Lessons for life in the artistic process

I have always loved to draw- when I was growing up, I had dozens of sketch books filled with drawings of horses and cartoons. I would rent large textbooks full of years worth of Peanuts comics and learn how to draw Snoopy and his friends. My mom (a talented artist) would give me drawing lessons while she cooked dinner and would enlist my help with her continuos stream of art projects.

And then life got in the way.

I went to school for engineering- the sensible thing to do if you want to pay the bills- and became an engineer.

I rarely drew for 8-10 years. I felt like a part of me was missing. My creative side was not being exercised.

Then I found Zentangle! And I fell in love.

photo of my most recent Zentangle tile

One struggle that I have often had when I sit down to draw is knowing WHAT to draw. Sometimes a blank sheet of paper can be extremely intimidating.

But Zentangle offers just the right amount of structure to get over that hurdle- and then it’s all freeform and fun.

I usually use a few of the Zentangle designs, but then I try to make them my own with slight changes, or even incorporate new ones- either from my imagination or from fun shapes and designs that I have seen out in the world.

I have found that it is a calming practice.

And the remarkable thing is that I have learned a lot about myself as an artist and have gained a lot of confidence. I have learned to trust myself and the artistic process.

This has occurred mostly because I rarely like how the piece looks until I’m almost done! Nearly every time I start the tile, I’m thinking in my head “Oh no. I don’t like this. I screwed it up. How am I going to make this work?”

But I stick with it.

And EVERY single time, I LOVE the end result. I work with my mistakes and things that I don’t like and I transform them into something beautiful.

Isn’t that a great lesson for life?

To keep a positive attitude (at which I obviously am not perfect) and make the best of things?

That anything is redeemable- you’re the only one who’s in the way.

What things do you do for yourself that increases your confidence and resilience? Do you ever surprise yourself?




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