Zentangle Art – Meaning, Use And Design Patterns

Today I will offer you all the information you need about Zentangle art, seen that it is very popular and also a very good way to meditate and relax. I’ve chosen this theme especially because it is closely related to mandala art.

Art is the deepest expression of human creativity and I believe it is also the best way to discover the essence of life!

So let’s see how we can do that with “tangles”!

What Does Zentangle Art Mean?

Zentangle Art

by yael360

Zentangle art is an original drawing method invented by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas.

The best definition for Zentangle is, of course, the one offered by the founders themselves:

“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.

Zentangle art is non-representational and unplanned so you can focus on each stroke and not worry about the result. There is no up or down to Zentangle art. If fact, you can most easily create Zentangle art by rotating your tile as you tangle, always keeping your hand in a relaxed position. You don’t need to know what a tangle is going to look like to draw it. You just need to know the steps. The result is a delightful surprise.

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.”

This is the original definition for Zentangle Art, but, of course, the artists passionate about this method each added a bit of originality, so the Zentangle method became a true art movement.

People started to fill shapes like animals, objects, geometric figures, mandalas etc with Zentangle patterns and the results are just stunning!

The word “zen” is about meditation, the pure consciousness of being in the present moment and the word “tangle” means doodle, ornament, abstract.

Zentangle art became so popular because:

  • it is easy to learn
  • it is easy to draw
  • it is fun
  • there are no pre-planned outcomes
  • there are no mistakes
  • you always know what to do next
  • the result is unexpected and beautiful
  • everyone can do it

I believe every human being is an artist in essence, he only needs to discover himself. Art is not only drawing, painting, singing, or dancing. Art is everything we do with passion, love, imagination and by adding little pieces of our souls on everything we touch.

Art is the main law of nature and we are the biggest part of it!

Zentangle Design Patterns

Here are some basic Zentangle design patterns:

Zentangle Patterns

by yael360

Using these and many other from your imagination you can create any shapes and designs you want. There are infinite possibilities!

Zentangle is abstract art, but you can always combine it with realistic elements and original ideas, as follows:

Zentangle Art

by yael360

Zentangle Art

by yael360

Zentangle Art

by yael360

Zentangle Art

by evellii

Zentangle Art

by artwyrd

Zentang Art

by artwyrd

Learn How To Create Zentagle Art

To create Zentangle masterpieces, same as for mandalas, you don’t need any specific skills. The main source is imagination and the main goal is meditation (enjoying the moment).

For the ones who are passionate about coloring, there are good news: you can make your own drawings and patterns to color. Don’t let the fact that there’s drawing involved intimidate you!

Zentangles are created with repetitive patterns and are meant to be abstract. Above all, they’re supposed to encourage mindfulness, intuitive thinking, and empowerment by proving that you too make beautiful works of art.

Here are some tips to start:

  • filling a sheet of paper with abstract patterns without thinking too much, just letting it go naturally
  • choosing some realistic or abstract shapes to fill by trailing some guiding lines
  • create your own original patterns, it really doesn’t matter how common, non-artistic or childish may seem, the result will be a masterpiece anyway and you will feel relaxed, free and complete.

It has the same calming effects as coloring, but involves drawing and this is a very cool way to switch up your creative routine. That’s all you have to know! Just let yourself draw!

Here is a video from YouTube with an example of how to draw Zentangle. The author is Dewi Arjaya. Enjoy!

About The Founders Of Zentangle Method And How Did All Start

The founders of Zentangle Method are two Americans, the artist Maria Thomas and her husband, Rick Roberts which was a monk for many years.

Maria creates art for a lifetime now and this method just came out one day, when she was normally working on her drawings. She started to fill her drawings with patterns and she felt quite differently than usual. She described feelings of selflessness, timelessness, effortlessness and a rich immersion in what she was doing.

Her husband, who practiced meditation for many years just realized it was a form of meditation.

They combined then the word “tangle” with the word “zen” and so it started the whole story about Zentangle Art.

Here is an interview with the founders:

Mandala Vs Zentangle Art

Mandalas generally have one identifiable center point, from which emanates an array of symbols, shapes and forms. Those could be animals, objects and many other things that make a mandala unique and the representation of one’s path from creation to evolution.

The fact that there must be a center is not a random rule. The center point represents the deepest part of our inner self out of which everything comes out: all we live and all we are.

A mandala contains a whole existence and a whole universe.

Zentangle art is characterized by easy patterns combined that form abstract art. It can also have realistic shapes filled with tangles and here is where mandala and Zentangle art may intersect.

