Tangle Drawings

Tan­gle draw­ing by Krista, grade 4Tan­gle draw­ings are like sophis­ti­cated “doo­dles”, with an end­less vari­ety of possibilities!

Visit Zentangle.com (and its com­pan­ion Flickr site) to be inspired and see how one cou­ple has turned these sim­ple, yet sophis­ti­cated draw­ings into a world-wide craze!


  • Tan­gle — a con­fused mass of some­thing that is twisted together
  • Ele­ments of Art & Prin­ci­ples of Design — the build­ing blocks from which a piece of art is made (line, shape, form, color, value, tex­ture, space) and the way they are orga­nized or arranged (bal­ance, move­ment, rhythm, con­trast, empha­sis, pat­tern, unity).


  • white paper, 9x12 or smaller
  • Black Sharpies, F & UF, or Sakura Pen
  • Col­ored pen­cils (optional)

1. Using a black UF Sharpie (or an equiv­a­lent type of pen), draw a con­tin­u­ous, or semi-continuous, line that weaves in and out across your paper, cre­at­ing sep­a­rate sec­tions with inter­est­ing shapes. This is the time to include a bor­der if you want one.

2. Now fill those sec­tions with pat­terns of lines, shapes, or both!

3. Con­tinue adding more detail with lines and shapes. Each sec­tion should be filled with a unique pat­tern. Con­sider how you are using the ele­ments of art and prin­ci­ples of design to achieve a suc­cess­ful composition.

4. Add color if you wish!

A teacher work­shop “tangle-in-progress” by Cindy


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9 Responses to Tangle Drawings

  1. Denise (mrspicasso) July 7, 2010 at 11:19 pm #

    Cool! Kinda reminds me of Brid­get Riley. Love your blog– keep up the good work!

  2. Kathy July 8, 2010 at 5:40 am #

    I have vis­ited the site about the zen­tan­gles before, and have been won­der­ing about using those ideas to review and prac­tice the ele­ments and prin­ci­ples of art with my stu­dents in grades 3 — 6. Thank you for high­light­ing this topic!

  3. Janie B July 8, 2010 at 7:50 pm #

    I love this idea. I have taught some­thing sim­i­lar, but I’m glad to have backup ideas and sam­ples to show the kids. I just ordered the book from Zen­tan­gles. Thanks for the link.

  4. Char July 10, 2010 at 10:09 am #

    I did these end of the year with my 5th graders. Kept them occupied!

  5. Kathy July 14, 2010 at 4:28 pm #

    I did this with some of my classes dur­ing the year and they turned out really nice when mounted and placed on the wall. It took the stu­dents longer than I though to fin­ish them.

  6. Lori July 22, 2010 at 9:46 pm #

    We did our ver­sion of this project and loved it!! Thanks for sharing. :)

  7. tishalou August 5, 2010 at 5:40 pm #

    Ahh this must be where I saw the zen­tan­gles… All I know is that I bought a book and now I’m hooked. Thanks for your great blog!!

  8. Niesha November 6, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    Thanks! This was super fun to do with my daughters.


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