{Z} Let’s Zentangle!

A Zentangle tile that was gifted to me recently
Yes, it’s a real thing! The Zentangle® method was created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas and is an easy-to-learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns. It increases focus and creativity, provides artistic satisfaction, and an increased sense of personal well being. And all you need to get started is paper, pencil and a black pen.

If you look up Zentangles on the internet, you’ll find some stunningly intricate tangle designs. Although they look really complicated, they are actually very simple and easy to do. The best way to start is to cut out a square from cardstock – whatever size you’d like, though the official Zentangle tile is a 3.5 inch square. Draw a string. This is basically a random line that creates an area in which you will draw tangle patterns. Start filling in tangle patterns in each area. It’s as simple as that!

A word about strings

A Zentangle tile that was gifted to me recently
A Zentangle tile that was gifted to me recently
Strings are always drawn in pencil so that they disappear into your completed Zentangle. They provide the foundation that can help you to create a completed Zentangle without over-thinking or planning the process. Think of it as the container for your tangles.

It can be difficult to come up with strings – especially when you’re just starting. Tangle Patterns is a fabulous resource to find string patterns.

A word about tangles

Tangles are slightly more structured doodles. And there are tons and tons of patterns available online for free. Again, Tangle Patterns is my go-to resource for finding amazing tangles. There are also a lot of simple tangle patterns on my doodling Pinterest board – perfect for when you are just starting out!

Do visit the official Zentangle website for more details on this meditative art form.

Put this lesson to work: Cut out a 3.5 inch square from a piece of cardstock, chart paper or even regular printer paper and create a Zentangle.

And it’s a wrap!

I hope you’ve had as much fun learning about art journaling all this month as I have had conceptualizing and structuring these posts and sharing my love for art with you!

If you’ve enjoyed this series and like my art work, do take a look at my recently set up cupic portfolio, from where you can purchase some of my art prints, cards, notebooks and posters. I’ll be adding a lot more art there soon, so keep an eye out for some exciting launches!

I will be sharing more art related posts in the future, as well as my more regular posts on book reviews, soulful living, et al., as well as a whole new series on digital artistry. I’d love for you to join me on the ride!

{Y} How to create yummy textures in your art journal

There’s something beautiful about texture, isn’t there? The look of a wrinkled background, peeling paint, raised designs – it creates an extra dimension of oomph to an art piece. Now just because you’re creating in a book, it doesn’t mean you have to give up yummy texture! Absolutely not!

There are many ways to create texture in your art journal – one of my favorite ways to achieve texture is with modeling paste. It comes in many consistencies – for an art journal, the best is modeling paste or light modeling paste.

I’m not sure if you can make it out in this image, but I created the flowers with modeling paste.

There are a couple of ways in which you can use it too – through a stencil or as an organic texture on your piece {demonstrated in the video below}. You can also spread modeling paste on your substrate and stamp into it to create texture. It takes some time to dry, so if you get some where you don’t want it, you can easily wipe it off the page.

You can either apply modeling paste straight from the jar – it will dry to an opaque white finish that you can paint over later. Or you can mix it with acrylic paint and then apply it through your stencil or spread it on your page using a palette knife.

Note: Modeling paste takes about 2 hours to touch-dry. But if you plan to paint over it later, it’s best to let it dry overnight.

Here’s a short video demonstration on how to use modeling paste to create an organic texture on your page:

Easy, isn’t it?

It can get more tricky through stencils, and I will admit that it takes some trial and error before you get it right. I’ve also seen that it works best with stencils with bigger openings – too fine a stencil and the modeling paste just seeps through below it and creates a gloopy mess.

Don’t let this put you off though! Once you get the hang of it, I’m pretty sure you’ll fall in love with it!

{X} X-acto knife: carving stamps and cutting stencils

Stamps and stencils, as you may have noticed, can be an invaluable tool in your art journal kit. When I started out, I used to scoff at the HUGE variety of stamps and stencils that are available in the market. In fact, I still think that if a design is special use only, it is a waste of money to buy a stamp or stencil – it’s far better to learn how to draw that design, or better yet, create a custom design for your personal use.

All you need to invest in is one tool – an X-Acto knife – and you’re pretty much on your way.

Stamp carving 101

You can carve beautiful, complex designs on linoleum blocks, or you can take the quick and dirty route {like I typically do} and create some beautiful designs quickly and easily.

The easiest way to carve a stamp is to get your hands on a ubiquitous white eraser. Draw your design on the eraser and cut away the negative areas. Just remember that the stamp will give you a mirror image of your design, which is of particular relevance if you’re cutting alphabet stamps.

Hand carved fox stamp. Image courtesy

Don’t have an X-acto knife yet? Don’t worry. Just grab your scissors and a sheet of craft foam. You can create lovely shape stamps by cutting out shapes from your craft foam and sticking it on to a piece of cardboard in a pleasing arrangement.

