One of the steps in Zentangle® is to start by drawing a 'string', lines that divide your page into sections, which you can then fill with various tangle patterns.
The most common method of creating a Zentangle string is to imagine you've dropped a string on the page, and draw the lines. Or you can use templates such as those provided at Tanglepatterns.com.
Occasionally, I like to use a landscape as the basis for a string. Recently, a friend of mine, Lynne Howard, posted a beautiful photo she'd taken, and I thought it had the potential for a great string. With her permission, I share it with you, and I'll show you the two ways I used it.
In this photo, the elements create shapes. The shape of the waterfall, the river, the trees, the bank.
I didn't worry about details, and there was no effort to make my drawing look like the photo.
I simply drew the outlines of the major shapes.
Once I'd drawn the shapes, I put the photo aside and just tangled whatever patterns I please.
Note, that usually strings are drawn with pencil and are meant to disappear into the completed tangles. They are a way to begin the Zentangle and are not meant to be noticed in the final product. However, in this case, I used pen and kept the string outlines so you would see the shapes I started with.
If you saw this piece, without reading the explanation, you'd never know I used a landscape as the basis for it.
Using the same photo, I decided I wanted to depart further from the traditional Zentangle and create a piece that actually resembled a landscape.
I still wasn't looking for realism, or to make my finished piece look like the photo. However, this time, I used the photo to both pick out my shapes and to guide my choice of tangle patterns.
Patterns such as Hollibaugh, Zanholli and Zapateado were used to give a wood and brush feel. Purk was used for the stones. Pokeroot and a Pokeleaf type pattern was used for foliage. Mooka and Flux (not found online) were used for an impression of foam and splash. Flukes and Cubine were used within the waterfall, and Crescent Moon was used for the river because it suggests ripples to me.
I don't recommend this method if you are seeking the 'Zen' relaxation of Zentangle drawing, because you can get wound up in trying to make your piece too realistic, or in searching for just the right tangle pattern. But it's lots of fun, if you want a little challenge.
You don't have to have a photo to create strings like this. What about the shapes in your living room or your backyard? Inspiration is everywhere. Sometimes we stop looking closely at places we are used to. This can also be a fun way to 'rediscover' the everyday world around you.
This Zentangle-Inspired art was drawn in the Rhodia Swap Journal I am currently working in. You can see what others are doing at the Rhodia Journal Swap on Tumblr.