“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.” Henry Ellis

A large part of the magic that is Zentangle can be attributed to serendipity.  Each Zentangle is a little surprise when it’s done.  The outcome is not pre-determined.  In fact, my most beautiful works are those that have evolved naturally.  Where I relinquish my need to control myself and my environment.  As I spoke with a new Zentangle enthusiast after my class last night, I realized that though I have learned to let go of the outcome, I do maintain some levels of control.   He asked if I planned every tile because they all seemed to be very deliberate.  While I don’t ever see the end result, I do take light and dark, scale and harmony into consideration as I choose my tangles for a tile.  All those design principles pounded into my head at LSU have become a part of my DNA I suppose.  He explained that he was having a hard time with the string and I understood perfectly.  Sometimes the string can be a real challenge when starting a tile.  While you rarely see the string in a completed work, the string is what binds the individual parts into a pleasing whole.   My suggestion was to have his wife draw the string and he would work with whatever came.  Hmmm…an insightful moment courtesy of a student.

My CZT training was in February and at that time I purchased a set of ensemble tiles.  These are sets of 9 tiles that are pre-strung.  The intent is to create each tile independently and then re-assemble into a completed work.  I was struggling with strings at the time and this seemed a wonderful idea.  So why have I avoided working with this set for so long?  I only completed my first set this week.  As I spoke with my student, I realized that completing this ensemble had been an exercise in letting go for me.  Embracing the intent of the set, I shuffled and completed each tile randomly – never checking to see how they might look together as a completed “tile.”  I couldn’t judge what tangle might look nice next to another or if I had too much or not enough contrast.  The only bit of control was in my decision to only use each tangle one time for the set.  Yet there it was, a wonderful compilation when I was done.  Maybe I should let my husband draw my next string.