New news in a Zentangle New Year

“Life isn’t about finding yourself; life is about creating yourself.”~George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright

February 14th was Valentine’s Day. My husband and I had evening plans in Detroit, but snowy weather and a busy week for both of us changed our minds into a snuggly day together. We went to two different local coffee shops and played a total of FIVE Yahtzee games. We ordered take-out from Palermo’s, a pizza place we haven’t eaten in for entirely too long. We drove to Penn Theater in Plymouth and also picked up an extra-large bag of popcorn so we could enjoy some new DVDs at home movie-style.

As such, I almost missed this blog post because it published on Valentine’s Day. Thanks to my friend’s email, my news is officially official.

Seriously, it’s exciting Zentangle class news. Check it out here. Go ahead. It opens in a new window, so I’ll wait.

Love it, love it, love it! Since I’ve began attending in 2007, Mega Meet has opened up to the new and exciting everything. Scrapbooking has transformed over the years into something beyond matted pictures and precut stickerss on colorful paper. I blame–or thank–some of that to the popularity of Tim Holtz, a man who met an unspoken need in the market: artsy scrapbooking and art crafting.

My class is the best of all worlds: Zentangle techniques, creative simplicity and repurposing old items. It’s a great mixed-media technique, and I am thrilled that the organizer, Kate, has been open to such amazing class suggestions. In the past years, some of the more popular classes have been the mixed media classes such as art journaling and book binding. People know how to put pictures to paper; now there’s a craving for something new. I’m excited to teach this class. Seeing my name next to a class like this is always as exciting as seeing my name in print, whether it’s one of my books or my Michigan Scrapbooker Magazine articles. The class is unique, combining an artform I’ve fallen in love with the drawing artform that started this whole journey.nd is something that a combining of an artform that has caught my eye with my drawing passion.


This is a great way to start the New Year. I discount January somewhat because I was sick and unfocused for most of it. February has been the cool month–and the cold month, so I’m dreaming of the spring Blue-White game.

So it was serendipity that this week’s Diva Zentangle Challenge #205 is to use inspiration from the Chinese New Year. The Zodiac sign for 2015 is the sheep. Taking a cue from Laura’s tile, I pulled out a pre-strung Zendala tile. Yes, Zendala. It’s not been my favorite Zentangle medium, but this week is was fun to rediscover it. I chose tangle that began with the letters S-H-E-E-P. Turns out there are five spaces in this tile, so away I went.

Shattuck – Huggins – Ennis – Evoke – Purk. It was actually fun to work on a Zendala again, although part of that made be the pre-strung aspect to it. It was a simple string, flowed well with just a few tangles. I felt a pull towards red, so I used my Inktense pencils to play with color shading.

If you’re in Detroit for Mother’s Day weekend, be sure to check out this class. It blows my mind that the scrapbooking community might embrace such a class in this public venue once again. I can’t wait to share this with students. My friend who sent me the email exclaimed that this is DEFINITELY one of classes she plans to take. That’s an honor: my friend is taking my class for the technique and not just because we’re friends.


Remember the good times

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”~Confucius, Chinese philosopher

Playing games. Stylin’ a new haircut. Stuffed animals and Slurpees.


Always send spontaneous happy texts or make surprise phone calls.

A bird on the back deck. Coffee and coffee, then throw in a little more coffee. Toss in a little writing and a smidge of art, and you have a recipe for fun days.

At the Crux of a Zentangle

“I am, indeed, a king because I know how to rule myself.”~Pietro Aretino, Italian poet

Happy Monday. Yes, it is a happy Monday here for sure: our new air conditioning unit is installed, working and now the weather is too cool to use it. Gotta love this Michigan weather.

So starting off the week right is the Diva Zentangle Challenge #175. We are so close to the 200 mark it’s hard to believe. Right around the start of the New Year we’ll hit that milestone.


Tangled contrast

This week, just like every first Monday of the month, is a Use My Tangle (UMT) challenge. This time, Henrike Bratz shares her tangle Crux.

The grid tangle has the feel of Bales, but this one is trickier. Once you make a grid, you make a larger square out of the smaller squares. That tripped me up the first time. I’m sure I could have worked with that, but I chose to leave it as is and move on.

I’ve been in a black paper mood, so I worked on that, drawing strings of interlocking circles from my travel cup’s lid. Working with the gel pen added an extra element of challenge to this, but it also added a striking contrast. I almost didn’t want to shade the finished art.


Diva 175 shaded

However, I had chosen some tangles that really use shading to finish the tangle, so I went ahead and shaded. My finished product is a little bit softer, more rounded. I rather like the unshaded one more, but then I do like high-contrast tangles.

