Zentangle Practice: Like Starting from Scratch

Zentangle Practice: Like Starting from Scratch

I’m trying to ease back into daily Zentangle practice without making a huge mess of my desk or unpacking too many supplies. So I picked up a Zentangle tile yesterday and today to test out some new-to-me media that came in the CZT supply kit.

It turns out that I’ve lost a lot of dexterity in my dominant hand being away from making videos for basically an entire year. So I’m exploring how to embrace shaky, inconsistent lines. At least until I can improve upon them. Accepting wobbly line work is the easy part.

The difficult part is stopping my eyes from rolling around in my head when I look down at the paper. It helps a lot if I keep the tile away from me a bit, but my habit is to nearly put my nose on the paper. I like to really get in there for precision, which isn’t a great habit for filming anyway. Unless I want to cut a whole lot of the back of my head from the footage. So breaking the habit will be to my advantage.

But can I do it?

I do have the old portable drawing table my brother gave me to elevate my drawing surface and get a more suitable angle, but that’s also packed away. It would help my posture, and since I don’t have the overhead camera angle to consider for the webinar, it’s potentially a good idea to ease some of the stress in my neck and shoulders.

I’ll decide whether or not to have Dan set it up for me when it’s closer to training next month. Right now I just want to take a few minutes each day to hold a Micron again. But, also, considering how I want my desk set up isn’t something that I can put off until the last minute. I’m slow. Made slower by constantly having to pivot when something no longer works for me.

Amazingly, my YouTube channel has kept growing during my year-long chemo hiatus. I’m approaching 13,000 subscribers despite saying the police suck at wellness checks and noting how Trump bungled our COVID response—and on a platform rife with complete jerks.

Watch out for more Tangled Talk episodes. No telling who I’ll piss off in the future.

So. Maybe it would be 20,000 subscribers by now if I was willing to color inside the lines. Can you imagine though? If I stop ruffling feathers, that’s how you know I’m dealing with some stuff.

For now, I am content to spend more time blogging, but after we move, lookout YouTube. Speaking of the move, Mom told me this morning that she’s going to be more selective about the pictures she sends me so the big reveal will be more impressive. She did text me this and gave me permission to share it.

Seeing how she sent a picture of a window being installed where one didn’t exist before, the overall impression I’m getting is that really dramatic things are happening.

Also, I gave her the fundraiser status, and she was pretty impressed. I feel like being a professional beggar is how I can contribute. Cancer gives you all kinds of new life skills. Who knew? (Spoiler: literally everyone who currently has or has ever had it.)

Thanks to all of you for helping out. Enjoy your #Caturday.

What Has Two Thumbs?

What Has Two Thumbs?

What has two thumbs and is in a really good headspace today? I’ll give you three guesses.

I don’t know if you can relate, but I’m a little reluctant to announce stuff before it actually happens because…what if it doesn’t, and I just look like an ass? 

Well, I’ve decided today I’m gonna share some good news, however prematurely, because I’m excited and can’t keep it in. I’m attending the online Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT) training this September!

I promise I’m not going to give you an “I’d like to thank The Academy” speech—I’m not that full of myself…yet—but I would like to acknowledge that it wouldn’t be possible without a lot of people pulling for me. Some who had no idea I even existed a few days ago.

In the interest of privacy, I’m not going to drop names here. But I want to tell you about my Zentangle friend. I’ll call her ZF to make this easier.

ZF isn’t just a fellow enthusiast, she’s a CZT who’s had cancer. When I mention towns most people have never heard of, she says, “I know where that is!” She checks in on me when I’ve been quiet. She encourages me to keep going. She even asks about Izzy, my cat.

When she called to give me the news that I’d be able to attend the training, she reminded me I was loved and to keep going. 

And, if you’ve ever been diagnosed with the big C, you’ll probably appreciate what I’m about to say: encouragement from people who’ve capital-B-capital-T Been There just hits different.

ZF will give others the credit, tell you she didn’t really do anything, that so-and-so* actually made this happen. It’s true that other people could have stopped this train at any point down the line, but she got the thing to depart the station.

So I guess what I want you all to know is this:

My bad days are real, and I will no doubt face more of them. I will blog candidly about them when I need to, but the only way I know they’re bad days is because I have good days to compare them to**. 

And the reason the good days exist is because of the goodness of people. People like my Zentangle friend.

Moral of my story: I believe sometimes paying it forward is simply saying the good stuff out loud. I don’t have money or the greatest health, but I have hope and purpose. Maybe it’ll help someone out there to know one of the reasons why.

*Not their real names either.

**I know so many others have made this point before and have done a better job too. So thanks for indulging me. 

The Divine Dove Zentangle

The Divine Dove Zentangle

Things have been going…well, I guess just going here Iately. Father’s Day is tomorrow, and I have lots of feelings, but I don’t feel compelled to write about them. I decided I’d try the Divine Dove Zentangle.

I’d rather Zentangle.

