Meditation unappealing? Try tangling

Jerryann Haggart is an artist of many trades but her newest love is Zentangle

Jerryann Haggart teaches Zentangle workshops for parties and businesses as well as at the studio in her home.

Jerryann Haggart has dabbled in all sorts of art. As a child she started with mud pies and arranging sandwiches. “You’re so artistic” her mother would proclaim and so Haggart explored art.

She had tested all of the mediums from woodcarving to watercolour but her most recent endeavour, and newest love, is Zentangle.

“The motto is anything can be accomplished one stroke at a time,” Haggart said.

Simply put, Zentangle is creating images by filling a defined space with repetitive patterns. There are guidelines and rules but there are no mistakes. Everyone can learn to do Zentangle and that is the point.

“Expectations are the achilles heal of producing art,” Haggart said. With Zentangle there is no planned outcome and the artist just follows their pencil.

At the first workshop she ever did, her teacher said that she started tangling to manage the pain and stress from her various auto-immune conditions. Haggart thought she had better try it for herself.

She travelled to Providence, R.I. to become a Zentangle instructor in October of 2013.

Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts created Zentangle when they realized that Thomas went into a meditative state when she was doing calligraphy.

“Because it started as a meditative practice, it breaks down peoples barriers to their perception of what they can’t do,” Haggart said.

Since she began tangling and teaching others to tangle, Haggart has seen many success stories. She has engaged with vulnerable children through Zentangle and helped successful adults connect with their inner artist.

“I see it so often that people think they have to do a certain thing before they can call themselves an artist,” she said. “I believe that everyone is an artist.”

What started as pen and ink has grown. Haggart now creates water colour backgrounds to tangle on. She goes beyond the basic shapes to tangle animals and she has recently combined beach coming with tangling so that her and her golden retriever Muppet can get out to the beach more. She tangles in the shells that she finds and arranges them in deep-box picture frames with the other treasures that she collects from the beach.

For Haggart Zentangle isn’t just about the art, it is about empowering people, which is an important part of her life.

After completing a masters of divinity with the United Church of Canada, Haggart decided to avoid the politics of the church and got a job at a street centre in a large blue collar town in Ontario.

“The people that came through the doors were all of the people who fall through the cracks,” she explained.

A single mother for a time, Haggart also worked as a book keeper and eventually an accountant.

“I found the two were a really good balance,” she said. “One was full of crisis and no clear answers and the other was black and white, you could always balance to the penny.”

No matter where her life took her, Haggart was always doing art. In some places she would open up a studio in others she would just work on her personal art.

Haggart eventually moved to Ladysmith and worked at the resources centre before getting her dream job with School District 72. She implemented the StrongStart program, which is a drop-in early learning program for children from birth to Kindergarten and their parents or caregivers.

Haggart is now retired and loving it because now she has more time for her art. Last month she was on the east coast visiting her mother and doing Zentangle workshops in the area. She also lead a huge Zentangle conference in Portland, Maine while she was away.

Haggart can be found at