Zentangle is a meditative art that focuses on relaxation through the process of drawing small “tangles” (or patterns) that transform into intricately beautiful images.

Janet Masey, Certified Zentangle Teacher, has been hosting Zentangle workshops at the Museum once a month since May 2018 as part of the programming for our PostSecret exhibit. We had the pleasure of getting to know Janet and learning about this unique art form.

Hi, Janet! Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Janet Masey, Certified Zentangle Teacher. I teach kids, women, men, and seniors the Zentangle Art Method. I blended my two loves of Hawaii and Zentangle. I dabble in playing ukulele and dancing hula. I love the Hawaiian culture; it reminds me of the background of Zentangle: relaxing, calming down and feeling the quiet.

What is Zentangle?

Zentangle is a new, unique, not-like-any other art method. The co-founders, Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas, designed the method to take the “hard” out of art. No mistakes, no erasers, no rulers. Intimidated by art? Zentangle is an easy art method that creates beautiful images by drawing structured patterns. During the process, you relax, focus, and get into a state of well-being. It’s healing art. Psychology Today calls Zentangle “yoga for the brain.” It is an abstract art method – no “up,” no “down,” just patterns.

Zentangle tiles are typically black and white and created on a small 3.5” x 3.5” square that can be completed in 15 to 20 minutes. When you put pen to paper, you get out of your thoughts, relax, and focus.

Zentangle uses include entertainment, relaxation, educational, motivational training, artistic, collectible, activity for study groups, therapy, and more.

It’s been proven to help depression, anxiety, bereavement chronic medication conditions, cancer therapy, PTSD, ADD, ADHD, Parkinson’s Disease, self-confidence, self-esteem, and early art development for children.

When did you start getting into art and what sparked your interest in it?

I just retired after 44 years of being a hairstylist. One of my clients four years ago went to Italy to take a watercolor class her aunt was teaching. During a class break, a student asked her if she wanted to learn about Zentangle. She said yes. Like most folks, she became amazed at the simplicity of this intricate, complicated looking art that’s easy enough for kids to learn.

When she returned to the States, I watched her drawing during her next few hair appointments. I was also amazed. She went to the four-day seminar to become certified and then taught a class at my home with eight of my friends.

Zentangle is a trademark, and you cannot teach unless certified – there are only four [certification] classes a year. I waited one year for an opening to attend the four-day seminar in Providence, Rhode Island with the co-founders. Rick is the “Zen” part of Zentangle, and Maria is an illustrator – the “-tangle” part of Zentangle. A lot of people call it “glorified doodling,” but doodling is mindless, and Zentangle is mindful. It isn’t all about the results of your art piece, but more about the process of drawing. Rick and Maria created a system to create art and leave you in a meditative state.

I now teach 30 different classes with the Zentangle Method in mind.

How did you come to teach Zentangle classes at the Museum?

One of my students took my brochure to the Museum (where she volunteers), and I was contacted by Catherine Lee, the Public Engagement Manager, who wanted me to share what Zentangle is and then invited me to teach at the Museum in conjunction with the PostSecret exhibit.

Do you have any advice for anyone interested in getting into Zentangle?

There are only about 3,000 Certified Zentangle Teachers all over the world. We have websites, blogs, and more. Some of my students told me they learned Zentangle from the Internet or books and do not need an introduction class. I tell them: “Take a class from a certified teacher and see the difference in your art. It will come alive. We have been trained in history, philosophy, and lesson plans, in how the art method was intended to be taught.”

If you can draw a circle and a straight line – you’ve got this. Anything is possible.

What is a piece that you are particularly proud of, and why?

Before Zentangle, I did not engage in art. Since then, I have sold my creations, and have many favorite pieces. How do you choose just one? My passion is for the meditation outlet and I’ve been very passionate about sharing Zentangle for that reason. Here’s an example of one of my basic Zentangle tiles:

The best part about Zentangle is that you can use the structured patterns in any media you are working with.

Thank you for sharing your passion for Zentangle with us, Janet! Learn more about Zentangle here, and check out our Calendar of Events to find out when Janet’s next class at the Museum is.

Janet Masey is a Certified Zentangle Teacher. Read more about her experiences with this art form on her blog, Tiki Tangles.