Lynne Bonessi-Martinelli’s involvement with Zentangle, a relaxed focus art form where the artist creates beautiful images by drawing structured patterns, started when she saw one in a store.
“Every summer, I like to try something new,” said Martinelli, “so in the summer of 2011, I took a class.” A year later, she traveled to Rhode Island to become certified in Zentangle.
The Upper St. Clair resident found Zentangle easy to learn and to do, but also discovered it encourages people to be more conscious of their environment by becoming more aware of the patterns around them.
“We are surrounded by patterns – clothing, nature, buildings, daily routines,” Martinelli said. “As people create tangles, they tend to become more aware of beauty around them.”
With the trademark tag line: “You can do anything, one stroke at a time,” Zentangle overcomes lack of artistic ability, lack of time, and other obstacles that tend to block creativity.
According to Martinelli, art is in everything we do. “Whether shoveling snow, playing basketball, swimming, or going on vacation, anything can be done with artistic grace.”
Zentangles are created on 3 1/2-inch squares, very high quality paper tiles, with high quality pens and pencils.
“All pen strokes are deliberate and intentional,” said Martinelli. “This is related to other actions we take in life that are deliberate and intentional.”
Just as there is no eraser in life, there is no eraser in Zentangle. Martinelli said that in life you can only move from where you are, and in Zentangle, you can always build a new pattern.
In addition to helping people to relax and focus their attention, Martinelli said Zentangle can be used in educational and therapeutic settings, providing a method of journaling, reflection and analysis, personal growth, and increased confidence. Other applications for use include stress management, inspiring new ideas and creativity, and supporting healthy group dynamics.
Martinelli especially enjoys introducing Zentangle to groups and putting all the tiles together to create a beautiful mosaic. “Every tile retains its individuality, yet contributes to the group. Seeing the mosaic can be a moving experience.”
Martinelli has presented Zentangle classes at Manor Care, Sunrise Assisted Living, and other senior groups. She remembers one woman who couldn’t hear what Martinelli was saying, but was able to make a Zentangle because she could see the process.
She has also taught Zentangle classes at Gilda’s Club Western PA in the Strip District, and said that Zentagle has been helpful for a friend going through chemotherapy.
“People enjoy seeing what they created and seeing the mosaic at the end,” said Martinelli. “We’re all creators, but sometimes we think we’re not needed. Seeing all the tiles together demonstrates the impact something small has on a community.”
Martinelli has a master’s degree in education, and has a goal of introducing Zentangle to schools. In addition to helping students focus, she said Zentangle can help create a positive environment and bring people together.
“I didn’t expect to get so much out of Zentangle,” said Martinelli. “I have a passion for it. It’s enabled me to connect with people in a positive way, and to create some peace and beauty.”