Late last year, I was looking for mandala inspirations since I wanted to redo a mandala-ish creation from a long time ago to better resemble a mandala, symmetry and all. During my search, I came across the concept of Zentangle.
While I like the structure and symmetry that is naturally a part of drawing mandalas, I was also drawn to the freedom that comes with Zentangles. When I found TanglePatterns.com (hosted by Linda Farmer) that lists both official and user-created tangles, I used it as inspiration to try my first Zentangle-inspired doodling.
At first, my doodles were pretty small. I couldn’t confidently draw flowing lines, so sticking to smaller strokes felt better. I filled out my first page one small area at a time, and gained some confidence in letting my pen-strokes flow more freely.
I then moved to slightly larger areas. I experimented with tangling–which is more ‘defined’, and has some rules–in spaces that were as large as official Zentangle tiles. For this, I used the same sized page as before, and drew square and circular areas that conformed to Zentangle tile dimensions. I drew inside these areas.
Well, that felt pretty restrictive, and my drawing process was neither flowing nor relaxing. I decided to not follow these rules, and to just go back to using Zentangle patterns as inspiration for my freeform doodling.
I thought I’d try doodling in a larger area, and used one of my art journal spreads as a background. I’d made a spread a while back that I hadn’t liked much, and had wanted to add more layers to salvage it, so I used this spread for a doodling trial.
Of course, I drew on this page not in just one sitting, but in several sessions. And I loved how mindful and relaxed I felt during these sessions. Now we were going somewhere!
I went back to my earlier paper sheet (which is of a different quality of paper than my art journals, so I use it when I don’t utilize paints) and tried out a large doodle in multiple sessions. I found I not only liked how I felt, but that this session’s results could serve as a template–a loose structure–that I could base my future doodling sessions on.
So this is the general composition that I mostly go for these days. I use gel pens for drawing, and watercolors and oil-based pencils for shading. There are most definitely quite a few deviations, not just with the look (like my Diwali-2021 doodle), but also the page size (like my Inktober-2021 minis.) I’ve even added touches of doodling in other art (like in this art-journal page.)
I’d love to share my doodles (and mandalas) now and then, and I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as you do my other arty creations! 🙂