A Tale of Two Tiles

I was so sad when I found this after my demo last night:

An abandoned tile

An abandoned tile

The first demonstration I did was for a woman and two children – elementary and middle or early high school aged. Things were slow so it ended up being almost an hour instead of 15 minutes, which was fine. The younger girl took to it right away and was enthusiastic; the woman was your typical “I’m not an artist”; but the older girl was discouraged. She was an “artist”. Between perfectionism and being a girl that age, she was so hard on herself.

The tile above was hers. Midway through, she crumpled up her tile and refused to continue. Her sister and mother (or aunt, I wasn’t sure), and I of course, encouraged her to continue. Its hard to get through to someone who has there mind made up, especially when they’ve convinced themselves that they’re awful in some way.

So, this morning I straightened out her tile, and continued in the direction she was going. Here’s the result:

Crescent moon, Shasta (Cadent variation), and Printemps

Crescent moon, Shasta (Cadent variation), and Printemps

So many things to admire! I loved her treatment of Printemps, giving weight to some of the curves. The variant of Cadent we used, Shasta, just needed the shaping at the end of the lines. I finished up a few hanging lines, and added auras in the gaps and around the edge. Some simple shading and, poof! a lovely tile.

So many take-aways here:

  • Keep going. You can refine your lines if you are not satisfied.
  • Shading makes a big difference.
  • It’s about the process, not the end product. I think this was her big hang-up, and I couldn’t change her mind.
  • Expect the unexpected. If you have no expectations, you can’t be disappointed.
  • There is no “ideal”. You are an individual, and your work is as original as a fingerprint.

I hope that you see this, red-headed girl. I hope that you can set aside your beliefs and consider what I’ve said here with an open mind. I hope that, in your pursuit of art, you learn terms like abstract, nonrepresentational, and asymmetrical.

I totally get it, by the way. I was a teenage girl, and I wouldn’t go back there for anything. I know what it’s like when compliments are hard to hear, when you believe awful things about yourself. ┬áI hope to be a person who helps build you up, not tear you down.

Ah, I’m sad. There are so many girls out there who feel this way. If you know one, please share this. Encourage them to express themselves in art, or in a journal (or in an art journal). Don’t hover, but let them know they’re not alone.

8 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Tiles

  1. Antonine

    What a wonderful post you have given us! I recognize that girl from raising girls and being one myself, actually! Your “rescue” tile is just beautiful, and I do hope the originator of it sees your post and realizes that with just a little release of “will” and relaxing into the process she could have created something so very lovely. We need to lose ourselves to find our true selves sometimes.

  2. Sharon Wrench

    I hope she will see the beautiful tile and know that it turned out beautiful! It is really nice that you encouraged her and maybe she will decide to try again some day.

  3. Mary

    I could be that red headed girl! The perfectionist in me rears its ugly head every time I put pen to paper. I am just starting to tangle and so far, can’t put the eraser down. But I will keep on trying to get there!

  4. Cari Sultanik

    Jeanine, what you did and wrote was important because it helps illuminate how varied our students are. Some approach Zentangle with an open heart and mind; others bring baggage to the table. The truth is, you were sharing a message of hope and appreciation. I see nothing wrong with that, and I do hope your red-headed artist student sees your post and thinks about giving herself a break and some room to experiment.

  5. Jean

    “Life reflects art and art reflects life.”

    The Zentangle Method has infinite metaphors to it just as it has infinite tangles. I found you’re experience riveting because I soooooooo related to how the girl re-acted. Back when I was her age I was as hard on myself and closed off to life’s lessons and opening myself up to a more heathy view of myself and my life experiences as she was. I missed many, many “diamond in the ruff” messages that could have made my life a much a happier place. But then I think to myself , “Did I really miss anything, or was I meant to keep on going till I got the message?” Which I did, indeed, get many years later.

    I believe in this:
    “Life is meant to be experienced, not always understood.”

    Jeanine, you made a difference in this girls life, because you entered her life and showed up the best you could. I do believe more will always be revealed.

    Thank you for sharing such a RELATABLE experience… :)

  6. HeidiSue

    I think it is telling that the girl is an artist…how difficult it can be to give up the idea that it must look like something to be good, and how freaky it can be for an artist to produce a less than perfectly formed line or shape…and how the zentangle method can turn all of that around. I hope she gives it another chance (or two)

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