Frequently Asked Questions About My Zentangle Inspired Art

There are unlimited ideas for stretching our Zentangle experience to larger works of art and adding to our treasure chest of creations and moments of artistic pleasure and relaxation.
Lose yourself in fine lines and intricate tangles or go bigger and bolder. Depending on your mood.

Relax and allow Zentangle to be your guide, keep to the basic principles and enjoy the process of adding your own touches of colour and medium.

Here are the answers to questions often asked about how I create my Zentangle Inspired Art.

Do I draw a string?
Yes, a string is a wonderful foundation to build on, a few squares, circles, spirals and curvy lines soon grow into something unexpected.
Do I have a plan?
Not usually, I like the element of surprise. Most of the time ideas form after drawing a string. I prefer to go with the flow and avoid expectation and disappointment if the plan goes haywire.
Extra tip!
I like to keep my favourite tiles to expand into a larger format.

Do I worry about making a mistake?
No! Of course wobbly bits happen (that’s life) but they soon disappear into the big picture. Keep going, focus on the good bits.

What paper do I use?
I like a nice thick water colour paper, bamboo is good and lately have been enjoying Lokta paper.

What type of colour pens do I use?
My favourites are the Pigma Micron pens in sienna and brown and for extra colour Faber-Castell Pitt artist pens. I like adding just one or two shades to make decisions easy.

Do I use a template?
Only when drawing circles. I know we should appreciate what we create but my unbalanced wonky circles look a bit dodgy so I like to use jar lids, small bowls or plates.

How long does it take to create a ZIA?
Many hours of focus and joy!! I am happy to leave a large sheet of paper on my desk or kitchen table and add a stroke at a time, 15 minutes here and there, sometimes 15 minutes disappears into an hour.


  1. Shelly - I've just spent some time skimming through your blog - more often than not, I spend ages looking at, and learning from, the posts that come to my gmail account. However, this time I thought I'd dig a bit deeper!

    You may have answered this before, and I just zoomed over it - but were you "an artist" prior to learning about Zentangle? If so, what was your field? And how did you learn about zentangle, and where did you learn your tangles etc before you became a CZT? Who, or which blogs, inspired you most?



    1. Jakki, thank you for asking and 'no' I wasn't an artist but I would say crafty as in sewing, crochet, knitting, scrapbooking etc! Christmas 2009 I came across Sandy Bartholomew's article about Zentangle in 'Cloth Paper Scissors' I became instantly addicted. When I looked up and found Maria's sensational style I printed all the past newsletters and tangled everyday from then. Other than Maria and Sandy, Carol @ 'Open Seed Art' and Margaret @ "Enthusiastic Artist' have inspired me the most.

  2. shelly - i am so glad to hear i am not the only one that uses 'help' when it comes to circles! if it's something small like tipple or onamato i free hand it, but when it's a larger scale - out comes my circle template. and, yes, i also use bottle caps, empty tape spools, jar lids from my kitchen. i've even used a bracelet before. thanks for putting this in your Q&A :)

  3. Very interesting post, Shelly. Circles are notoriously difficult (impossible?) to draw freehand. There's a story about the artist Giotto, who received a message from the Pope, who was looking for an artist to commission for a particular piece, asking him to send an example of his work to display his skill. Giotto simply painted a circle so perfect that there was no competition - he got the job!

    Most of us, alas, are not Giottos. A circular template or a pair of compasses has to suffice!!


  4. I just "happened" onto your blog, and I am loving your tangles! I can't wait to get home and try some of these! Linda

  5. I really love what you do with ZIA ! I have tried a couple in the last 6 months or so and I find I approach them in the same way as a tile I think, I just 'start' with one of my favourite tangles and then it kind of takes over and starts wandering! I too use circle "helpers" for the big ones! I also tried one with lots of colours, but although it looked OK, it almost gave me a headache trying to decide what colour to use where! One or two, as you suggest is plenty.

    1. Thanks Sue, I love the way one tangle wanders, as you say, and with a few twists and turns another tangle appears. I like to call it 'freestyle tangling'!

  6. Can I admit that I also sometimes use a ruler for long straight lines? (I don't evenwant to talk about circles!) In order not to look too "perfect" I draw them in pencil with a ruler and then trace them freehand in pen. This gives me reasonably straight lines that don't shout "Look at me!"

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful art and giving us a safe place to admit that we need a little help sometimes!

    1. Tip: if you use smaller tiles, making straight lines and good circles is easier.(At least that's what I've found) Also, people are more impressed when you pull out a piece of artwork that is on a 2 by 2 in. piece of paper!

  7. Thank you for sharing all your inspiring work. Your work is just awesome! I'm so glad I purchased your book, Today I will Tangle. I look at it often!!!!! I wonder if you could tell me the name of a tangle you used at the top of the Tangle Patterns E-Book 2016. It has sides that build outwards with descending lines and an open middle with tipple inside. Hope my description is good enough. Thanks for what you do!!!!
    Laura Emler, CZT17 Ohio, USA

    1. Hi Laura, thank you for your kind words and purchasing my little book I'm so pleased you like it. The tangle you are referring to is probably 'abundies' by Hanny. Here is the's a beauty!

  8. Does it matter the size of the paper? Does it have to be 3" square?

  9. Hi Maxine, of course you can tangle on any size paper or fabric or anything actually, then it is called 'Zentangle Inspired Art'.
    Thanks you for asking