I have often said that my Zentangle journey has not seen me reach great heights in artistic abilities. I'm competent at drawing the patterns but am still totally wowed and amazed at what some true artists can do with shading, shaping, colours and contours. I promise you that I am not being self-critical here as that's not really my thing. I am really happy with some of my tangles but I think of myself first and foremost as a teacher. I really love to inspire people and see them fly off on their own wings of creation, whether as beginners or having a wealth of experience.
Doing the thrice-weekly (thrice is such an underused word) Instagram classes during the Covid-19 lockdown and quarantine has provided me with a lot of insight on how self-critical people can be at times. I've had people thanking me for the class but not publishing their pictures because they were 'not good enough'. To publish or not is a personal choice that I fully respect but please, all Zentangles done are 'good enough' because there are no mistakes, no errors, only the time enjoyed while you have been concentrating on the process. If the final result is a little inelegant, lines not quite straight, shading heavy, that is no problem at all. I have many tangles that I have done over the years - unpublished because they were done without thought of sharing - but I love to look at them all for a second, third, even fourth time, because the memory of when I did them, how I felt, where I was often comes flooding back, together with the calm of the moment. Don't underestimate the power of your memory! And sometimes, I've been inspired to give something another go.
If you think that your tangle isn't good, then try it again! Never give up, never surrender! (from a film, I think, but a good slogan according to some, me included) And in this post, I want to let you see why this is a good thing to remember. And maybe give you hope if you are just at the beginning of discovering Zentangle and think that your first attempts mean you are not 'good enough'.
In late 2013, a few months after I had started tangling, I felt brave enough to take part in the Diva Challenge, a weekly post organised and managed wonderfully by Laura Harm on her blog 'I am the Diva' Every week, she would offer an idea, some tangles, a theme or a string for us to come up with our own version. I think it was Challenge 145 that suggested using the new Zentangle pattern, Quib. I bravely had a go. It reminded me of a jellyfish, a medusa, some sea thing. So I tried to create this. I share this with you only to encourage you to NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER SURRENDER. You have been warned. The image below may be offensive to some...
If you are prone to self-criticism, I hope this makes you feel better. But to be fair, I had never used colour before and I have got the basic idea OK.... I tried and I did it and I remember being fairly impressed with myself. I published it, for goodness sake! I look at it now with great fondness.....and some amusement.
I must have had some critical artistic sense though, because I did return to it a bit later that same month (November 2013), having looked at some work of other people and having turned my original idea around in my head a bit. And I was so pleased with my second attempt that I have returned to this format and these tangles several times over the years.
Can you see a little improvement here? I think there may be a bit!
And on Monday this week, week 7 of lockdown, I decided to return yet again to this combination. And I have been blown away by some of the wonderful tangles that people have shared. Some are obviously from people new to tangling, still finding their own style, some who have reproduced my own teaching example so perfectly that I can hardly tell which is mine! And others' who have turned my concept into something so sublime that I can hardly believe it. This happens after all my classes but the Quib/Purk combination has a history with me as you can see, and I have been inspired by the inspiration felt by others. Although there were many wonderful and spectacular tiles posted on Instagram following the class, one person has demonstrated exactly what I am trying to say here - that you do what you can, you look at it and think, oooh, if I did it again, I could do ....this! It's by Elena Malikova, known as Petrusika on Instagram. She is the most wonderful artist in every sense and am so grateful that she followed my class and produced first, the most beautiful version of my instructions.....
And then! The inspiration part - she went back to the tangle and did it again and this is the one that totally blew my mind! Isn't this just wonderful?
So please! Never give up, never surrender. If at first you judge your work and find it wanting. Give it another go. You may find inspiration in your 'mistakes'.
Thank you for reading!