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The Tantalizing Tangles of Zentangle Art

American artist Maria Thomas and her husband Rick Roberts developed the Zentangle method in 2003 as a way of making creative expression available to anyone, amateur doodlers and trained artists alike. Its simple approach starts with drawing patterns of dots, lines, curls and shapes — “tangles” — on small pieces of paper, then arranging those “tiles” into a larger, abstract pieces.

While Zentagle is freeform and generally non-representational, its intricate patterns can be assembled into images of recognizable things — including, as featured on a new 2018 $30 Fine Silver coin from the Royal Canadian Mint, animals like the Great Horned Owl.

No erasers allowed

The repetitiveness of the Zentangle method not only unleashes creativity but also provides a relaxing, stress-relieving activity. Most times, there’s no goal in mind when beginning a Zentangle piece: it’s about the process of creating complexity from simplicity. There are no mistakes in a Zentangle!

Since its introduction, Zentangle art has spread around the world, with teachers and workshops in over 40 countries including Canada. Saskatoon-based Margaret Bremner has been a certified Zentangle teacher since 2010. Her Zentangle work — done mainly in coloured pencil — explores spirituality and symbolism. BC’s Loretta West, also a Zentangle instructor, focus on nature imagery enhanced and embellished by Zentangle-influenced patterns.*zx6Lf5a2nefrI1sWm___Fg.jpeg

Pure Silver Coin — Zentangle® Art: The Great Grey Wolf

In 2017, Jori van der Linde created the first-ever Zentangle coin design for the Mint: a dynamic, eye-dazzling depiction of a Great Grey wolf. A graduate of Emily Carr University of Art and Design, van der Linde routinely blends modern and traditional techniques in her work. With a focus on intricate detail, she has designed book covers, illustrated children’s books, and been featured and recognized by the Society of Illustrators and Creative Quarterly.

Van der Linde’s coin design was so compelling, the Mint invited her back to create the 2018 $30 Fine Silver Great Horned Owl.*rzPN0YDkDJmxw3YldAE6tQ.jpeg

Pure Silver Coin — Zentangle® Art: The Great Horned Owl

The Majesty and Mystery of Nature

Zentangle’s structured patterning brings an immense amount of abstract, wild detail to the magnificent Great Horned Owl on the new coin — producing a unique hybrid of traditional nature art and children’s fairy tale illustration.

The coin’s enlarged diameter provides extra space to showcase the Zentangle intricacies — enhanced by multiple proof finishes that distinguishes each element from the next. Precision engraving and frosting brings the repeating patterns to life, almost as if the owl’s feathers are moving. Even the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse is set against a field lightly evoking the Zentangle style.

With incredibly intricate details that reward repeated examinations, the 2018 $30 fine silver Great Horned Owl coin takes coinmaking — and Zentangle art — to new heights that have to be seen to be believed.

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