So, I wasn’t intending to, but I accidentally got the June 2021 “Ethereal Desert” subscription box from Archer & Olive. (Get 15% off at A&O with my link.) The box included an A5 notebook with kraft paper in it. There’s no grid or lines printed on the pages, so I thought maybe it would be a good art journal. A place for me to test things, make notes about what I like, have a little therapy time without the burden of posting and editing video, and come up with some ideas that I might turn into my own tutorials for Patrons.

Wanting to put something down on the toned paper immediately, the first thing I drew was some Zen-scribbling with a white Gelly Roll pen when I was feeling all moody about cancer.

And the second thing I drew was the Divine Dove by TangledYogi 333—a tangle she designed that is a celebration of life. Fitting for me in this moment. I think I have mentioned this before, but I have been really into her YouTube channel since I took the Jesse Lane art class last month and learned more about using my Prismacolor pencils because she tends to color instead of shade everything with graphite.

In the tutorial, she colors the background between the dove and the flowers where the random tipple orbs are floating. I opted to leave that section untouched. I do love using the white colored pencil to highlight and add dimension relatively effortlessly.

TangledYogi 333 works on a hexagon tile. So I sketched in a hexagon lightly with pencil and later erased the guides. (Tip for creating a hexagon: draw a circle, mark points on the circle every 60 degrees, then draw straight lines connecting those points to close off the hexagon shape.)

I used the colors she uses in the video, but it’s neat to compare the difference in the appearance of the colors on the white paper she used versus the kraft paper I used.

The lighting is weird, but this is the color key I drew in the same notebook, so I could easily refer to them if I want to use them again for another tangle. (Btw, I have a colored pencil board on Pinterest if you’re looking for inspiration for your Zentangle art. Some of the pins include reference pictures with the specific Prismacolor pencils used—which is super handy.)

Materials Used

Archer and Olive A5 Kraft Notebook
Helix circle maker and ruler (for setting up the hexagonal guides)
Graphite pencil (for sketching the design)
Kneaded eraser (for lifting graphite without damaging the paper’s surface)
Micron black 05 pen
Prismacolor Premier pencils (PC 909, PC 1100, PC 1008, PC 1009, PC 1001, PC 930, PC 912, PC 1006, PC 1065, PC 938)
Gelly Roll white 08 pen

Subscribe to my YouTube channel and help me reach 6,000 subscribers!

More Zentangle Patterns and a Little Home Improvement

More Zentangle Patterns and a Little Home Improvement

There’s a new video up on my channel: 9 Easy Zentangle Patterns for Beginners – Freeform Curves. I ran a poll asking my channel subscribers what interested them most, and an overwhelming majority said they wanted to learn how to draw more Zentangle patterns. (I’m not abandoning other video styles, just prioritizing accordingly.)

This past week, in an effort to distract myself from cancer thoughts (they’re like shower thoughts, but more disturbing) I decided to get out the Prismacolor Premier pencils again. My goal was to complete Tangled Yogi’s Ladybug Love Zentangle tutorial. She uses colored pencil in almost—if not all—of her video tutorials. I posted these process pics on Instagram and Twitter already, but I like looking at them, and, you know, this is my blog.

I never thought I’d be so enamored with colored pencils, but then I got good ones. And I started learning how to use them. Look at the intensity of that color, baby! I’ve also learned that quality paper helps. This tile is one I cut from some larger sheets of the same bristol vellum I used for the Riptide class.


I’m not sure what, if anything, we’ll get done around the house this week. We ordered new exterior shutters, but in addition to Dan and I both managing disabling health conditions (Oh yeah, insurance denied coverage of the medicine Dan’s doctor prescribed and then also denied the appeal. Good times.) removing the old shutters and attaching new ones just seems, like, hard?

We need a handyman. I hate that word, by the way, but am too tired to think of a better one right this second. I know there are all kinds of them around, but I am also too tired to do that level of vetting. I just want to automagically know this singular person who is like, “I will fix everything that needs fixing.” For me, vetting service people is an activity that ranks right up there with talking to customer service representatives and cleaning the litter box.

However, I am occasionally capable of small projects if I have help. For example, Dan and I recently installed new porch lights on the house. Here’s the front one. That’s a new mailbox too.

There’s still a ton of stuff to do though. The ultimate goal is to get the house in shape to sell while also making it more livable until we move. The timeline for all of this is virtually non-existent though. Sick people don’t make plans. Our bodies won’t let us do things most of the time. Plus the money thing is always a problem. If you know, you know.

I feel a not insignificant amount of pressure to get the house in good shape to list, despite everything being uncertain and knowing it’s not in our immediate future, just because houses are selling like toilet paper in a pandemic right now. One two doors down from us sold in about 48 hours for a decent price, and I can’t help but be terrified that the SELL NOW bubble is going to pop before we’re ready. I still have nightmares about dumping that shithole condo in Indianapolis. It. took. forEVER.


