Zentangle workshop teaches the art of being stress-free


Nikita Bankar

Author Nikita Bankar’s zentangle drawing created during an online zoom meeting on May 3.

Nikita Bankar

Foothill College Psychological Services instructor Jenny McGrath taught the art method called zentangle as a way of limiting stress in an online zoom meeting on May 3.

Being a technique of lines, curves and shading, zentangle is a style that allows shapes to come off the page while still maintaining an overlapping look. McGrath said that it is a way to create beautiful images while still relaxing.

“Our goal is to have a space where students, faculty and staff can come participate in a mindfulness activity, to reduce stress and promote wellbeing,” she said.

After starting the zoom meeting, McGrath immediately went over the purpose of the workshop, which was to both provide a space of creativity and become a place where students could remain calm.

For the workshop, McGrath shared the materials that would be necessary, which included a small sheet of paper, a gel or felt-tipped pen, a pencil and a q-tip for shading. Throughout the meeting, she stopped after each step to make sure students were following along.

McGrath, who was demoing Zentangle, helped attendees learn to take their time while working through each step. She made it easy to forget all worries, allowing each individual to focus on themselves and their art and ensuring everyone attending that it was alright if their pieces looked different from hers.

“We’re not trying to reach perfection, we’re just enjoying the art and this time,” she said.

Rashmi Bharadwaj, 46, UCDavis grad and tech consultant, was one of the attendees of the workshop. She said that she joined to get her energies flowing, as she often feels stuck in her mind.

“I did enjoy the process,” Bharadwaj said. “Not only is it a stress buster, but it’s also healing in many ways and makes me feel better at the end of it, not to mention there is beauty that we create.”

Alexis Donato, Foothill College counselor and professor of Psychological Services came up with the idea of the Zentangle workshop during quarantine with McGrath, which they have continued since 2020.

(It was) a way to help students stay connected during the lockdown, and a way to take care of mental health by doing something different than traditional mindfulness meditation,” Donato said.

Donato said that zentangle is something anyone can do, which is why it is such a wonderful activity.

“It’s great for people who may not feel they’re artists,” she said. “If you can draw lines and circles, zentangle is definitely for you. It’s like yoga for your mind!”