Article: Banishing stress with art

Banishing stress with art

Maren Freece and her turtle

It’s been a tough year for students everywhere, but at Churchville-Chili’s Middle School some of them have discovered a fun, easy way to relax and be creative. Seventh-graders in teacher Charmagne Dodd’s art class learned how to use the art of Zentangle® to create beautiful patterns and enjoy the focused mindfulness of creative process.
Their art project began with a choice of several existing drawings of turtles, as this basic shape was the foundation for the real challenge. From here, students drew into the turtles with a variety of simple, repeated patterns, called “tangles.” The line art is meant to be unplanned and non-representational, growing organically, stroke by stroke.
Students added color and a variety of blending techniques to finish their designs, exploring warm or cool color families, and bright or pastel shades. Every finished turtle was unique and reflective of the individual student’s personality.
While some students used a very spontaneous approach, careful organization was central to many of the overall designs. “My zentangles were planned out,” said Madelyn Pier. “On the shell, you can see that the patterns repeat every other time. I had a plan for color, too. Every cool color on the turtle is always touching a hot color.” She said that the most calming part for her was the blending. “I don’t know why, but it just made me feel relaxed.”
Student Kaitlyn Pozzuolo visualized herself and her turtle on a warm, sunny beach. “I tried to make my turtle as realistic as possible,” she said. “I used different shades of brown on its shell so that it looked like it was facing away from the sun.”
“The project has some excellent grade-level design concepts,” said art teacher Dodd. “It reinforces previously learned skills and helps kids think more about composition. They tend to get a little lost in this…they really concentrate and enjoy the meditative properties of the evolving patterns.”
As a final treat for artists, Dodd and Library Media Specialist Julia Loson collaborated on setting up a Zen Turtle art show at the Middle School library to give students an opportunity to share their work and get feedback from their peers.

Feature photo: Student Malena Leastman shares her boldly-blended Zen Turtle.

This page: Maren Freece and her delicately patterned turtle.

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