Learn Zentangle with Sue Swanson

It’s safe to say we could all use some relaxing, meditative art practices right about now. WBCA artist Sue Swanson is here to help. Along with jewelry classes, Sue teaches Zentangle art at WBCA, a meditative doodling practice.

Sue noted how many artists are having to cancel classes and events, and also the paper product shortages in grocery stores. That led her to think, how could she combine these two different ideas?

“Some of us are frustrated and feel the need to vent,” Sue said.

This led her to think about her Cursive 2 Zentangle design. She developed this design in part because she believes in the importance of cursive, and how it helps to balance right brain and left brain functions. “It encourages hand-eye coordination by keeping the words flowing,” she said.

According to Sue, “This tangle is based on cross writing which is a method of combining two sections of text, one written over the other at right angles.” In other words, it’s a way to journal in secret, writing over your notes, rendering them unreadable. This way, you can vent frustration, secrets, fears—anything—and then send them into the ether.  

Cross writing even has historical roots. In fact, the Brontë sisters used to do it, and Jane Austen mentioned it in one of her novels. Why has this practice continued throughout the years? For one reason, it conserves paper! Paper was expensive in Victorian times, and so people would reuse it by writing over text in the opposite direction, so that the writing was still legible.

From its historical roots Sue has developed a more mindful, artistic approach to cross-writing. “Sometimes I need to rant in my journal and cross writing makes my writing a little more private. So it is perfect for writing things I don’t want anyone else to read and maybe even “cursing” a bit,” she said.

So for anyone who needs to vent, here are the steps to create the Cursive2 tangle:

  1. Write horizontally as normal.
  2. Turn the paper 90° and write over what you have written.
  3. Color in the negative spaces in between the words to turn the text into a work of art!
Learn the steps to Zentangle

“Give Cursive 2 a whirl! Curves and curls, Spirals and spontaneity keep our minds soothed. Plus, you have such a sense of pleasure . . . feeling your pen in your hand, your hand coming in contact with the paper, your mind attuned to the work at hand. Finding satisfaction and reward in your art helps you to stay upbeat and alert. Art heals!”

                -Sue Swanson

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