One really major thing that would be awesome to do is update our main bathroom. It’s all original fixtures, in terrible shape, and far from accessible. I manage, but not with any peace of mind. (Please don’t suggest grants for the disabled unless you have actually applied for one, been awarded the grant, and you are not a veteran of the armed forces. I have a better chance of finding an actual unicorn for sale at Walmart than having anything I need actually covered and I can tell you how I know.)

I’m starting to get grouchy now, so I’ll stop here and go message another oncologist about when chemo is supposed to happen.

Until later, friends.


How to help

GoFundMe: https://gofund.me/9e56ec1a
PayPal: http://paypal.me/EmilySuess
Venmo: @EmilySuess
CashApp: $EmilySuess

Birthday Stuff(ED)

Birthday Stuff(ED)

I’m averaging 1.67 pieces of birthday cake a day right now. Because when it’s my time, I don’t want to have any regrets. 😀

Yesterday, I went to a Zentangle class on Zoom. It almost didn’t happen because our internet has been so sketchy lately. But luckily the cable guy showed up to fix the line running to our house on Thursday. It’s so refreshing when things actually work out!

It was a great class, and I’m glad I did it. But I learned something about myself as it relates to learning Zentangle: I need independent study as opposed to live classes. The class lasted about three and a half hours, and I was seated in my horribly uncomfortable office chair the whole time. What will work better for me in the future is to seek out on-demand courses that are not live. That way I can pause, get up, lie down, sit in the sun for a few minutes—whatever I need to do to prevent my muscles from freezing into that awkward, seated-in-a-shoddy-office-chair position.

Because, let me tell ya, it’s really hard to walk to the bathroom afterward when your knees and waist are stuck at 90-degree angles.

Another reason to avoid Zoom classes when possible is to not see myself on camera. I’ve all but stopped looking in mirrors at home because it hurts to look at that tired, worn-out, cancer addled person. I’m not one to live in denial of reality, but I am one who tries not to force it upon myself at every available opportunity.

Anyway, the class and the teacher were wonderful, and here’s the Monet-inspired 3D Zentangle I created:

I love it, but I also want a do-over because there are things I want to change. I think I could do better. And by “better” I just mean that I know what I could do to like it even more. Luckily, Holly, the creator of this Monet 3D Zentangle class, gave participants PDF files of the shapes needed to recreate the water lily. I thought that was really generous.

So that Zentangle class was my birthday gift to myself this week. To continue celebrating all month long, I’ve opened up my webserial memoir, Who You Gonna Believe, to everyone. Sometimes creating this memoir in small chunks makes it feel like I’m not making a whole lot of progress on the writing front, but when I step back and gain a little perspective, I realize that writing 22 chapters (so far!) of anything is quite an accomplishment.

I hope you’ll read it. I’m not going to pretend it’s the greatest piece of literature ever written, but I do know that it resonates with some readers—because they’ve told me so. Right now it’s only available to read in a browser, but those pages are specifically designed to make the reading experience enjoyable, even if you’re on a mobile device. (At some point in the future I hope to make e-reader friendly versions, but time, money, health. You know the drill.)

Other than that, things are…going. I’m trying to suss out a new med due to some insurance changes and preparing to get my second dose of the coronavirus vaccine on Wednesday. I am prepared for that to wipe me out pretty good again, so I’ve cleared off my to-do list for Wednesday though Saturday next week, literally writing things like “rest” and “sleep all day” in my Bullet Journal.

Speaking of Bullet Journal, the other thing I got myself for my birthday was the March subscription box from Archer & Olive. It’s scheduled to arrive the day of my shot, so I’ve got a little something to look forward to. Its contents are a surprise (there are some spoilers begin posted online but I am avoiding them). I enjoyed the first one I got so much I decided to spring for another. I anticipate I’ll do some kind of post about unboxing after it arrives, though I’m not sure if I’ll do a video, write up a blog post, or just post to my Instagram. A lot of things are going to depend on how I’m feeling.

I guess that’s not really any different than usual though.

If you’ve been thinking about Bullet Journaling or just want to know what it is, I’ve got a few videos on my channel. You can watch me as I learn (struggle?) to use it for managing my life with chronic illness.

Also, if you’re new to Archer & Olive, you can save 15% with this referral link they gave me. (You don’t pay any extra, but I get a bonus for referring you if you do decide to get yourself a little something.) You don’t have to buy the subscription box, if there are even any left. You can just buy individual notebooks and planning supplies—whatever. The prices might feel a little high if your budget is tight like mine, but the paper is 160 gsm, and you can use markers and watercolors and junk on it without any bleed-through. As someone who doesn’t get my hair done, get my nails done, go to the moves, drive anywhere or wear anything but pajamas, I feel zero guilt about the expenditure. Your mileage may vary though.

I’m just rambling now. Bottom line: don’t forget to bookmark the Table of Contents for Who You Gonna Believe. And if you haven’t received your vaccine yet, I hope it’s available to you soon. Regardless, stay masked and stay safe until the experts (not the politicians) give you the all clear.

Pin It on Pinterest