I like it. What are your thoughts?

Interview with the Zentangle

“Think in the morning, act in the noon, eat in the evening, sleep in the night.”~William Blake, English poet

Today we interview a special guest: the Diva Zentangle Challenge #173 tile.

Wolfhowlings: Good morning, Zentangle Tile. How are you on this Monday morning?
Zentangle Tile: Good morning. Well, it’s Monday. That in itself is a challenge.

Wolfhowlings: Yes, it is. So tell us, what is this week’s Diva Zentangle Challenge?
Zentangle Tile: This week features a Guest Post by CZT Sharla Hicks. It’s called “Redux, Remix, Revisit”


The beginning of the Challenge

Wolfhowlings: Sounds intriguing. Tell us more.

Zentangle Tile: This challenge is to take two familiar go-to tangles and combine them with an unfamiliar one, or a tangle that you’ve struggled with.
Wolfhowlings: And how have you approached that?
Zentangle Tile: Finding the go-to tangle was the hardest part, as I have so many favorites. Stuck in a rut, I suppose. My first familiar one was Tipple. I tend to draw it with out the “sparkle” and just as a swirly circle; that’s what makes it fast and fun. I challenged myself to mix sparkle and unsparkle Tipple. That added an extra zing to the familiar aspect.


Blue highlights are added as exploration continues

Choosing the unfamiliar tangle was super easy: Assunta. It has Cadent tendencies blended with Bales-esque look, but I can just never get that looking like the step-out. I never have, so I tend to ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist. Until this challenge.

I realized that the Zentangle needed some contrast, so go-to tangle #2 is Rain. Zendalas tend to be challenging for me, especially being square, so I worked a circular string into the mix and took off from there.

Wolfhowlings: What did you think of the process?
Zentangle Tile: Okay, Assunta confused me, and it was off the first time I did it. Since I was using a circular, Zendala-type string, I had another section to work in. The tangle was less off the second time, and having just done it, I was more in the flow. The flow was there because I had to move slow to get it just…well, to have it look more like the step-out pattern. Tipple was fun, but adding the sparkle element took me out of the flow because of the stop and start. I couldn’t get my sparkles even, which still gives it a nice look, so I’m glad I played around with that. Rain is Rain. Love it!

Wolfhowlings: Your finished result is certainly unique. Tell us about the color.
Zentangle Tile: Sharla used blue in her Mooka tile, and trust me, it was hard not to use Mooka because it is another go-to tangle. I don’t use color much, but I plan to take my Derwent Inktense pencils to tomorrow’s Tuesday Tangled Lunch, so I added that element to play with. I was inspired by Sharla’s blue.


Zentangle Tile: Challenge #173 complete

This was a fun, sloppy mess. I was concerned about getting the shading just right, just subtle, but those Inktense pencils do have a bold opinion about how things should be, and that was to infuse intense color. So I mixed a few blue colors, four altogether, and just kind of swirled them all together. It took on a life of it’s own.

That’s Zentangle for you. I had to just go with the colors unintentionally mixing and oddly blending. I let go of my expectations and just decided to have fun, much like I’ve heard finger painting is. At some point, though, you have to set the pencil down and say, “I’m done.” That letting go is sometimes the hardest. I’m still learning that.

Wolfhowlings: For sure, the final result is stunning. Any final thoughts?
Zentangle Tile: Thank you for the compliment. That’s always a delight to hear. Can you see the subtleties? Can you make your own interpretations from it? It’s all about exploring and playing.

Wolfhowlings: Well, thank you so much for your time today. Perhaps you’ll be willing to come back another time to share you thoughts and perspectives?
Zentangle Tile: Oh, absolutely! I look forward to it.

How was today’s first Zentangle Lunch event…?

“What you plant now, you will harvest later.”~Og Mandino, American writer

My first Tuesday Tangled Lunch at Hobby Lobby was a success! The event was exactly what I wanted it to be.

First of all, someone showed up besides me. Not bad considering modest promotion. I expect future attendance to be strong because in less than two weeks, customers have taken all of my flyers. I have fabulous exposure to the employees because the classroom is in the back, right next door to the break room. One woman stopped in twice to ask about classes and these Tuesdays, disappointed that she and her friend would have to wait two weeks for the next one.

What’s the format for these lunch gatherings, you ask?  I set out a variety of my work for show-n-tell and inspiration. You show up and eat (or not) and play with stuff. That’s it.

Kim has taken several of my classes. She showed up with her previous Zentangle projects to show and an idea for what to work on today. She brought the heart template that was part of my MegaMeet I {Heart} Zentangle class earlier this month and planned to do her first black tile using that heart as a string.


