I finally found an art project that my 5 year old son loves and doesn’t want to quit as soon as possible! Zentangle® inspired drawing! I have such a hard time getting my kids excited about art, this is a joyous post to write!
As many of you know, we like to use journals for learning activities, like keeping track of the latest obsession, or recording curious questions. Last summer I started art journals with the kids and one of the projects I had in mind was Zentangles. Our summer art journaling was not as successful as I had hoped but we finally got around to a little Zentangle drawing.
Perhaps you are scratching your head and wondering, “What is Zentangle? The Zentangle Method was created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. Zentangle is a way of drawing structured and repetitive patterns. It is touted as being meditative and low-key. This is all very true, but what I told my son was,
In Zentangle there are no rules except that each shape needs to be filled up.
He loved that idea. There are books and kits that teach you how to do Zentangle drawings. With my kids how-to lessons only encourage them to copy and I don’t want that at all! In my opinion, Zentangle drawing is all about being free to do what you want, not someone else’s idea. All you need is paper and at least one marker. Anyone, any age, any skill level can get creative. (This post contains affiliate links to the materials we used, but you can use whatever you already have at home.)
At first — as with all art projects — he protested he didn’t want to participate. However, I sat down and got out the Sharpies. He has a really hard time resisting Sharpies, and came over to see what I was doing. (UPDATE: Read the comments below! From now on, we will be using Flair Pens, not Sharpies! Thank you, Donna!)
We started out with a blank page in the journal. I LOVE these journals because the paper is thick enough for watercolor or collage and even though the Sharpies do bleed onto the backside of the paper, they don’t go all the way through to the next sheet. I drew the black outlines for my 5 year old to get him started.
Zentangle drawing traditionally starts out with black patterning, but I knew the colored Sharpies would be much more enticing and I really wanted to emphasis the “no rules” part.
I think he felt free because he wasn’t being expected to draw “something”. Both my kids express frustration over their drawings “not being good” even though I’ve never emphasized the representational aspect of art, and heaven knows I am no model of stellar artistic talent!
At one point he decided that he wanted to use two pens at the same time. No rules!
When I said, “do you want to know how to make a spiral?” he answered no but then I just started doing them anyway and he was drawn (pun) into them.
He loved spirals and declared he was making “Zen Spirals.”
Eventually he filled 4 journal pages. He even said, “thanks for doing this with me, mom.” I’m pretty sure he has never thanked me for doing art with him before! Victory!
Have you ever tried Zentangle art with your kids? There are lots of resources out there which will tell you “how to make Zentangles,” but I say, throw all that out the window and let the imagination roam.
** Incidentally, when my 9 year old got home he joined us in making his own Zentangle journal page! Double fist pump! (I know, I’m not being very Zen about it.)
MORE ART TO DO WITH A 5 YEAR OLD: