I use that title in jest, a little bit. I feel very proud of my zendoodles and when/if people call them art? I take it. But I also know as the person who is doing the art, that they are really nothing more than circles and lines and…well…that feels a little silly referring to that as “art.”
But! Either way! I wanted to do a “How To” since someone asked recently, and this seemed like a witty title!
(I’m fairly certain in all of the books of blogging out there, none of them would recommend spending the first 50 words of the entry explaining the title of the entry.)
The basics: My zendoodle tools. I use my moleskin bullet journal with dotted paper (which they don’t make in hardcover yet which MAKES ME CRAZY). My moleskine has nice thick paper and rarely does the ink bleed through to the next page. As you’ll see below there are a few bleed-throughs on the next page but I do a LOT of coloring, so that’s not bad considering. I used to put cardstock under the pages, but now i’m just too lazy. And my pens? (As you’ll see in the picture, which you can click to see bigger.) Pentel EnterGel Metal Tip 0.7 (NOT Needle Tip, they don’t color as smooth and they cut holes in the paper.) Target has a nice color pack with pink and aqua, but Staples has the basic Red/Blue/Green/Black. Then you can buy purple separately, for some reason. So! Those are my tools! Now, let’s get started.
Let me preface by saying this: There are some amazing things called “Zentangles” out there. But – from what I understand – Zentangle has some specific definition or requirements for use of the word. I really haven’t dug too far into it, because I like “zendoodle” better, but I’m just saying, I have NO idea if anything I do falls under the category “zentangle” but it DOES fall under the “zendoodle” category so…I’m calling it that.
But if you look up either word on Pinterest, you’ll see a lot of detail and precision you won’t see in my zendoodles. And that’s why I feel like mine are proof ANYONE can do it. None of my lines are perfectly straight or perfectly curved. I still haven’t figured out how to draw a circle correctly, and I’m constantly coloring over mistakes.
Now, zendoodling isn’t for everyone, but I firmly believe anyone can do it. If you ever liked to doodle in class or absentmindedly on the phone, then you should give this a try. And if you want to? Here are a few things I’ve learned.
The first and foremost is? Find inspiration. As I mentioned before, I have a Zendoodle Board on Pinterest where I pin examples of things that either A) inspire me or B) use lines/symbols/patterns I think I can learn. I do not have an artist eye. I can’t just start from scratch. I love those “Paint and Drink” classes because they tell you exactly what to do. I need to have guidance. Once I have something to get me started, I’m good to go, but I can’t just look at a blank page and start drawing without any sort of pattern or idea in my mind as inspiration. I guess you can say I have the skill, but not the eye? I always feel like I like I can look at something and say, “That looks good.” (Especially with web design.) But I can’t necessarily make something that looks good from scratch without anything to guide me.
Second, but just as important? Work with what you know. If you can draw flowers? Stick with flowers. If you can do complicated patters? Great. But if you are like me and can’t even draw a straight line or connect a circle in an actual smooth round pattern? That’s okay too. One of my favorite parts of this zendoodle below? Is just the line pattern. I’ve been thinking about doing an entire page in that because – come on – how easy is that?
It may take awhile to figure out what you can and can not do. I really like this one pattern I see a lot. I don’t know what to call it, but you see it a lot on mandalas and henna flowers. It’s the petal shape in the top right flower on this zendoodle. It’s a simple shape, yet every time I try, I can’t make the left and the right side match. I have the same problem with hearts. I just can’t make something that is like a mirror reflection, and if you’re trying to repeat that pattern around a circle? And can’t even get one of the petals to line up right? It goes downhill fast.
I still try periodically, because it would be a nice shape to add to my limited wheelhouse, but I’ve kinda given up for now.
So, spend some time figuring out what you can do relatively easily. Some things don’t have to be perfect (my circles always suck) to work on a zendoodle, others kinda do. I kinda finally have a good stash of patterns and lines I can do relatively easily that don’t have to be perfect, so I use those same ones over and over again.
Now, like I mentioned, none of my zendoodles represent any sort of precision. I use dotted grid paper but I hardly ever use it to guide me. I’ve tried a few times, but I just have shaky hands (I blame 12 years of smoking) and a lot of impatience so I just roll with the constant imperfections. Because, when I stand back and look at the entire page when I’m done? I always love it. So…Tip #1? Don’t miss the forest for the trees.
3 close-ups and 1 full view proving how the imperfections fade in the end.
I just finished that zendoodle above in yesterday’s car pool line. I love it, but MAN, I screwed up a million times. Because I was trying to repeat a pattern (swirls) and then connect those patterns with some sort of repeating loop, I really wanted there to be precision, but I gave up on that after the first swirl looked completely different from the second swirl. So, even though my bumps around a circle were supposed to be the same all the way around, they never were. Even though I wanted to have the same size circle or the same number of lines, it never worked out. I just am not precise enough, but when you stand back and look at the whole thing? It doesn’t matter.
Another thing is – there are no unfixable mistakes.
In reality? There are just no mistakes. But sometimes a line just really goes where you didn’t want it to go, and you want to undo it. This square here represents a lot of colored-in areas I didn’t intend to color in, but after messing things up, I just filled in over top and worked with the new, more solid patters. Small mistakes are easily colored in. But, sometimes there are BIG mistakes. Like the fact that I suddenly kept seeing glasses and a nose on that square above. I didn’t intend for it to be glasses and a nose, but that’s what I saw. So I tried to add doodles around it distracting it from that appearance.
Of course, I still look at at that square and see: Glasses and a Nose. But, I continued with the whole page and when I finished? There were too many other cool things going on over the page to really see the Glasses and the Nose any more. So, big mistakes often shrink in appearance.
So, I think those are some good tips to get you started. I have pages and pages of abandoned doodles in the bullet journals on my shelf. I’m just now confident enough that I force myself to finish a page as close as possible before I call it “done”. That doesn’t necessarily mean I fill it, but it means I work until it feels complete. This bullet journal volume that I’m working on now? Has four complete zendoodles in it already. That’s the most of any volume I think to date. I’m really getting the hang of it and really enjoying it as a daily therapy session.
Have you started doodling? Can I see yours now that I’ve shown you mine?