Mandala Vs Zentangle

by artwyrd

Both have the same goal, meditation, and both may have the same patterns, especially when we have a circle filled with patterns from the center to the outside. It can be a mandala because has the unifying center, but it can be also Zentangle art, because it has the specific tangles.

I also have to mention that the original mandala is the one that monks create on Buddhist rituals and while non-Buddhist people believed it is only a part of a ritual, Carl Jung fully understood the concept and brought it to Europe with all the real and deep explanations.

The creation of mandala is not only a ritual so it doesn’t have to be made the same way the Buddhist monks made it. It has to be a representation of self, so it has to be original.

Then people started to draw mandalas in ways they felt, and from the original form made with sand, it became an entire artistic movement. It started to take different shapes and include different elements. It also started to be confused with other art methods, as Zentangle. It has become a very large product area, but let’s not forget the original and the real concept!

Mandala can be a cat, can be an elephant, can be everything, but it can never be only a product or only a decoration item!

I try to remind people this every time I get the chance, because I hardly believe we must never replace the unseen truth with tangible things that have neither consistency, nor permanence.

The Zentangle Tool Set That I Recommend

If you don’t have any black markers or tools you can see the Zentangle tool set of 12 on Amazon (on the right). It is a high quality product and the price is good as well.

I hope you found my content useful and if there is anything you want to add or ask about Zentangle art and mandala, feel free to leave a comment below! Blessings!



  1. I really enjoyed reading this article because I am an artist myself, however, I am not very conversant with zentangle art. I think I came across it in my secondary school days. I used to make some African abstract drawings ut not Zentangle. It’s a shame that I did not make a career out of my art talent. The patterns you shared are really awesome! They could find some modern day application in epoxy floor finishing or on wall tiles. It came as a surprise to me that the founders of this unique art form are actually Americans. I would have thought it originated in the orients. In your article, you mentioned that it is easy to learn, but don’t you think some measure of creativity and natural endowment are necessary to create really awesome master pieces?

    • Hello, Phranell!

      I think it is never too late to try again with your art talent. Through art you can offer something unique to the world and, at the same time, it is an amazing way to know yourself better. 

      There are already people who decorate their home walls with Zentangle or mandalas and this thing is spreading to the world every day, so I think in the future it will be even more popular.

      I believe, based on my experience, that a man which has a natural endowment can be ovetaken by one who may not be so talented, but he works harder, it doesn’t matter what the field is. At the same time, I believe every human being is an artist at heart. 

      I’m happy to see you enjoyed my post and thank you so much for your comment! Blessings!

  2. Thanks for this beautiful art work. Art is is life. The more you appreciate it the more you like it. I began to love art work when I met an artist and we became a close friend. After then I began to love his paints and sometimes he will tell me the meaning and the inspiration behind his paints. Although I’m hearing the word Mandala for the first time maybe because I came from Africa. But I love the art work. I love the inspiration behind Zentangle art. The couples are legends today. 

    Nice art work. 

    • Hello there!

      Yes, art is life. Each one of us has a different path, so, sometimes, this path doesn’t intersect with art, but if it does, I think it’s a blessing. I had nothing to do with art, until I descovered mandalas. 

      Thank you so much for your comment and I’m so happy to see that you enjoyed my post. Blessings!

  3. This is a fantastic post! Just the description of how to create Zentagnle art makes it sound incredibly relaxing and stress-free because you don’t have to worry about what the end product looks like. The patterns you showed look magnificent and simple yet creative at the same time.

    I know Mandalas well as I have a colouring book filled with them and it is so relaxing to just colour without worrying about the stresses of life. It’s pretty great that there are tools to help you design Zentangle art which will make it even more relaxing because free hand can sometimes be a problem for people who think they can’t draw. 

    I am excited to try it for myself!

    Thanks for sharing this amazing post!

    • Hello, Renton!

      Drawing or coloring mandalas (or zentangle) is a kind of meditation, that’s why it makes you feel so relaxed. This happens, because when you’re focusing only on the patterns you draw as an expression of self and as they come out naturally, it seems like time stops. You don’t care about how it’s gonna look in the end, because you know it will be awesome anyway, so you’re just focusing on the moment “now”. That’s it!

      And yes, professional tools makes your artwork look even better, so it becomes even more satisfying in the end, when you see the drawing, so I think it is an important aspect, if you want to take this seriously.

      Thank you so much for your comment, Renton! Blessings!

  4. I use Mandala and I was not aware of Zentangle. I find it creative and relaxing activity and of course meditation.  I appreciate the tips provided to start creating your Zentangle.

    I encourage my children to use Mandala and I saw improvements in regards to their concentration. Thank you for your recommendation of the toolset and for an educative article.

    • Hello, Dany! 

      Yes, this kind of art has a lot of real benefist as: concentration, calm mind, self control, increasing imagination, the will to create and, in the end, a more balanced and positive life.

      I’m happy your children use mandalas and also I’m happy to see you found my article useful. It means I’ve reached my goal: to help people.

      Thank you so much for your comment, Dany! Blessings!

  5. Anna,

    I have never heard of Zentangle Art before, but it sounds like a good way for me to relax and regain my focus.  I’ve never been particularly good at drawing or doodling for that matter, but sometimes I feel like I need a way to settle down and relax.

    Zentangle sounds like a good way for me to do this.  I’ve always believed that everyone has a good poem, book, song, or artwork within them.  They just need a way to release it.



    • Hello there!

      You are so right! Each one of us has an artistic part, and, usually, what I love the most is to take it out from people, so they can see it and enjoy it. So have fun! I’m sure you will create amazing drawings!

      Thank you for your comment, Ellen! Blessings!

  6. Wow! this looks like something even I can do despite the fact that I can’t even draw an egg lol and the pictures look so beautiful, I wonder if mine will turn out exactly like that or I will some how find a way to mess it up. This is a very helpful article. thank you for giving me hope in my artistic ability.

    • Hello, Rose! It doesn’t matter that you can’t draw. If you try this, you will see that actually you can and with time you will become better and better. I can’t draw neither, but I love my mandala and zentangle works.

      Thank you so much for your comment, Rose! 

  7. Hi! Thank you for this great post about Zentangle art. Yeah, it really feels relaxing and I’ll give it a try! I like the fact that it seems really easy to learn. And it’s a way to express our creative side. And beyond the work we create, I like the artistic satisfaction and personal well being that creating art brings. Thank you very much!

    • Hi, Henry! Yes, it is relaxing. Give it a try. I can guarantee you will never regret it! 🙂

      Thank you so much for your comment! Have fun and blessings!

  8. I found this to be a fascinating article on Zentangle Art, a brand new term for me. That is not to say that I have not seen examples in many parts of the world, I most certainly have and in diverse locations too. It is just that I was not aware of what is behind it. No more, I know now, thanks to you!

    It seems to me that almost anyone can get involved with this and make it a hobby, or even sell some of their creations if they are looking for that as an outcome. More likely will want to use the technique for their own homes or for friends, or for their own peace of mind, if they are into meditation.

    Most certainly the examples you have provided are quite beautiful, and they seem like they have been done by a master of his or her trade! My drawing skills are not the best, and I never thought that with some simple designs, I could create something like this too.

    I can see how Mandala and Zentangle tie into one another, they do have some similar characteristics. It is interesting that the two founders of Zentangle had sort of the same things in mind, as in using the art as meditation or meditation therapy almost. 

    Thanks for introducing me to something new today, I will be checking out the links you have added to see if I could not get into this myself, I am more than interested!

    • Hello, Dave!

      Mandala and Zentangle art are still new concepts, but very appreciated or even loved by the ones who have discovered them. I am sure they will become very popular, and what I do specifically is to remind people it is more than some sort of blending patterns and to make them aware of the benefits those two bring.

      Oh… and about mastering… if you try to do some of these, you will be amazed of how master you are! 🙂

      I’m so happy you enjoyed my post and thank you so much for your comment! Blessings!

  9. Very nice post about Zentangle. I like to draw to switch off my brain. This kind of drawing looks very relaxing and the result is looking good, so I will try it at home. Meditating and relaxing is very important to me, so I will give a try to this too.

    It was very useful that you pasted the interview to your post. It helped to understand it better. Thanks for this article.

    • Hello, Gno!

      Yes, I recommend you to give it a try, you will feel like meditating.

      Thank you for your comment and also thank you for your positive feedback. You have no idea of how much I appreciate it. Have fun and blessings!

  10. I’ve seen this art pattern several times and only know the name by now. Is this the same pattern that you can find at Indonesian traditional cloth ‘Batik’?

    I agree that looking at zentangle art feels calming and reassuring. Really fit with the ‘zen’ in the name. I notice that most of this pattern use single or duo color. Will it be confusing if the pattern has multiple colors? Thank you for your information

    • Hello, Alblue!

      Zentangle art is very similar with the Indonesian batik, I see. Maybe the two founders of Zentangle were inspired by the Indonesian traditional batik. I don’t know that and it is not said anywhere, so who knows? 

      Even if this is true, it is still obvious that Rick and Maria took it to another level, which is amazing. 

      And about colors, you can use whatever colors you like and also all of them at the same time. There are no rules, actually. So, have fun with tangles!

      I’m happy you enjoyed my post and thank you for your comment! Blessings!

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *