Friday, January 04, 2013

The Book of Zentangle

I had an interesting experience a few months ago. I received a book in the mail, and I mentioned it to some co-workers. They were intrigued, so I showed it to them. I didn't think they would give it back! The book was passed around, everyone savoring the beauty found in it, gingerly turning the pages as if afraid of damaging the delicately delightful contents. The Book of Zentangle is an extraordinary book, one that can be appreciated by both Zentangle "muggles" (non-tanglers) and Zentangle enthusiasts alike.

Before I proceed, I must disclose that Rick and Maria sent me my copy of The Book of Zentangle for free to review, but my views on the book remain solely my own. 

Let me start with what the book isn't. It's not at all like any other Zentangle book on the market. It doesn't include a bunch of tangle step-outs, so don't expect that. What it does include is much more spectacular. Nearly every page features a beautifully rendered example of Zentangle, direct from the founders. Not simply the pen-and-ink drawings, but also paintings that interact with the pen-and-ink portions. You'll find tangled insects, seashells, shirt sleeves, windows, and China, just to name a few. Each picture includes a story, so you can see how the inspiration came about, what the meaning is. The written portion of the book is just as inspiring. Rick and Maria cover the basics of Zentangle, explaining the method and tools, and then diving into exercises and projects. Although you may be a veteran tangler, re-learning the basics can be a great way to grow. There may even be a thing or two you didn't know about the basics that you'll pick up. I know I did. My favorite part, and perhaps the most interesting, is the section on the origins of Zentangle. More detailed than anything else out there, it is fascinating to see how the paths of two people crossed, in the process crossing their individual experiences. The result is what we know today as Zentangle. Having this knowledge has deepened my appreciation for what we have today! Rounding out the book are stories from tanglers about how they use Zentangle and other interesting anecdotes, an index of tangle terms, and an excellent list of resources.

In short, I love this book. I've been tangling for two years and still got a lot out of it. Zentangle has become a community, and you can get lost to the true purpose of it all in the commotion of voices sometimes. This book will bring you back to why you started tangling in the first place. Reinspire you. Excite you. Focus you.

As they write in the book:

"Words are fun to play with, and we'll utilize them to bring what we love into focus."

Rick and Maria clearly had fun playing with words to bring us this book, and it does what they intended: bring what they love into focus.


  1. Oh Zach. What a nice review.
    I am curious. Are you a CZT?
    I don't see the CZT logo anywhere on your blog.
    How did Rick and Marie come to find you?
    I am not at all surprised you were asked to review the book because of the elegant and amazing way you use Zentangle.
    But I'd love to know more.
    I have toyed with getting the book (kind of pricey) but because I do not think a CZT training in Rhode Island is in my future, this might be a very nice option. Thanks for the review.

    1. I'm not a CZT - though I really, really want to be! Eventually I want to do a CZT trip fundraiser here on the blog, and see if folks would donate so I could take the trip and attend the training. Maybe after Disney!

      I actually contacted Rick and Maria and asked about reviewing the book, rather than the other way around. I think the book is worth the price. It's probably the next best thing to CZT training!

    2. I think you have talked me into ordering the book.
      And how gutsy of you to just go ahead and ask to review it. Go Zach.
      Why not!!!
      When do you leave for Disney?
      We had a GREAT day today close to 75 and sunny.
      But January is up and down and up and down.
      I am doing the 30 paintings in 30 days challenge right now. Whew.
      But as you say, you do get a lot of interesting comments from new folks. How fun is that!

  2. Superb review. I agree 100%.
    I do hope you'll be able to go to a CZT seminar. Some of the best money I've spent recently. It, too, is totally worth the cost. :)
    BTW, I also love your two videos. Not just the tangling part but the intro and ... outro? extro?

  3. "muggles" hahaha! and, zach, i thought you were already a CZT! let me know when the fundraising begins :)