Learning to enjoy the creative process with a Zendala

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creative process

Learning to enjoy the creative process with a Zendala

I have spent the last couple of years getting in touch with my inner artist. I had to relearn how much I love to draw, paint, play with clay, journal and make crafts of all kinds. Zentangle® was one of the processes that helped me begin to appreciate my own creativity again. As I approached art in my late 40’s, I found that I had a much different attitude than at other times in my life. I have finally learned how to enjoy the creative process!

In the past, I was so focused on the end product that I was creating, I forgot to have fun. I was overly attached to the outcome instead of being mindful, present and playing during the creative process. Maybe because I am older, or because I am not trying to make art to sell but am completely focused on making art just for me or for friends, I am able to relax into the moment.

The Creative Process requires detachment

I am completely detached from what I create most days (not always, it’s a process!) Practicing non-attachment towards art has allowed me to see where I am too deeply attached to outcomes in other areas of my life. The creative process is a beautiful reflection of how I want to live my life: mindfully, joyfully and in the present moment.

I am comfortable throwing my creations away. It’s more important to have an uncluttered studio to play in than to surround myself with pieces that I don’t love. I have been trying to teach this lesson to my children, too. We don’t need to keep every single bit of paper they touch, just the ones that we really love. I have a special box that I keep their art and projects in. It’s fun to pull it out occasionally so they can see how they are evolving as creative people. Although these days my sons creativity is driven by his favorite computer game, MineCraft, and my daughter prefers baking to coloring, I can see how teaching them to enjoy the creative process has impacted their ability to create freely, with judgement or expectations. And to release what they don’t need, want or love.

Working on a large Zendala

Let’s take the Zendala that I am working on. It’s larger than I normally create, 14 x 17. But I was called to create a big one. Why? I think the satisfaction of the creative process. It’s something to look forward to, to enjoy. I often work in smaller formats like the official Zentangle® tiles which are 3.5″ x 3.5″, a 4×6 journal or my SoulCollage® cards which are 5×8.

My spirit was longing for something that would take time to develop. First, I will enjoy the process of tangling each of the spaces in my template. Second, I will paint the image with watercolors. Finally, I will layer Prismacolor pencils over the watercolors. I am excited to see what I create but not attached. It’s a gentle unfolding of the creative process.

As a busy, working mom of two and wife, carving out time for creative play isn’t always easy. Plus, there’s the allure of Downtown Abby and Hawaii Five O on the DVR… laundry to be folded… books to be read… bills to be paid. Yet I know now, that if I don’t make time for creativity in my life, the rest of my activities feel dulled, boring, pointless. I get grumpy and feel disconnected myself and from God.

Once I made the mental leap from grumpy to oh, I need to create, I realized that the creative process has always been a direct source of connection to God and self for me. I am at my happiest, most divine, most peaceful and most centered when I am being creative. When I allow myself time to play in my craft room, all the other chores and duties seem less bothersome. And of course, I can always fold the laundry while watching the replay of Downtown Abby! For me, 30 minutes in the craft room creates the same mental connection and inner calm that 30 minutes on the meditation cushion creates.

Only once I learned to relax and enjoy the creative process and to be completely detached from the outcome was I able to make that mental leap from disconnection to connection. It will be fun to see how my Zendala evolves over the next week or so. Will it find it’s place on a wall or in a garbage can?

Dr. Minette Riordan is a creativity coach, author and speaker. She is passionate about helping people reconnect to their inner creative source and remember to enjoy the creative process. Her newest project, the HeartWise™ Sister Circle, is a group for women who want a safe place to dust themselves off, remember how to be creative and create a vibrant new vision for their life.


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  1. Darlene Elizabeth Williams on February 22, 2013 at 2:44 am

    I love how you connect your creative time with peace and spiritual connection with God. I am trying my hardest to live in the present and that’s what writing does for me. I must admit I am intrigued by Zendala and have to check it out even though I’m not artistic.

    • minette on February 22, 2013 at 4:22 pm

      Thanks, Darlene! Zentangle is addictive!!

  2. […] my creations. I am in it just for the sake of creating. When I make art I feel alive. I love the creative process and the joy it brings. I don’t need anyone’s approval. I also stopped comparing my […]

  3. […] couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about enjoying the creative process. I was working on the large Zendala (a combination of Zentangle […]

  4. Valcilda on December 28, 2015 at 1:18 am

    Forgot to say congratulations on your award, well devresed and you should post a picture of the second card too at get Creative its fabulous !Marie

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