By Jean Bonchak
Zentangle artist Launie McDevitt teaches a new pattern called Verdigogh during a workshop at the home of fellow artist Lisa Ruschman of Mentor.
Tangled it’s not.
Rather, the art of Zentangle is a simple method of creating designs from repetitive patterns comprised of deliberative strokes that build upon each other.
Small squares of paper and a pen or pencil are the only equipment needed.
“Someone who has never called themselves an artist and has as little as 15 minutes can create a beautiful piece of art,” said Lisa Ruschman, a certified Zentangle teacher who also teaches mosaics at the Cleveland Institute of Art.
“A person who never accomplished anything in art is on par with actual artists.”
Ruschman, a Mentor resident, said she became fascinated with the form when her friend Launie McDevitt of Euclid stumbled on a Zentangle website and shared it.
After dabbling with patterns and realizing they enjoyed the process, the duo decided to travel to Whitinsville, Mass., home of Zentangle founders Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas, to obtain teacher certification in the subject.
Ruschman and McDevitt are among approximately 150 Zentangle teachers in the United States.
“It kept appearing in front of us,” Ruschman said. “We couldn’t ignore it anymore.”
The women, who refer to their partnership as “Two to Tangle,” now work together as instructors at a studio in Ruschman’s home, area workshops and other venues.
Because of its simplicity, the art appeals to all ages.
Kate Witosky teaches children ages 6 through 9 at Hershey Montessori School in Concord Township. Zentangle is offered there as an option for students during the aftercare program and at other times.
“There’s no right and wrong way necessarily,” Witosky said. “Generally, if you make a mistake you kind of work it into your art.”
Erasers are not among Zentangle supplies.
She noted that children enjoy “Tangling” because it’s manageable, and the end result is an interesting piece of work.
The art form has become so popular with some students that they’re using it to decorate report covers and creating Zentangle cornhole game boards for an auction project.
Ruschman explained that it incorporates elements from such historical and traditional arts as Maori tattoos, Zuni pottery and Celtic knotting. It also carries a meditative quality.
“Zentangle’s nonverbal language of patterns and proportions can open doors to insights which seemed locked before,” according to information from www.zentangle.com. “Creating Zentangles open those doors, not because they were locked, but because those doors swing on nonverbal hinges.
“When you create a Zentangle, you can enter a meditative state in which intuitive insights flow freely.”
Last fall, Ruschman traveled to New Mexico at the request of counselors at an addiction clinic. She taught the art form to staff members who now provide instruction to their patients.
“They’re using it, loving it and having great success,” she said.
Works by “Two to Tangle” and members of their “Mentor Wednesday Tanglers” group have been displayed in the community through various programs, including last year’s Geauga Soil and Water Conservation District Yard Art Campaign.
This year they’re working on an oversized rabbit composed of fiberglass on a steel frame for the St. Clair Superior Development Corp. public art project. When completed, the decorative sculpture, along with others designed by various groups and individuals, will be displayed throughout Cleveland’s St. Clair Superior neighborhood.
Ruschman and McDevitt said they continue to be fascinated with the art form and its ability to stoke the fires of creativity. They hope to see the art of Zentangle help as many people as possible.
“I like to take it out to the public because it’s so well received by people who are creative as well as people who are not creative,” McDevitt said.
“It’s like being given a gift and we keep paying it forward.”
For more information, call 440-749-5584 or visit web.me.com/launie_m/Site/Home.html.
Places, dates and time to learn and practice the art of Zentangle:
— Zen Den Studio: Mentor; Zentangle 101 the Basics; and Zentangle 201 Beyond the Basics, call for an appointment.
— Pat Catan’s: Painesville, 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday.