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  • Lynne Kornecki

It Doesn't Take Two to Zentangle -- ha! Here's How to Turn Repetitive Doodles into Meditative Art

Updated: Jan 3


ZENTANGLE design by Starla Snead. See more designs below...


Sometimes creativity appears as an unexpected key to better navigation through life’s challenges. Such was the case for Starla Snead when she faced a perfect storm of anxiety, depression and health issues. Custom calligraphy and engraving were keeping her busy as a successful home-based business, but it was Zentangle that actually turned her life around.


While looking for patterns online to add to a calligraphy project, she discovered Zentangle and was instantly hooked. “I literally Zentangled my way out of depression,” Starla recalls and as a result became a certified Zentangle instructor in 2013.


She studied directly with the creators of Zentangle -- Rick and Maria Roberts -- a married couple who reside in Rhode Island. Starla explains that because Rick was a former monk, he’s the ZEN, and Maria a calligrapher, she’s the TANGLE. They offer many patterns on their website that are free.


“I liked their mission of helping others, especially with anxiety and depression and keeping calm,” Starla added.


So, what exactly is Zentangle?


The explanation below is from the (Zentangle) website…


“The Zentangle Method is an easy-to-learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns. We call these patterns, tangles. You create tangles with combinations of dots, lines, simple curves, S-curves and orbs. These simple shapes are the "Elemental Strokes" in all Zentangle art. These patterns are drawn on small pieces of paper called "tiles." We call them tiles because you can assemble them into mosaics…

As you use the Zentangle Method to create beautiful images, you likely will enjoy increased focus, creativity, self-confidence and an increased sense well-being.”


Starla’s workshops and classes before the pandemic shut down were well attended. She will soon be scheduled to start teaching again at Gallery 200 in West Chicago, IL.


“If you can hold a pen or pencil in your hand, you can Zentangle," Starla likes to say.


The beginner class teaches five patterns using a 4” x 4” paper tile. No special equipment is needed, and students use a pencil or pen to complete the project. She offers a series of six classes that progress in difficulty. Eventually, students will Zentangle a tee-shirt, drawing their pattern directly onto the fabric using special markers.


“There are no mistakes in Zentangle,” Starla explains. “Everyone has their own style using the repetitive strokes. It’s only a mistake if you stop -- just keep working on it. What was thought to be a mistake will actually become a unique part of the final design.”


For more information about Starla, her art business, and Zentangle classes, visit her website:

Designs by Starla – Custom Calligraphy & Engraving Services


One of Starla's classes along with the patterns she teaches.


A repurposed Lazy Susan has been Zentangled by Starla and turned into an attractive wall clock!


Talented artist, engraver, calligrapher, and certified Zentangle teacher, STARLA SNEAD.

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