I’m no artist, but an art class turned out to be the inspiration I needed to stretch out of my comfort zone.
Posted in , Apr 21, 2017
I’m lucky enough to have an adorable art shop within walking distance of my house. An evening workshop offered there recently caught my eye—an introduction to the Zentangle method of intricate, mindful doodling.
The idea intimidated me a bit; as a writer, my creative expressions have always come in the form of words. Looking at the detailed, gorgeous lines, swirls and shades of the Zentangle art reinforced something I’ve always thought about myself—visual art just isn’t my forte.
But the drawings were so beautiful, and I decided to focus on the positive potential of trying something new. Besides, Zentangle’s website mentioned two things that intrigued me. First, and crucially, the method is described as “easy-to-learn.” And second, this description:
In 2001, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I wasn’t a good candidate for chemo. I took tamoxifen instead and gave my trouble to God—just as Dr. Peale suggested in his book, "Thought Conditioners". Since then I’ve remained cancer free. -Guideposts Magazine reader
“We believe that life is an art form and that our Zentangle Method is an elegant metaphor for deliberate artistry in life…. It is an empowering and uplifting experience to learn that you can deliberately relax and intentionally direct your attention while creating beautiful works of art.”
This was worth trying, I thought. And I’m so glad I did. Here are three ways I reflected on the idea of “deliberate artistry in life” during and after the class:
1. It’s Not Perfect
Some of my lines weren’t straight. Some of my patterns weren’t consistent. Some of my shading was too subtle. Guess what? My drawing wasn’t perfect—and neither am I. Guess what else? Both those things are 100 percent okay.
2. It Provides Safe Passage Out of Our Comfort Zones
I was outside my comfort zone the minute I picked up the pen to draw instead of write. But “failure”—whatever that even means—was a low-stakes proposition. Nothing really depended on a particular outcome of my efforts, which freed me to focus on the process, let my pen glide and swirl, and watch my paper turn into art.
3. It’s Relaxing
“A drawing is simply a line going for a walk,” said the Swiss-German artist Paul Klee. As I got engrossed in the loops and lines of my piece, I found my shoulders relaxing, my breath deepening, and my mind clearing. Not unlike a calming, refreshing stroll, the simple practice of mindful doodling is a dependable route down a positive path.