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    Zentangle draws on her inner peace

    Emily Classon teaches Zentangle, a method of drawing patterns.

    Emily Classon describes herself
    as “a Type-A perfectionist who multitasks while multitasking.”

    “I am high-energy and always doing fifty thousand things,” she said.

    Then Classon, 42, of Lowell, discovered Zentangle, a method of drawing repetitive patterns.


    “It’s creating dots and borders and patterns and letting them grow and evolve,” Classon said. “It’s mindful, deliberate, and intentional.”

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    Zentangle designs, created by Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts of Whitinsville,
    are done with black ink and pencil on a 3½-square-inch tile.

    The “tangles” are abstract and nonrepresentational but often result in artistic pieces, according to

    The process is said to relieve stress; increase self-esteem; help with insomnia, addiction, and anger management; rehabilitate fine motor skills; and improve focus.

    “As the brain is doing it, you’re not thinking about a deadline at work or picking up the kids. You are present in the moment,” Classon said.


    She said there are “no failures” with Zentangles. “It’s all part of the journey and the process.”

    But the result is often a striking piece of art. “My whole life I couldn’t draw beyond stick figures,” she said. “This made me confident. I never considered myself an artist, but I do now.”

    A former librarian who has a graduate degree from the University of Michigan, she heard about Zentangle from a high school friend.

    She took her first class in 2010 and “fell in love with it.” Two years later, she became a certified Zentangle teacher.

    Classon teaches at libraries, schools, birthday parties, and in people’s homes.


    “I had one [event] that was an entire family, children to teens to adults to seniors. Four generations at one party. They bonded and shared in something unique.”

    Zentangle’s motto, she said, is “one stroke at a time,” which translates into situations in people’s lives.

    “People have that ah-ha moment,” she said. “They contact me and say it got them through a difficult time. That is so wonderful to hear.”

    As for herself, Classon said, “It’s a passion and something I have embraced not just as an art form but a philosophy; you can apply to the rest of your life.”

    Classon will conduct a free workshop at the Peabody Institute Library, 82 Main St., Peabody, at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 8. Call 978-531-0100, ext. 10, or visit

    Wendy Killeen can be reached at