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Unleashing their inner artists

Highland Springs residents tap creative side with new art form, Zentangle

Created date

February 8th, 2016
Audrey Couvillon (left) and Gayle Manassa
Audrey Couvillon (left) and Gayle Manassa

When Gayle Manassa and her husband Dick moved to Highland Springs from Columbus, Ohio, in 2009, Gayle left behind her collection of rubber stamps.

“Stamping was my creative outlet,” says Gayle, a former legal secretary. “I even decorated the walls in one of our bathrooms using stamps.”

After amassing thousands of rubber stamps, the need to downsize took over. 

“I didn’t have room for all my stamps in our apartment at Highland Springs,” says Gayle. “Fortunately, I’m among a community of artists here.”

Gayle is now indulging her artistic sensibilities through Zentangle, an art form using structured patterns to create unique images.

The Zentangle Method, pioneered by Maria Thomas, a letter artist and illustrator, and Rick Roberts, a former monk, has gained worldwide attention since it was introduced in 2003. On their website, Thomas and Roberts describe Zentangle as an abstract art form that “deliberately creates a mood, a focus, a state of mind.”

Artistic sensation

Audrey Couvillon is the driving force behind the Zentangle movement at Highland Springs. Audrey and her husband Jim moved to the North Dallas community when it opened in 2006. 

A nurse by trade, Audrey’s own artistic interests are far-reaching. She enjoys sewing, quilting, and drawing.

“I used to think I was crafty until I met Audrey,” says Gayle. “She sees opportunities for art in the most unusual places.”

Audrey first learned of the Zentangle method through a YouTube video.

“I was intrigued by the repeating patterns, or tangles, and how they can be put together to form something quite unique,” says Audrey. “I thought I’d start a Zentangle group at Highland Springs to see if it appealed to others.”

Audrey held the first Zentangle class at the North Dallas community in April 2015. 

“We meet twice a month, and we’ve had at least one new person join us every meeting,” says Audrey. “It’s really catching on.”

‘Calming effect’

The class typically opens with Audrey teaching one or two new tangles, or repeating patterns. Then she’ll give the class a project. 

“We’ve made bookmarks, cards, and posters,” says Gayle. “For me, Zentangle fills the void left by stamping. It’s spilling over into other parts of my life, too, because I’m constantly looking for patterns. I see them everywhere—in the carpet, in wallpaper. Zentangle draws out my artistic side.”

Because Zentangle requires a concentrated effort, Audrey says the room often goes silent when the class focuses on their individual designs.

“One resident walked by the class and commented that he’d never heard a group of women with nothing to say,” says Audrey with a laugh. “In a way, Zentangle is a form of relaxation. There’s a calming effect when everyone is drawn into their art.”