The Way of the Doodle

Art as  “Active Meditation”

Would you love to reap some of the rewards of meditation, but you find sitting still and quietly is a great challenge for you?

  Would you love to shut down your chattering mind and just for once, feel at peace?

Do you imagine you don’t have an artistic bone in your body?

then read on for a surprisingly simple way to doodle fabulous art pieces and relax your body and mind at the same time.

Over the last couple of years the arrival of an art form named Zentangle, has caught the attention of not only the artist in many of us; but also has inspired the efforts of all those who till then had claimed…”no artistic abilities” to create magical luminous art!”

This simple, “One stroke, one breath, one line at a time”  way of “doodling”, your way into peace and serenity, is the perfect transition from an inability to sit quietly and comfortably with ourselves; into “actively meditating” to relax the Body, Heart and Mind.”

Zentangle® art form, in it’s original creation, was discovered by Maria Thomas.  If you would like to learn the original method you can learn more at

So lets get started

Supplies: Paper, a pen or pens, couple pencils and an eraser.Thats it! I  promise you after a matter of a few days or a week or two depending on how much time you have to “play”, your artistic endeavors will surprise you in how swiftly you evolve from simple doodles to the most amazing pieces of art you could imagine.

The beauty of this way of doodling is you can pretty much carry all your supplies any place you are going.  You can use any pen you like… BUT… unless it is archival ink, it might smudge

I use a Sakura Micron 01 archival ink pen.  They cost about $3.00 and after 4 months and about 30 drawings I am still on my second pen.  Easy to find at art stores they give you a really clear line and don’t bleed through paper.

Copy paper, especially the 28lb, from the computer is great to start, and anything right up to expensive hot pressed water colour paper…  Personally I buy the cheapest water colour pads or plain drawing books (100lb).  The book in this picture is an old journal I started and had forgotten about, hence the stickers on the pages, but right now it’s the home of most of my doodle art.  Experiment or use what you already have at home.

You’ll need a drawing pencil that is easily erasable HB,or F work well.  A 6B pencil for shading, and an eraser.  If you have none of this at home, it will still cost you under $10.00 and it all fits into a pocket!

Putting pen to paper: A 4″ x 6″ size for your beginning efforts works really well and isn’t too overwhelming.  Remember you are playing, experimenting, and amusing only yourself.  You can simply mark dots to outline the area (see illustration below) and then divide it up with lines as in the top two examples, or as in the bottom two, draw any shape and then section it. You will be drawing repeating patterns into each area, (each negative space) one pattern at a time one line at a time.

Take a breath and relax as you begin to draw.  Draw one line, then draw another one.  Let the pencil take you where it wants to go.  Pay attention to what shape you’d like to create.  There are no mistakes with this process just possibilities and the unplanned art you are about to discover.  As your mind becomes engaged with drawing, your body relaxes and the days complications will fall softly away.

Different strokes for different folks

ABOVE – Left to right~ Make dots to mark the area you will work in. Connect the dots with straight or wavy lines, divide the space.

BELOW – different shapes you might choose

Below are repeating patterns of circles … in the examples below I drew each step of the pattern in different boxes, with a large marker straight onto the page to show the process more clearly – but for my own doodles I pencil in the design first and then go over the pencil with the fine Sakura ink pen. Fill in one space at a time.  Allow your design to develop into something unique and beautiful as you work slowly and relax more deeply.

Zigzags, (clearly a bit of wonky photography going on here)… simple lines, one line at a time soon grows into a finished area.   Finished doodle drawings at first glance look complicated, but the art is in building them slowly, with attention on the pleasure of watching your creation take form.  New ideas will come the more you doodle.


Pebbles are a favourite way to fill in spaces for many “Doodlers”.  Deliberate attention to each simple stroke of the pen, brings in your focus and slows your breathing.  Your body and mind will love you for it.  Put on music, listen to an audio book or simply be there in the moment… snuggled in bed with my book is quite my favourite past time.

BELOW – Four more patterns for you to use and an example of the process from start to finish. Each box showing a progression of the doodles, top, left to right, then bottom left to right. You of course would be working one area at a time.   Once finished the drawing, use your 6B or other kind of pencil to shade….see below for a couple of examples.

For the examples above I used a sharpie marker and that’s a good one to use for rough doodles.  The Sakura micron pen however allows you to do fine detail very easily and helps to still a shaky hand.

Here’s an example of  one of my first drawings begun …

 here’s the finished effort ….

Look around you for pattern inspirations, think a quote, what patterns in your home and surroundings catch your eye.  Trawl the web, there are infinite amount of examples out there.

Here’s an example below I did for a page header…

This one below I was experimenting with a watercolour background…

These are really fun…giant plastic word templates from the dollar store!!

Read my article here

When you have completed your doodle, decide which way up it looks best to you, because they can look quite exotic from different angles.

Then shading is really fun, it’s absolutely my favourite part, and the two examples below give you a pretty good idea of how it’s done.  The top image is from my notebook smooth paper, the one below was done on watercolour paper which gives it a slightly rough texture. You can imagine there is a light shining from a certain direction or if you’re like me just do whatever you feel like.  I often shade each section quite differently…again ~ have fun, go with what feels right to you, play! ~ treat it like YOUR pleasure!

Finished drawings are surprisingly eloquent and beautiful, and if you draw as I do, when you begin you have no idea how they will end up. Hard to believe they are built, one small area, one pattern, one line at a time isn’t it?

It’s the shading that creates the flow and movement and depth, and it’s SO easy…. 🙂

Science behind slowing down and just Being! When we disengage the brain from thinking, and move into a more feeling space our breathing slows, our brains flood our bodies with serotonin like substances; and the whole body, mind and spirit settle into feeling harmonious and at peace in the world.  This is where we can unearth our creativity.  Doodling is such a pleasurable way to come into the present moment and let go of any tension. It’s fun, it’s relaxing, it’s great for body and mind and this is the place you will not only create eloquent artistic expressions, but resolve issues and problems that had been causing anxieties and discomfort.

Calm your thinking, get comfortable with, and have fun entertaining your self for fun and for your good health!


  1. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, like you
    wrote the book in it or something. I think
    that you can do with a few pics to drive the message home a little bit, but
    instead of that, this is magnificent blog.
    A great read. I will certainly be back.

    • Monserrate
      Thank you so much for your comments. Very true a few more images would be in order. My apologies for such a late reply… due to being unable to read my comments from error in web site.

      warmly, Lucinda

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