January 26, 2013

"Best Faculty In-Service Day Ever" - Teaching a Zentangle Workshop

“Will there be any competition?” the Director of Athletics asked me just before I began teaching a Zentangle® workshop at Stoneleigh-Burnham School, a college preparatory boarding and day school for girls, grades 7-12, located in Greenfield, MA.

“No,” I replied, “this about the whole group coming together.”

“Two teams?” he asked hopefully.


My workshop was the afternoon session of a professional development day held just before classes resumed at the school after winter break.

Zentangle is a relaxing and easy to learn method of creating beautiful images from structured patterns. Students draw on 3.5 inch squares of fine art paper referred to as “tiles”. The term “tile” stems from the unifying ritual of combining artworks completed in class to form a mosaic.

                  “The best meeting ever - no one talked,” quipped the Director of Instrumental Music, as the participants assembled the first mosaic and closely examined each other’s art.

An English teacher exclaimed, “We should do a whole school Zentangle.”

"We should exhibit these," an Administrator chimed in.

A Spanish teacher noted how quiet the room was while the faculty and staff members worked on their creations. “We had been talking about the need for “quiet” in the lives of our girls. So this really set a great tone.”

“Did you find any competition?” I asked the Director of Athletics at the end of the workshop.

“Only what prices these different pieces might sell for,” he replied, gesturing towards the mosaic of freshly drawn Zentangle artworks.

I later heard via email from the school’s Director of Communications. “I just wanted to write to thank you for leading us in Zentangle yesterday. I think everyone was really excited by it - I saw two Facebook posts by faculty members showing off their work. The title of one Facebook album was "Best Faculty In-Service Day Ever."

I just thought you should know that you've engaged the SBS faculty with a creative process and inspired us to look to the world for pattern and rhythm.

Personally...I was able to melt into the ink for a few hours and escape the deadlines and tough work schedule that I have on tap for the next 10 weeks."

Mosaic #1:

The "tiles" above are the first Zentangle artworks ever drawn by the workshop participants.

Since I taught a set of structured patterns, unity exists between the creations.  However, since each person approached the patterns with their own style, each artwork is also unique.

Click for more information on Zentangle.

Thank you for your interest -
      - John Nordell, M.Ed. & Certified Zentangle Teachertm 

P.S. Big thanks to Hank Mixsell at Stoneleigh-Burnham for taking these photographs!

Mosaic #2:


Styx and Stones said...

Great article John... looks like they all had fun and found their creative muse. Congratulations!

John Nordell said...

Thank you for the positive feedback!

Sandy Hunter said...

They did a great job on their tiles. I see you had some rebels in the group... it always makes me happy to see that. Congratulations on a very successful workshop!

John Nordell said...

Thanks Sandy - I appreciate the rebels as well! - John

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