Most helpful critical review
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Definitely not for the beginning tangler
on November 8, 2014
This is not a beginner's book. On page 11 (eleven!) are samples of tangles that require keen skills for freehand drawing: proportional spacing, complex repetitive patterns, illusions of depth and overlapping that require the ability to project into space, shading that needs basic instruction--if not mastery--of how round objects reflect light. Did you think doodling just required a pen or a pencil? On page 8 you learn that to really begin your adventure you need a collection of tools that includes exquisite papers, archival pens, pencils, colored pencils, markers, gel pens, erasers, and, wait for it, a lightbox! All just to do "meditative line drawings." On page 12 (twelve!) the reader is shown eight complex tangles, with no instructions on how to build them from standard elemental pieces, just an invitation to fill in the empty practice boxes with "watever moves you." On page 19, you are told you can draw animals and that you can see outlines of creatures in cracks in sidewalks. You don't need to be trained to see things in the cracks in sidewalks! The authors would have you believe it's just something everyone can do. All you have to do is open your mind, breathe, pick up your pen (or gels or markers) and "go zen." Nonsense.
I'm a photographer. Anyone can take pictures. Not everyone can be documentary filmmaker or a portrait photographer by simply picking up a camera. There are fundamental skills required: f-stops, shutter speeds, lens selection, lighting, composition. You can't just pick up a wad of mud and start throwing teapots, either.
Many reviews of this book are written by people who can draw; they say upfont, "I'm an artist." Those of you who can draw may not remember how hard it was for you in the distant past or perhaps you were blessed with the gift of eye-hand coordination that allowed you make a sketch of an egg look like an egg. Drawing, even the most casual doodling, takes some fundamental skills. This book does nothing to help the new tangler, the guy who wants to get in on this kookie new craze but who has never been able to or has never learned to draw a smooth arc, a reasonable circle, a straight line, or a series of loops. With every turn of the page of The Art of Zentangle, the beginner is confronted with beautifully perfect drawings, impossibly complex and intimidating, placed next to an empty box enthusiastically but discouragingly labeled, "Practice here!"
The authors have misled their audience of beginners by offering little in the way of instruction while displaying the results of many thousands of hours of work and practice by skilled artists. They intimidate by example instead of inspiring by patience and progressing through skills development.
You buy this book because you can draw, and draw well, or you already know what's going on with this zentangle stuff. You do not buy this book if you cannot draw. It will only hurt your feelings. (Yes, I can draw. But I still view the world of creativity through the eyes of those who struggle. Tangling shoudl be for everyone. This book does not address the needs of the wannabe. More's the pity.)