Throughout the 2019 year, the Upper St. Clair Township Library has welcomed certified Zentangle teacher, Mary D’Angelo, to explore the Zentangle method of pen and ink drawing with a room full of eager participants. Zentangle, a meditative drawing method, is a worldwide phenomenon that uses five simple marks. Anyone who can print or write his or her name can experience the joy of learning this art form, while creating something uniquely their own. The process helps preserve brain health, lowers anxiety, and provides a special kind of social interaction.
Mary has been “tangling” since 2013. As a lifelong professional artist, she was fascinated by the beauty and complexity of the designs created from simple repetitive strokes. Ironically, she chose to learn Zentangle to persuade her husband, Bob, to learn a new hobby. He was preparing for semi-retirement and had no plans to fill his free time. Now, six years later, even though she is certified herself, Mary and Bob continue to participate in classes taught by other Zentangle teachers.
While the Zentangle method can be practiced anywhere and alone, the social interaction offered from a class is one of the things that draws people in and keeps them coming back, class after class. “Since I began teaching last fall, I’ve been privileged to interact with the most diverse and fascinating people from all backgrounds in a welcoming and supportive environment. Truly anything is possible, one stroke at a time,” said Mary.
When asked about why she became an instructor, Mary said that “after hearing many people rave about the training seminars led by Zentangle founders, Rick Robertsand Maria Thomas, it became my impossible dream.” She never thought she would become a Zentangle teacher, but to her amazement, the founders of Zentangle, Inc. offered two scholarships worldwide and she was honored to be the recipient of one of them. The gift encouraged her impossible dream to come true! In October 2018, Mary headed to a special Zentangle retreat in Rhode Island and learned from the masters how to lead others in the method. Soon after becoming certified, she began offering classes of her own.
This past spring, I decided to see what Zentangle was all about and signed up for the class offered by the library. When Mary arrived to class, she found a room full of women and men of varying ages. Once everyone was settled and had their materials (provided by Mary for those who didn’t yet have their own), the participants got comfortable, putting their feet squarely on the floor and taking deep breaths, in and out. During the breath “out” cycle, participants were encouraged to “let it all out and clear your brain.” For the next two hours, we would leave behind the real world and carefully follow the creative steps taught by Mary.
Upper St. Clair resident Millie Hutchison said she enjoys Zentangle because she can “find a relaxing way to challenge myself while having satisfying fun.” Even though the room is filled and everyone is following the same step-by-step instructions, everyone is doing their own thing and concentrating on their own drawing. As the two-hour session drew to a close and participants shared their similar, but unique and personal creations, I admired the diversity of the various finished products.
The Zentangle class meets 1–3 p.m. on alternating Wednesdays of each month in the library’s multipurpose room. Although each advertised program is a five- or six-week session, each class is a standalone session and the inexpensive materials are available in class.
Are you interested to learn Zentangle? Online registration is suggested. See page 32 for the session that begins December 11.