally been a very anxious person, who tends to think out every possible scenario of every little aspect of my life before anything even happens. Sometimes I don’t even have to be “anxious” about anything before my mind starts wandering, and coming up with ideas and thoughts at the speed of a mile a minute.
I’ve never had much of a concrete way of taming all these thoughts. Writing helps, but sometimes the thoughts just don’t want to be put into words! This is where doodling comes in.
I’ve been drawing and sketching completely abstract line-art in the margins of all my notebooks for as long as I can remember, almost completely absent-mindedly. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered that this may have been a way that my brain was trying to “eject” all of my thoughts onto a piece of paper. It was then that I decided to experiment with *deliberate* doodling. Doodling for the sake of doodling, if you will.
What I discovered? It’s actually extremely cathartic, and helpful at easing my mind even in the worst of times. It’s the perfect way to just shut off my brain for a couple hours, or as long as I need to, and just… draw!
Upon further research, I discovered that there were TONS of other amazing artists out there doing similar works. An art form referred to as “Zentangle” is sweeping across the web right now, and for several good reasons: a) it’s extremely easy and pretty much anyone with a pen, some paper, and working limbs can do it, b) it’s a great way to fight anxiety, turn off a stressed out mind, and even increase productivity, and c) it looks SUPER cool!
So HOW exactly do I make a Zentangle?
Well, the funny thing is, there is no solid answer to this question. You just draw! In fact, I find it easiest when I am not over-thinking it at all, which happens almost automatically, it seems. You can work in sections, or you can add little things all over the paper all at once. The great thing about this form of art, or even just art in general, is that it’s not just black and white (even though it is, literally, black and white, ha ha… you know what I mean!).
What supplies do I need?
A pen, some paper, and a free-flowing mind – that’s it! If you want, you can get creative with colouring and using other materials, but ultimately, it’s completely up to you! I used a fine-tipped sharpie pen (it’s about a 0.3mm tip) and a blank sketchbook. I also had a larger brush pen that I used to fill in larger areas at once, but that’s completely optional.
I can’t think of anything to draw! Where can I find ideas?
A-ha, see what happened there? You overthought it! Don’t worry though, it’s inevitable, once we start trying to do something and do it well, it becomes a contest, and we have to make it perfect. Just let that go! If you are looking for more inspiration though, google “Zentangle” on the web, or search Pinterest. There are TONS of patterns and styles you can look at and take ideas from! Often when I am working on a design in general, I get a lot of inspiration from looking at the works of other artists!
Finished a piece? Be sure to share it with me on Twitter or Instagram at @alexdorkward, I’d love to see your works of art! Visit my blog here.