It takes one to [Zen]tan­gle

Adult col­or­ing and draw­ing trend hits South­ern Mary­land

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By SARAH FLEIS­CHMAN sfleis­chman@somd­

Col­or­ing isn’t just for crayon-clench­ing kinder­gart­ners any more.

Along­side the more tra­di­tional or so­phis­ti­cated art sup­plies, craft stores now stock col­or­ing books mar­keted to­ward adults, with com­plex pat­terns and de­signs rather than Mickey Mouse. As a re­sult, classes and groups sur­round­ing the nowadult leisure ac­tiv­ity of col­or­ing, doo­dling and Zen­tan­gling (which fo­cus- es on draw­ing struc­tured pat­terns) have popped up through­out South­ern Mary­land.

Two groups meet reg­u­larly to color at li­braries in Calvert County and at the Wal­dorf West li­brary, col­or­ing is now a reg­u­larly of­fered fea­ture.

Sarah Guy, Charles County Wal­dorf West li­brary pro­gram co­or­di­na­tor, said she was trav­el­ing over­seas in Oc­to­ber and saw an en­tire aisle of adult col­or­ing ma­te­ri­als and brought some home for friends and co­work­ers and they all loved it. Then, she bought a large peel-and-stick col­or­ing page, cut it in half and mounted it on a ta­ble at the li­brary.

In the first month, 750 peo­ple col­ored the table­top col­or­ing page. Now, in­di­vid­ual col­or­ing pages are on a ta­ble at the li­brary, free for pa­trons to take with them or color at the li­brary. Guy said the branch goes through 70 to 100 pages each week.

Col­or­ing has also caught on at other Charles County branches and among li­brary staff.

At the P.D. Brown Me­mo­rial Branch, a col­or­ing group meets ev­ery Tues­day from 6 to 7 p.m. The li­brary pro­vides the space and sup­plies for any­one to come and color.

“It’s re­ally a good space just to come and un­wind and not think of any­thing and re­lax,” said Meghan Yost, li­brar­ian at the P.D. Brown Me­mo­rial Branch.

Guy said she en­joys col­or­ing be­cause of the mind­less na­ture of it.

“I let my thoughts kind of wan­der and drift and I don’t feel any obli­ga­tion to do any­thing,” Guy said.

At the end of the Tues­day night meet­ings, Yost said peo­ple tell her they feel calmer af­ter an hour of col­or­ing.

Erin Doyle, a cir­cu­la­tion as­sis­tant at the Wal­dorf West Branch said col­or­ing is cathar­tic. A free­lance artist, Doyle said col­or­ing is a nat­u­ral ex­ten­sion of what she al­ready does.

“You can fo­cus on just what you’re do­ing. You don’t have to think of any­thing else,” Doyle said.

For Des­tiny Hous­ton, ma­rina tech­ni­cian at the Wal­dorf West Branch, col­or­ing is a way to cre­ate some­thing beau­ti­ful even with­out artis­tic skills.

“I don’t have any artis­tic skills. The best I can do is stay in the lines,” she said.

Hous­ton, like most peo­ple, col­ored as a child, but she never stopped as she grew up. She con­tin­ued to color in chil­dren’s col­or­ing books, keep­ing each com­pleted book in a col­lec­tion on a book­shelf.

“I color when I feel stressed, be­cause it’s a way to re­lax and cre­ate some­thing,” she said.

In Calvert County, a col­or­ing and doo­dling group started up sev­eral months ago at the Prince Fred­er­ick li­brary and another is start­ing at the li­brary in Solomons. The Prince Fred­er­ick meetup has sev­eral mem­bers who are Zen­tan­gle en­thu­si­asts. Zen­tan­gle takes the artis­tic and re­lax­ation pos­si­bil­i­ties of adult col­or­ing a step fur­ther.

Jeanne Lar­ri­son, of Ch­e­sa­peake Beach said she took a Zen­tan­gle class.

“I think it’s nice if you’re in­se­cure. Every­one in the room came up with some­thing beau­ti­ful,” Lar­ri­son said.

Jill Smith­son, of La Plata, teaches Zen­tan­gle classes at An­n­marie Sculp­ture Gar­den and Arts Cen­ter in Solomons and at Mat­ta­woman Creek. She’s a cer­ti­fied teacher in the method of med­i­ta­tive draw­ing. Zen­tan­gle fo­cuses on draw­ing d pat­terns based on a dot, a comma an “S,” an “O” and a dash. Each pat­tern is based on com­bin­ing these five things, Smith­son said. It’s not just ran­dom doo­dling.

Smith­son dis­cov­ered Zen­tan­gle while her mother was un­der­go­ing treat­ment for breast can­cer.

“I rec­og­nized af­ter so many doc­tors of­fices that there are only so many mag­a­zine ar­ti­cles than can hold your at­ten­tion,” Smith­son said. “I rec­og­nized that once I ex­plored Zen­tan­gle it was a way for me to come back to cen­ter. It was a way for me to have a way of med­i­ta­tion.”

There’s a com­mon say­ing among its en­thu­si­asts: There are no mis­takes in Zen­tan­gle. Smith­son said any­one can cre­ate some­thing from the mis­takes.

“There are no mis­takes in Zen­tan­gle, as in life,” Smith­son said.

Tracey Pin­tell Quade, of Val­ley Lee, saw a Zen­tan­gle on a friend’s kitchen ta­ble and was cu­ri­ous, looked it up on­line and took a class from Smith­son, which Quade hosted at her home. Since then, Quade has hosted sev­eral Zen­tan­gle classes, one of which was her own birth­day party.

Many Zen­tan­gles are done on thick card-stock tiles, but any piece of pa­per or sur­face can be tan­gled. Smith­son said she’s even heard of peo­ple de­tail­ing their cars with Zen­tan­gle. But many of Quade’s Zen­tan­gles are done on eggs.

Quade keeps chick­ens in her back­yard, so she’s just us­ing what is avail­able to her. The ge­om­e­try of the eggs also maked the tech­niques more chal­leng­ing. She gives the eggs as gifts. For wed­ding gifts, she will roll $100 around a tooth­pick and slide it through a hole in the dec­o­rated egg. She’ll tell the cou­ple there’s money in the egg, but not to break it un­less they re­ally need it. She said it adds more value to the egg and the money that way.

Aside from how Zen­tan­gle has be­come an art form for Quade, it still goes back to the roots of it be­ing a med­i­ta­tive ac­tiv­ity. Last year, she had to stay in the hos­pi­tal over night and couldn’t sleep, so she de­cided to Zen­tan­gle. Three to four min­utes into it, nurses burst into her room and asked if she was OK. All of a sud­den, her heart rate dropped be­cause of how calm Zen­tan­gle made her.

“You can re­ally just get in the moment,” Quade said.

The col­or­ing club at the P.D. Brown Me­mo­rial Branch Li­brary in Charles County meets Tues­days at 6 p.m. In Calvert County, a group meets Wed­nes­days at 2 p.m. at the li­brary in Solomons. Ad­di­tion­ally, a group will meet at the Prince Fred­er­ick li­brary from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Mon­day, April 11, and from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Mon­day, April 25.


Sarah Guy, Charles County Wal­dorf West Li­brary pro­gram co­or­di­na­tor, started a col­or­ing sta­tion in the li­brary branch, which in­cludes a large com­mu­nal col­or­ing page as well as in­di­vid­ual pages to color or take home.


Jill Smith­son of La Plata shows some of her Zen­tan­gles. Smith­son is a cer­ti­fied Zen­tan­gle in­struc­tor.

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