How do I finish this tile?

How do I finish this tile?

I recently asked some of my fellow CZTs to send me photos of tiles they had set aside for one reason or another and not finished . I thought it would be fun to finish the tiles and do a blog post to explain why I finished them the way I did. I was hoping to be able to give some insight into some of the roadblocks tanglers face and ways to get past them. I don’t know if I’ve achieved this but many thanks to Certified Zentangle Teachers Jessica Davies, Nancy Domnauer, Tasha Millhouse, and Anoeska Waardenburg for allowing me to give this idea a chance. It was challenging.

I’ll start with this tile sent to me by Tasha Millhouse.

I thought it was a great start with very nice Icanthis and Fengle that seems full of motion. I felt the Icanthis was getting a little lost and needed to fill out that corner so I added just a few more leaves. Then I added more rounding and some shading behind to make it stand out a little more. Since odd numbers of things seem to create a more pleasing composition I added two more Fengle, varying their size and flipping the two I added so they seem to be whirling in the opposite direction. This made it more interesting. I also like to do something unexpected so I continued the shading down the tile behind the Fengle but kept it mostly within the confines of the space created by the Fengle shapes. This also balanced the values of the tile. Finally it seemed to need a border to ground the tangles, but I only drew it around three sides and added the drippy lines to unify things. Here is the resulting tile.


Next up is this tile from Jessica Davies.

This is a nice variation of Aquafleur drawn around a heart shape. I think that the roadblock here is that the shape is smack in the middle of the tile. I decided to give the heart an inner aura and make it see-thru to give it  less weight. Once it’s see-thru then you obviously see whats behind so I drew in the ribbons and extended them out to the edges of the tile. While I made the back of the ribbons white to emphasize the undulations it was still kind of hard to differentiate them. To emphasize each ribbon’s edges I added the white stitching. This helped a lot. I added  a black pearl over the area where the ribbons emerge to try and push the focus more off center. Lastly I added some shading and the Printemps swath in the background. This accomplishes two things, 1) it emphasizes the see-through quality and 2) it is off center and pulls the focus from the middle of the tile. Here’s the final outcome.


The next tile is from Anoeska Waardenburg.


This tile has a really good start. The composition so far has a lot of potential. It’s just one of those tiles where one can be unsure what to add next. When I get a tile like this I will usually set it aside and look back at it from time to time. Something eventually suggests itself. In this case several tangles that share some aspect with the existing tangles suggested themselves to me. First I added a little Mooka and a little more Flux. Then for a little different texture I added “peek-a-boo” Fluxecho. These tangles complimented the existing Flux. Then I added some Zinger which mirrors the shape of the existing Purk. Then I added the shaded aura border and a few enhancements like the black pearls, beads on the border and rounding on the Fluxecho. Don’t forget enhancements, they can really make a tile shine. Here is the final outcome.


Last was this tile sent by Nancy Domnauer

It took me a while to decide what to do with this tile. It is two nicely drawn tangles that are roughly the same size and shape in the middle of the tile with a few Printemps done in gray pen. I knew first off that I wanted to extend the gray Printemps to create a third shape. This goes back to the principle that an odd number of shapes is more interesting. About this time Margaret Bremner came out with her blog post about tangles that can be used for creating fantasy trees (you can read her post here). After reading her post I could see nothing but trees in this tile. I love Margaret’s Day/Night tiles so I decided to turn this into a Bremner-like fantasy tile. I have a Derwent Graphik Line Marker in a color called graphite that worked really well in this light to dark piece. I used it along with a little black pen on the Printemps tree and I really like the way it turned out. I also used it on the sun and plant detail. If Nancy had not used gray on those three Printemps I probably wouldn’t have used it on this tile. This all goes to show that you can’t know where your inspiration will come from, you just have to be open to it.

I hope I’ve managed to give you a few things to think about next time you ask yourself “How do I finish this tile?”



31 Responses to How do I finish this tile?

  1. Thank you, Lynn, for sharing your thought process. It is so interesting. It left me with lots to think about. All the tiles are beautiful!