Want something even quicker? Take your sheet of craft foam and draw your design on it with a pen. You’ll have to press down as you draw – ink it up and stamp away!

Stencil cutting 101

Cut your own stencils Image courtesy

You can splurge on a silhouette die cut machine that can also cut out stencils. Or spend a little elbow grease and cut out your own stencils. You’ll need an X-Acto knife and a piece of cardboard or a clear transparency sheet. Draw your design and cut away. If you cut carefully and retain the shape of the cut-out perfectly, you also have a mask for your stencil! Easy-peasy!

Put this lesson to work: Try carving a stamp or cutting a stencil and use it as a main element in your art journal.

Note: This post contains affiliate links.

{W} Wabi-sabi: Adapting the Japanese philosophy into your art

wabi-sabi-philosophyWabi-sabi is a Japanese philosophy, like Kintsugi, that embraces imperfection. Wabi-sabi, which is the art of finding beauty in imperfection and revering authenticity above all, emerged as a reaction to the 15th century aesthetic of rich ornamentation and lavish opulence. It is characterized by asymmetry, roughness or irregularity, simplicity, austerity, modesty, and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes. The concept is derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence – impermanence, suffering and emptiness.

The words wabi and sabi do not translate easily. Wabi originally referred to the loneliness of living in nature, remote from society; sabi meant “chill”, “lean” or “withered”. Around the 14th century these meanings began to change, taking on more positive connotations. Wabi now connotes rustic simplicity, freshness or quietness, and can be applied to both natural and human-made objects, or understated elegance. It can also refer to quirks and anomalies arising from the process of construction, which add uniqueness and elegance to the object. Sabi is beauty or serenity that comes with age, when the life of the object and its impermanence are evidenced in its patina and wear, or in any visible repairs. – from Wikipedia

So how can you adapt this philosophy in your art journal practice?

Give up “perfectionitis”

There will be times on your art journey when your ideas are bigger than your skill level – it’s sad but true. Instead of beating yourself up for not knowing how to do something, take the opportunity to learn and hone your skills further. And as you try and learn, give yourself some grace. If you don’t love something you’ve created, rip it out of your journal and use it as collage {I’ve never done this, though, no matter how frustrated I am with a page}. Or simply turn the page and start afresh.

Embrace “dirt”

That page on which you threw a hissy fit? Gesso over it. Bits of it will peek through from under the gesso, but create over it anyway. In this manner, you embrace your imperfections, and build over your mistakes. You will also get colors and effects and layers that are impossible to replicate when you work this way.

Highlight mistakes

These circles were just blobs of texture that had no relevance to the page. So, I added a lot of white around the area, drew in petal shapes, and doodled all around it to make it look like it was planned. Between you and me – it totally wasn’t! This is a macro from a much larger spread.

Made a boo-boo on the page? See if there is a way to make it look deliberate. Or to draw attention to it somehow. Or work around it to turn it into a focal image if you can. Or just stick something else over it and see if that works! This is also a great way to work with layers!

These are just a few ideas on embracing wabi-sabi philosophy in your art journal practice.

Do you have any other ideas to add? I’d love to hear in the comments!

{V} Veering away from the journal page

This was done on a roughly 18 by 22 size, 300gsm watercolor sheet. Let’s play! {Click image to enlarge}

Human beings are social creatures. As you start to get your art groove on, chances are that you will want to share your art with your friends. And by share, I don’t just mean flooding social media with your art work – I mean sharing a small piece of what you do with the people you love.

So today, I invite you to move out of the book and onto a lose sheet of paper. For best results, I would recommend an 18 x 20 sheet of 300 gsm watercolor paper. {If you can’t find a single sheet of watercolor paper in your area, you could use a thick sheet of drawing paper.}

When you get the paper home and into your art area, it can be quite intimidating – such a huge expanse of white! But fear not, you don’t have to do anything “cohesive” on it. Just have fun playing with all the techniques you’ve learnt so far. This huge sheet will eventually get cut up into smaller pieces.

Gather together 3-4 of your favorite colors plus white and start painting randomly. Once the paint dries, stencil and stamp in some random areas around the sheet. Apply some drips with acrylic or waterproof inks. “Fade out” some areas with thinned down white paint. Doodle with a waterproof black pen {my favorite is the Sakura Identity Pen}.


Once you’re done and everything is dry, flip the sheet over and draw your guide lines for cutting. The size will vary, depending on what you want to make. In this example, I cut up my sheet into visiting card size pieces to use as prompts. You can cut them out to make bookmarks or postcards or even as little abstract pieces of framed art – and since it’s a large sheet, you can make a few of all of these from one single sheet!


Once you have all your pieces cut out, you may find a few that may not have too much interest – feel free to doodle, stamp or stencil on those pieces if you wish.

Questions? Ask away!