Doodles, Mandalas and Zentangles


Ever since I can remember, I have been drawing this patterns. I draw them in the corner of notebooks, on bits of paper and recently, being creating art with them. I incorporate them often in Creative Workshops, encouraging people to find the therapy in simple lines, shapes and patterns.

Then came the internet. When I Googled “Doodle” I discovered a whole world of lines that didn’t look like mine. People seem to be doodling strange monsters, words like ‘Zoom’ and ‘Wow’ and repeating endless panda’s everywhere. It seemed my ‘doodles’ weren’t doodles.

A "doodle"
A “doodle”

“Doodle” by Wikipedia

A doodle is a drawing made while a person’s attention is otherwise occupied. Doodles are simple drawings that can have concrete representational meaning or may just be composed of random and abstract lines, generally without ever lifting the drawing device off of the paper, in which case it is usually called a “scribble”.

Wikipedia wasn’t describing the process I have when I doodle. Perhaps, I don’t doodle then. So what do I do? Then I discovered Mandalas. This felt right. Endless patterns, simple lines, repetitive shapes, this was more my style.

A "Mandala"
A “Mandala”

“Mandala” by Wikipedia

A mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Indian religions, representing the universe. In common use, “mandala” has become a generic term for any diagram, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically; a microcosm of the universe.

Or perhaps not. When I do my doodles (that aren’t doodles), I tend to relax. My mind goes blank, or my mind wanders. But either way the lines just flow. It’s not really an Indian religious process, but more of a meditative one. Which then let me to a little something called ‘Zentangle.’

"Sun Birds" - a Zentangle for a book I am working on
“Sun Birds” – a Zentangle for a book I am working on

“Zentangle” by

The Zentangle Method is an easy-to-learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns. Almost anyone can use it to create beautiful images. It increases focus and creativity, provides artistic satisfaction along with an increased sense of personal well being.

It is doodling with awareness and intention. It’s also a creation of patterns and lines, but it is not confined to just a circle with petals, or tea-shapes like a mandala, it can be a tree, a face, anything. The only issue is that it seems it has been coined by some people in America, who are now selling ‘Zentangle’ kits and hosting seminars on it. I congratulate them on doing it, as getting people to find their creative side is always a good thing– but it seems I discovered Zentangle on my own without the kit, or the seminar. I implore to do the same. Grab a pen, grab some people and go on your journey.

Aziza - A zentangle I am working on for a book
“Aziza” – A zentangle I am working on for a book