Sunday, February 12, 2012
It's Addictive: An Interview with Linda Farmer--and Your Chance to Win!
Note: As many of you know, I love Zentangle! So I asked an expert to explain some of the appeal. The tangle above was done by Linda Farmer. One lucky commenter will win a copy of AlphaTangle: A Truly Tangled Alphabet by Sandy Steen Bartholomew--so please, don't be shy!
1. How did you get involved with Zentangle®? What about it is so appealing to you?
I’m not quite sure how I became involved with Zentangle® because it was a few years ago and I wasn’t “into it” at the time. However, I suspect it was my interest in teaching myself calligraphy that led me to Zentangle through Maria Thomas’ website (http://mariathomasonline.com). Maria is probably the top lettering artist in the world - her work is unique, elegant and simply exquisite. She has set many trends in the lettering arts and together with her partner, Rick Roberts, created the Zentangle art form and method (http://zentangle.com/).
One of my favorite art forms is Persian miniatures so the size and beauty of Zentangle instantly appealed to me. I subscribed to Rick and Maria’s occasional newsletters and loved what I saw. For a couple of years Zentangle remained interesting eye candy for me through the newsletters as I pursued calligraphy and varied interests in art. I collected all kinds of art “how to” books and also taught myself about things like color theory and watercolor in my spare time. That was my outlet from my daily life as a business writer and computer geek in our public relations and marketing business.
For Christmas in 2009 my Mom sent me some money and I debated for some time what art supplies I wanted to get with her gift, finally deciding to order an Official Zentangle Kit.
I received my Official Kit and its instructional DVD with Maria demonstrating the Zentangle process and showing how to draw several of the official tangles. That has turned out to be an amazing life-long gift from my Mom.
I’d never really drawn a lot before, but just as they say, anyone can do this “one stroke at a time”. I was astonished and thrilled at what I was able to create and that was it. I was hooked. As everyone who has tried it will tell you, it’s addictive.
2. On your blog, you have compiled the largest “glossary” of tangles that I’ve ever seen. What inspired you to do that?
I began collecting more tangle patterns and links to the instructions for all the ones I could find online. I’ve always been obsessed with organizing information – must have been a librarian in a former life. After a short while my database index had grown to quite a size so I figured it might be useful for others too. That was when I decided to share it by starting TanglePatterns.com and I launched the site at the beginning of May in 2010.
It’s interesting for me to see my development from my early drawings when I hadn’t had much experience. You definitely get better with practice as your fine motor skills become more honed.
I wasn’t a Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT®) then, however it was my mission for my site to remain as true to the founders’ intentions as possible because I didn’t want to dilute this beautiful art form. I had seen very misleading videos on YouTube purporting to demonstrate Zentangle, and from studying the Kit and the Zentangle site I knew the videos were wrong. I didn’t want to make that mistake on TanglePatterns.
When I attended the certification seminar last October, I was relieved to learn I wasn’t mistaken about the YouTube videos. When you’re only going on what you find on the internet, it can be dicey to be sure you’re publishing accurate information.
3. How is "tangling" different from "doodling"? How do tangles get names? How do people submit tangles to you? What form does that take? (I’m trying to get at the process here.)
People submit patterns to me by email following the instructions on my “Submit Your Pattern” page where I also provide a form for them to use if they choose. However, the majority of the tangles on TanglePatterns are a result of my time sleuthing and tracking down patterns to add to the site. I look at every pattern I can find online to see if they qualify for the site. Tangles have pretty specific criteria related to the meditative aspects of Zentangle.
The idea behind Zentangle and its method is that it is specifically designed to eliminate left brain decision-making and shift one’s consciousness to the right brain, intuitive side. The shift to the meditative state happens as you become totally focused on each deliberate stroke of the pattern-making. For want of a better way to describe it, the Zentangle method short-circuits your monkey-mind. The outcome “unfolds one stroke at a time”.
One of the main characteristics of tangles is they are abstract designs. Generally speaking, if a pattern is an attempt to recreate “some thing” then it is a doodle not a tangle. There are many doodles mistakenly labeled as tangles online. Drawing something recognizable engages the thinking part of your brain and that’s not Zentangle. It’s easy to confuse the outcome of Zentangle with doodling, but they are quite different processes.
As far as names go, the person who creates the pattern names it and names can be based on anything, or no-thing. There are no “rules”. When I created my first tangles, I named them after wine varietals because I was enjoying a nice Zinfandel when my first one, Zin, “appeared”. Rick and Maria are very playful about naming their tangles. For example, Cadent is a combination of canine and dental, because the tangle reminded them of houndstooth. Hurry is named after a rush-woven chair.
5. When you aren’t working on your blog or tangling, what do you enjoy doing?
My husband Robert and I have lived in Florida for almost 30 years, most of that in South Florida but more recently in Northeast Florida (St. Augustine). We’re big Miami Heat basketball fans and we also love college football and the Miami Hurricanes. We enjoy dining at home, listening to music (mostly jazz), watching movies and sports, and reading.
When I was a very young teenager, my family lived in the Middle East and I spent two delightful years with my nose buried in mystery books – Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy Sayers, Marjorie Allingham, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Rex Stout … I’m what they call a vertical reader – I like to start at the beginning of an author’s bibliography and read chronologically. I remain an avid mystery reader to this day and right now I’m working my way through Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series.
One of my favorite websites is http://stopyourekillingme.com – the cataloging they do with mystery books, I do on a much more modest scale with tangles on TanglePatterns.com.