We don’t have any certified Zentangle® instructors at the Seed, although there is plenty of talent and creativity to fill in the gaps. Using available books, YouTube clips and ideas from each other, the staff has come up with several innovative ways to “tangle.” The kindergarteners started with small squares of paper with a line or two for suggestion and created their own lively patterns. 2nd-6th graders made a US map with different Zentangle® patterns for each state. They assembled small art books with random blobs of paint, stickers, stamps and personal writing. The paint blobs were an open invitation for tangling. Colorful collages made of cardboard, acrylics, tissue paper and photo clips will also receive final touches of lines drawn over the underlying textures.
Personally, I love drawing Zentangles® because they slow down my process. During the time it would normally take to make several small collages, I am now making one. Adding in the details helps me pause and reflect on what I’m trying to express. It is an invitation to work more mindfully and linger with my art in a deeper way. It reminds me of the difference between quickly looking at my hand vs. really seeing the complex system of lines on my palm. There is an often-missed experience available when we give ourselves the gift of time to stay with something a bit longer.
I can’t say that doing Zentangles® with a group of children produces the experience most typically associated with meditation. It’s not quiet or calm or a time of fostering inner peace. However, it does bring forth considerable focused concentration as young artists talk and draw their lines. It also gets them excited about their drawing, pushing the edges of their comfort zones as they make beautiful art. Our summer program in general gives children and teachers a wealth of slow-down time. The pressure to keep up with the pace of the regular school year is set aside, and art takes center stage. It’s why I love our summer art camp so much; kids have days and days to explore their “anything’s possible-ness” one stroke at a time.