Friday Fun: Tangling

Feeling some stress? Well, some say coloring can help. There are adult coloring books for sale, and Andersen Library supplies coloring pages on a table near the Circulation Desk. But how about drawing your own lines instead of just coloring within someone else’s? Try “tangling!”

Tangling is creating abstract drawings that use a few repetitive patterns, kind of advanced doodling but with a mindful method or process to it, and with no attempt whatsoever to represent actual objects (i.e., you don’t need to be a talented artist). The act of tangling is meditative as you focus on making one deliberate stroke at a time. If you really get into it, later you might add color to your projects, or even “tangle” on objects. But to begin and use the process for meditating, trace a 3.5-inch square on paper and then, within the square, lightly (so that it will be invisible when your tangling is done) draw a free-form “string.” Examples of strings are available online. Then draw repetitive patterns in the spaces created by the string. There’s an online list of official tangle patterns that you can use. You also can look at the newsletters at the Zentangle┬«, Inc. web site (see especially the ones that mention “New Tangle” in the contents).

I strongly recommend reading “How to make a Zentangle” (at Wiki-How), “What is a Zentangle?” (by Certified Zentangle Teacher Linda Farmer, who also created the string and pattern pages linked above), and “On understanding Zentangle” (by Sandy Hunter, another CZT) to get started.

There are Library resources available for learning more. Through Research@UWW, UWW students or staff can use the free UW Request service to borrow these books from other UWs: Totally tangled: Zentangle and beyond and Zen mandalas: Sacred circles inspired by Zentangle. There also are articles on the topic of adults using coloring as stress relief, and not all are supportive. Read, for example, “Why adults are buying coloring books (for themselves)” at The New Yorker web site, and “Color me trendy” (Publishers Weekly, 8/3/2015, vol.262:no.31, pp.26-27) about the phenomenon of adult coloring books sales.


Thank you, Anne, for bringing this to my attention.

Note: The Zentangle® art form and method was created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas and is copyrighted.

About Barbara

I am a Reference & Instruction librarian, head of that department in Andersen Library, an associate professor, and a member of the General Education Review Committee and Faculty Senate. I've been working at UW-W since July 1, 1990.
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