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Tied and True: The Transformational Art of Tangling

Tangling is such an interesting art concept to me. It mixes sketching and doodling and can turn a plain drawing into an elaborate, textureful scene. I made up the word textureful, but I think it fits since tangling is about building on the realistic to produce something more interesting and dramatic (or at least patterned) than what you might see in real life. So consider that some word tangling.

Tangling can take a simple fish, bird or plant sketch and turn it into high fashion. Seriously. Look at this beautiful flux pattern and tell me you can't imagine it adorning a certain designer's umbrella or scarf or duvet cover.

how to entangle

As I looked through The Art of Tangling it actually made me sad such beautiful and elaborate creations might be confined to a sketchbook or page margin doodle. But then the bonus project! The author shows how a tangled pattern can be translated to a picture frame with simple paint pens. How cool would it be to take one of these beautiful tangling projects and adorn a frame or piece of furniture to display in your house?

how to draw zentangle

This art form is beautifully practical and theoretical. In the introduction, author Penny Raile talks about where to look for tangling inspiration. Her words are priceless, and I love the way she approaches the world around her.

"Tangling inspiration comes from everywhere: crumpled tin foil on a sidewalk looks like a circus elephant; a pattern on a coffee shop wall becomes a perfect background for a tangle … My eyes constantly wander, which sets my mind wondering all sorts of things … The only thing I can't imagine is life without the joy of art."

how to doodle zentangle

What have you seen lately that would make an interesting tangling project?

To see more tangling artwork from Penny Raile visit her websites: or Facebook page:

Heather Linder

Heather is a journalist and writer living in Chicago with her composer husband and art-loving puppy, Lancelot. She's on an endless quest for the city's best coffee and is endlessly inspired by Chicago's magnificent skyline. Heather is a bookworm, aspiring chef, and NPR fanatic. She's in the process of teaching her beagle to use a French press and overcoming her fear of DIY.

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