Kim’s first white-on-black tile:
I {heart} it!

Here’s where the inspiration to have these lunches took off. Casual sharing and mutual learning experiences.

I offered her the use of my pens. She worked on her black tile while showing me her very first Zentangle from a demo years before she took my class. We talked about her experience then, the instructor and the materials that were used. I learned a lot from that.

Kim showed me her completed black tile and made a comment about the open space. She liked it but wasn’t sure it felt complete. She asked for suggestions, and my immediate response was to aura around the inside space. She hadn’t thought of that.

This is why it is beneficial to take a CZT-taught Zentangle Basics course before exploring advanced techniques. The books available are marvelous resources for ideas and inspirations, but a class provides a solid understanding of how to make the most of them. People may think that it’s “just” drawing and they can leap right in. But if you did not have a CZT explaining what an aura is and ways to think about it and its use, then you would not know to consider an aura because you don’t know its purpose or its effect. Kim understood and appreciated this.

To use her example as a figure skating teacher, you don’t just step out on the ice Day One and expect to be taught a Triple Salchow.


Spinning in circles: my Diva #169

I offer these lunch events to have causal, unassuming discussions about the process. To introduce Zentangle and the process to others. To explore. To share. It’s not a class, but I do show up with a project or prompt for everyone to launch from.

Today’s plan was to work on the Diva’s Weekly Challenge, one reason I chose Tuesdays as the day for these lunches. Kim had looked up this week’s Zentangle Challenge #169–to use circle strings–and she admired the concentric rings Laura did. Kimtalked about ideas she had after seeing that. I had a different string in mind based on inspiration I saw in a book this weekend–at a bookstore in Canada, no less! Interconnecting circles. I showed Kim how she could use a common item like a travel mug to create different size circles by using the lid, the cup base and the lip of the mug. She had never thought to create a string like that, but now she does.

Our discussion branched out from “just” Zentangle to family memories, creating websites, seasonal activities, and buying a house.

All of this came from my first lunch event. And I didn’t bring home all of the cookies I brought as the snack. *whew!* Just imagine what future lunches will inspire.

Earth Day in a Zendala

“Only do what your heart tells you.”~Princess Diana, British royalty

I did it. I gave in. I had to do it: an Earth Day Zendala. On Earth Day. Woot!

I’m not “into” Earth Day as a new movement because I have always recycled and find it hard not to do so. My college roomie and I kept a cardboard box under our dorm frig to collect bottles and aluminum cans in. When I lived in Delaware years ago, my area did not have mandatory curbside recycling. My husband and I kept two separate trashcans in the kitchen for recycling cans, glass and paper. We physically hauled them to a community wide recycling center, an out-of-the-way drive for us. It took extra time and space to do this, but could not not do this.


Earth Day Zendala celebration

Living in Michigan, we get a deposit return for aluminum cans, so recycling here is a vicious, mouth chomping novelty. We get grocery store paper bags when possible to save our paper scraps in, recycling them at the local school for them to earn money based on the weight collected. If we go shopping and forget our canvas/reusable bags, we return all plastic bags to the recycle bin at store. Old batteries present the largest challenge, but we have a zipper baggie full of them when we find a bin.

I’m enough into Earth Day to complete another Zentangle, this time a Zendala, following my gut instinct from the other day to represent the circle of Earth. I finished the tile with Derwent colored pencils to have more control, and the result is a lighter, happier version of my first one. I’m pleased.

Happy Earth Day…today and every day.

Hey, Zentangle and poetry go together!

“Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.”~John Barrymore, American actor

I seem to be focusing on Poetry Month more than I expected. No one else on my Writers Group blog, Deadwood Writer Voices, discussed poetry, so I did in my recent post. You don’t have to be a deep, serious writer to enjoy the blog. If you like playing with words or enjoy reading, you may find interesting perspectives over there. Potty Mouth by Vicky is quickly becoming my favorite post.


A tangled Heyku haiku

I continue having fun with the smartphone app Heyku, something that started before April and will continue long past this month. There is an amazing group of writers and artists weaving words into images. The app community, ironically or not, just celebrated its One Year Anniversary last week, and suggestions for naming the swan are ongoing as of this post. One delightful new feature is the option to add “doodles” to your poem. I have introduced some people to Zentangle, which is even more delight-full.

I share most of them on Instagram, so I invite you to join me at dwhirsch for the latest and greatest. There’s some random images thrown in occasionally, so don’t miss the fun.


A Beauty-full haiku

The haiku to the right, “Beauty,” is how I often think of my Zentangle art. A lot of people do, I’ve discovered; self-conscious of their work when comparing to others. Yet our work is beautiful, a self-expression, and we allow our inner editors to overly critique our artwork. There is no need for that, which is easier said than done.

I feel restless about my contribution to this week’s Diva Zentangle Challenge #164 is all about Mother Earth. I wanted to achieve soft poetry in my image, but it does not flow as seamless and smooth as my mind’s eye had hoped for.


Diva 164: Earth Day 2014

I did not listen to my instincts to create a Zendala; instead, I created a Zentangle garden with earthy tangles. I wanted to use my Inktense pencils, but I need more practice with them. The tile turned out darker and sloppier than I wanted, which was disappointing. Trying to grab some beauty from it, I see a tropical rainforest in the muddle. I like that perspective, yet I may do that Zendala later in the week. I’m not a true fan of Zendalas, but that project excites me.

Always listen to your heart, those immediate thoughts, and when you do, beauty will flow.

Happy St. Tangles Day to you

“It’s not easy being green.”~Kermit the Frog, TV and movie celebrity

It’s Monday. The snow is melting. There is actually some green grass under all that kicked-up, street-brown snow.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.


CZT Guys Finse and Snufflet Dance

I think this first snub at that punky Punxy Phil’s ominous forecast makes me cheerful. I wish I’d been less down-dooby-doo-down-down for last week’s Zentangle Challenge. The thought of lines upon lines upon lost lines coincided with a snow spiral, and I was gloomy for no particular reason. I’m clearing photos off my camera (still), and I wish I’d found this one last week. Not only was this Zentangle Challenge #100 completed in the coffeeshop Espresso Royale–the only best part of University of Michigan–but the art is tangled in the journal sent to me from Laura as part of the Blog Friendship Cup. The photo and the memory itself makes me smile and would have put me in a better frame of mind.

I’m not Irish; I’m German descent on both my parents’ sides. I don’t look especially good in the color green, although I can stylishly pull off a fantastic forest-y green at Christmastime. Green bagels look moldy. I know no one, male or female, named Pat. To top off the morning, I don’t like beer except when it’s battered in bread. Hmmm…it’s been awhile since I baked…okay, back to the post, which just demonstrates that I don’t have a reason to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

Until now.


Zentangle: green mania!

The Diva’s Zentangle Challenge #159 celebrates the occasion with a St. Patrick’s Day-inspired Zentangle. I was feelin’ lucky, so I took inspiration from the idea of a four-leaf clover. If you look, you can see it. And if you look, you can’t see it. Love that duality! It’s another excuse to dance with my Derwent Inktense pencils, and I created a wash of just about every green color I had, shading with the dry pencils afterwards.

Mentioning both “coffee” and “clover” above makes me think of the Starbucks reserve blend coffee blends and the Clover brewing process. I didn’t go out for coffee today, but I do hope the baristas did not color it green.

Zentangle and conquering fear

“When one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”~Rosa Parks, American activist

If you missed this weekend’s 2013-CandyGuys-ForOct31BlogPost Halloween Blog Party, the festivities are still swinging. Stop on over for some spooky fun. The Guys saved some chocolate for you…I think….

This week’s Diva Zentangle Challenge #142 is appropriate for the week of Halloween: complete a Zentangle of something you fear.

Coloring inside the lines is my artist block. I like free-flowing my tangles to interweave with each other. Where does one start, does another even end?

That’s why I struggle with Zendalas. Patterns are generally neat, repetitive, contained, defined. I like to drive with the heat on in December while the window is rolled down so the wind whips my hair.  I am not contained.

Yet, I like the familiar. I only teach Zentangle tangles in my classes, and as I work to master them, I don’t make much time to explore tangles created by other CZTs. I limit my creativity, but I make the excuse that I must master the “official” ones before moving on to master others.


Fear conquered: Diva #142

Hence my contribution to this week’s challenge: a Zendala playing with non-Zentangle tangles. Mostly.

Staring at the blank Zendala tile intimidated me so I filled in some spaces with Tipple. Now the tile was no longer blank and I free to move outside my comfort zone. I kept space open for Keeko, which I had planned to add, and then I went to and randomly clicked on the alphabet header to choose tangles.

The CZT-created tangles I used here are: Dugwud by Anita Roby-Lavery; Gewurtz by Linda Farmer; Ionic by Margaret Bremner; C-scape by Sue Olsen; Zenplosion Folds by Danni O’Brien; and Hurakan by Carole Ohl.

What did I learn? Heck, I had fun. I struggled with some of them, but a whole new world opens up to me.

How do you work with your fears? Leave a comment; we can all learn from each other.

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