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Doodling and Tangling

I've come to realize that there are two main areas of art that really click with me. The first is crafting. I love to create things by hand. I love the challenge of learning new skills and figuring out how things are made. This very blog is a result of this obsession. The second area is surface design—creating decorative patterns and images. A few years ago, I became interested in the ins and outs of pattern design, and I had a bit of an "Aha" moment. It's not like it's a new concept or anything—surface pattern has been around since, like, forever—but I had never really explored it myself. Once I did, I was hooked. I found that it really suited me. As a result, I've become very fond of doodling, as it's a natural way to explore and create patterns. Now I draw everywhere and on anything...

IN sketchbooks, ON sketchbooks, 

on shoes, eggs, rocks,

Post-it notes,

and even myself.

I draw big or small,

on paper, on my phone and tablet, and on chalkboards.

My friend, Kathy Schillemat, was aware of my love for drawing and introduced me to Zentangle. For those of you who are not familiar with this, it is a form of focused doodling that allows artists of any skill level to create beautiful, intricate designs. The philosophy is "Anything is possible one stroke at a time." Of course, I fell in love with it instantly. Here are some examples of my Zentangle designs:

I love how you can find inspiration for creating patterns from all around you, especially from nature. Kathy, who is a bit of an outdoor enthusiast, created these wonderful pieces by doodling on dried shelf mushrooms that she found on dead trees while hiking. I love how unique these are and how they tie together nature and art.

I'm finding that Zentangle and doodling is becoming more and more popular. There are some great resources if you are interested in learning more. The official Zentangle website is a good place to start. I also found a whole display of kits and supplies at my local craft store (pictured below). And there are plenty of books out there. I recommend Joy of Zentangle. It covers the basics and has step-by-step instructions for lots of individual patterns (or "tangles"). I also love that it doesn't have a lot of "exercise pages" that you might find in other doodling books. (I'm not a huge fan of buying a book where half of it is blank pages.)

I've created some free downloads as well. The first is just some general advice and ideas to get started. The second is a worksheet for creating a floral pattern, which is my favorite type of pattern to draw. Enjoy!



Doodling Basics

Floral Pattern Worksheet


This is a great resource for those interested in surface pattern. This site includes a free digital magazine and various courses on the subject.

Learn more about Zentangle here.


From my art and illustration website:



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