  2. Lynn,
    I found this study to be one of best exercises ive seen done since i have been tangling for almost 2 years. What i find of great value is the thought process behind why you have chosen to do something. Many of us are not trained as artists by occupation but your comments provide a little lesson at the same time that help us to file in our brains should we comeacross similar situations in future. I love Zentangle and all the benefits it provides and i can also understand why the emphasis is on accentuating the positives in any art. There are a few, however, that would welcome constructive criticism to improve their art because there is a learning aspect that is important if we want to improve and grow. Your study emphasizes that in a very positive way (always explaining why you chose a certain dorection). Once i asked Maria Thomas for some constructive feedback on something i was having trouble with. She wrote back to me by private email, rather than sharing with everyone on the Zentangle Mosaic just to avoid any sensitivities that i might have had if others saw it. In the note, she commented on some of the areas i should focus on in addition to her usual positive highlights. I will never forget that occasion because i learned so much from it and am now that much better for the practice. I also just completed CZT29 a few weeks ago so i am a newbie or rookie CZT until the next class of CZTs in 2018. I promised myself that if i do teach, which i intend to, that i would also set a personal challenge to want to build this kind of feedback in my practice if it is ever asked for. Not only should i keep practicing tangling but i owe it to my dedicated students constructive feedback for improvement if they ever ask for it (so i need to practice that too!). I still have many things to learn so i may not have the answer in which case i can help them find an answer through studies like yours. I hope you continue this type of review from time to time as well as other CZTs. I have seen personally great value from it! Matt PS my current blog is under reconstruction so all corrspondence should go to my email below. My new blog, The Princeton Tangler, will be up and running soon!

    • Matt, Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I feel that constructive criticism, when asked for, is a valuable learning tool and is sometimes necessary to continue the journey down the Zentangle/artistic path.

  3. Wow, this is a fabulous post and a great inspiration! I love travelling tangles, but I’m always at a loss as of what to do with the start someone sends me and it takes AGES to overcome the fear of ruining it. Your post really made me want to try again right now. 🙂
    Another great inspiration is the graphite shading around the tangled spaces, it has a really cool effect! Gotta try that soon… oh no, right now! 🙂

  4. These are terrific, Lynn! I especially appreciate how the three tiles look so different after you finished them. This is such a great exercise for all of us in how to think outside the box. Love it! Thanks so much for doing this project. Can’t wait to see it again!

  5. Thank you so much for explaining the thought process you go through when choosing a complimentary tangle to your other tangles, Lynn. You must be a wonderful teacher! I’ve subscribed to your blog and hope to learn lots more. Thanks very much.

  6. Excellent! This gives hope to those of us (me…) who look at what we started and can’t move past GO!

  7. Lynn….tremendous blog post….I imagine this took much time…but surely would love to see more of these…Love how your tangled mind creates…Kudos

  8. Lynn, the finished tiles are brilliant! The way you decided what to do next and why is a very helpful exercise. Thank you!

  9. Lynn thanks for sharing your process. It was interesting to see how you solved the design problems. You have a talent for bringing together separate patterns into a cohesive composition. Thanks for a great post!

  10. What a fun way to learn and be inspired! Thank you for sharing and I’d love to see more of these!

  11. I love to learn this way. It was both visual, and words. You helped me understand what you saw (the challenges in the original piece, how to brainstorm, and shared your logic for action. I hope I see many, many, many more of these. I have not seen this approach in the many books I have or any classes I have taken with CZTs or at my CZT27 seminar. Thank you SO
    MUCH!!! Donna

      • I too love that you not only showed us your finished version but explained what you did and why. I often get stuck deciding where to go with a tile, and a series of posts like this would really help open my eyes (and mind) not only to the vast possibilities available to me, but also provide a framework and guiding principles.

  12. They are all fantastic but particularly like the ‘fantasy’ one. Thank you so much for sharing with us Lynn.

  13. Thank you so much for sharing your processes with us! It’s really quite helpful and the results you come up with are amazing. I think one of the lessons here is to just let things sit and “stew” for a while, giving those creative juices time to flow.

    Your blog is great, BTW, I always get some great things out of it.

  14. Lynn, your post was the best I’ve seen in a while. What a creative way to help other CZTs to conquer that space we run into where we draw a blank. You really outdid yourself this time. Thank you for such an instructional and fun article. Debbie Sagan,CZT

  15. This is awesome. Love how you think and went about finishing the tiles. Great job by all!…Thanks for sharing your “how to”!…

  16. This post has helped to bring me closer to understanding how to finish a tangle. Thank you for bringing this inspiration.