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A Zentangle Village
How "Zentangle" got its name
Zentangle Store

Zentangle Kit

Zentangle Mosaic

May 31, 2017

When we developed the Zentangle Method , we dreamed of what it might become. Thirteen years later, so much (and more) of what we dreamed has come true.

One example of what is possible with the Zentangle Method comes to us from a remote village in China.

This story is an elegant expression of our original intentions for the Zentangle Method, namely that:
  • Everyone is an artist
  • It feels good to create 
  • It's fun to share your creations

This newsletter is all about that story.


A Village in China Learns the Zentangle Method

Zhengcui Guo, who also goes by Jan, is a Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT) in China. She received her CZT training in Taipei, Taiwan last year.

Jan posted a blog post about her recent trip to teach the Zentangle Method in the village of Bawen in Guangnan County in the Wenshan Prefecture of the Yunnan Province in the People's Republic of China.

We selected a few parts of Jan's blogpost for this article and added a few comments. When you are finished reading, please visit her blog to read all her words and see larger versions of these and many other beautiful pictures. There's so much more to read and enjoy. (Link below)


We often talk about how you can practice the Zentangle Method with a stick on a sandy beach at low tide. In this village they mixed a local red mud to tangle on their stucco buildings.

mixing mud


Jan wrote:


"This child is the grandchild of the home's owner. He is so happy to join us to create art out of his house. It seems the Grandmother understood what I asked, and helped the child know what needed to be done, although I don't understand her language. Art is beyond language, isn't it?"



Jan wrote:


" A heavy rain   forced me to another place, and I had the children stop to avoid the rain. But when I returned to hotel, I found the children were still there, for they didn't stop, they were still drawing. They had fallen in love with Zentangle."

Tangling in Rain


Jan wrote:


"The man pictured here with a straw-hat is the headmaster, who stood behind his students for more than half an hour, watching us. I asked him " Why not have a try? Your students can teach you." Finally he was happy to take brush to start his first Zentangle, but following his students. I made a joke about this to him, "Now the teacher is student, student is teacher". Children dare not to openly agree to the idea. But the headmaster agreed about this, for he said, "Yes, why not, you are your teacher's teacher".

Children and teacher


Jan wrote:


" We made a g roup photo with these tiny artists in front of our work today."

Happy Artists

At the end of her blog post, Jan wrote: 


" Our Zentangle Village Project just started, with a beautiful beginning revealing a great dream to decorate our life via art.

"Here, everyone is an artist;

"Here, beauty is returned to life;

"Here, art is beyond language, seniority, financial status, gender, occupation, age, region, ethnicity, national borders;

"Here, everyone is equal in front of art;

"Here, there are no limits in Zentangle."


Rick and Maria comment:

What a elegant expression of how art IS "beyond language, seniority, financial status, gender, occupation, age, region, ethnicity, national borders" and, religious beliefs.

The Zentangle Method creates this common ground because Zentangle Art is independent of language, age requirements, political views, religious beliefs or any other barrier that might separate us from each other.

Even though our name, Zentangle, has "zen" in it, we do not teach Zen or any religion. We teach how to create beautiful art with gratitude and appreciation. 

See below to learn how we chose our name.

Please take a moment to visit Zhengcui Guo's (Jan's) blog post and enjoy all her words and beautiful pictures.



Thank you, Jan Zhengcui Guo, CZT!

How "Zentangle" got its name

As soon as we got the idea that became the Zentangle Method, we knew it was important. To avoid interruption while we gathered these fresh ideas, we took a mini-vacation at a bed and breakfast in Western Massachusetts, blank book and pens in hand. We describe those special days in our first book, The Book of Zentangle.

On our last night there, after trying on many names, we still hadn't found one that fit. Although we did like the word "tangle" to describe our new method of drawing deconstructed patterns.

During that time we were both busy in Maria's stationery design business, Pendragon Ink, Ltd. We explored ways to reference that name because we use a pen to create tangles. So, we tried "Pentangle." But we rejected that because it was already in use and we felt it might be uncomfortable for people who have a negative perception of pentagrams.

Then, one of us said the rhyming word "Zentangle." It was like finally putting on a shoe that fits after trying on many ill-fitting ones. All at once, we both exclaimed, "That's It!" The name fit with Rick's background in meditation and Maria's background in art. The name also fit with our quick description of our discovery as a "meditational artform" because its easy to enjoy a relaxed focus as you draw. ( That having been said, we only teach the Zentangle Method of drawing. We do not teach meditation or any religion or doctrine.) 
So we did an online search for "Zentangle." No one was using it. "Zentangle" it would be! We reserved and began the process to register our name.

More fun trivia:
Rick meditated for years, although contrary to reports, he never practiced Zen or Zen Buddhism. But we do have fun saying,  "He's Zen and she's tangle." (And if you've met us, you know why! :-)


We are thrilled to see so many people from different countries, belief systems, languages, cultures and backgrounds create and share their beautiful Zentangle creations.

Hundreds of thousands, most of whom believed they could NOT draw, now enjoy expressing their creativity through the Zentangle Method. This will forever warm our hearts.

Thank you for being part of this uplifting adventure of discovering, creating and sharing so much beauty in this world as exemplified by Jan Zhengcui Guo's experience in the village of Bawen!

With all our Best Wishes,

Rick, Maria, Martha, Molly, and all of us at Zentangle

About Zentangle

The Zentangle Method is an easy
to learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns.

phone: 508-234-6843

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