What Is anAlphaZenHandleBet?

Its not (necessarily) a new art form, in fact, I made my first one in 1977 during my Senior year in High School, which was drawn using a crow quill pen dipped in ink from a ceramic cup, and painstakingly drawing patterns on an enlarged drawing (30" x 40") of my hand. The project took me several months to complete. I wish I still had it, but it was "lost," during a divorce in 1991, along with most of my other Art projects from high school and college.

When I became a teacher and began looking for projects to share with my students using the Elements of Art & the Principles of Design, I skipped ahead to "Pattern," as it had intrigued me for some time. It occurred to me I had discovered the same thing the couple, Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts, (the creators of Zentangle) had: you don't have to be a professional Artist to design and draw.

Since I am easily distracted, I often combine different methods of creating Art. I had created letters with patterns in them in previous years, but when COVID necessitated distance-teaching this year I decided to do something a bit different, adding my traced hand over the letter, "J" (example below), I had a flashback to 1977 and my Senior project.

While drawing the several examples I created for the three Middle School classes I've been teaching this quarter (Q3, in 2021), the name of the project changed a few times. Meditating on marketing this as a coloring page alphabet as I drew, I finally settled on AlphaZenHandleBet, which gives a nod to the Zentangle process Maria and Rick trademarked several years ago. You can see the progression on the bottom of each drawing as I developed the name), written in ink as each was completed.

Here's a link to the kind of music I've been listening to in class while students work. And here's some Maranatha Praise music too...

Ink drawing of the letter "J" and my left hand, filled with patterns.

Ink drawing of the letter "J" and my left hand, filled with patterns.

The original assignment was for each student to draw the letter of their first or last name; since I have three classes, and didn't want to draw the letter "J" three times, I thought, "Oh, maybe I'll (eventually) do the entire alphabet," so period 2 began with the letter "A."

Ink drawing of the letter "A" and my left hand, filled with patterns.

Ink drawing of the letter "A" and my left hand, filled with patterns.

By 3rd period, I changed my original goal, noting that, since I have three children, maybe I'd begin with their three initials, and give them to each as a gift. This letter, "E," is for my eldest daughter, Erika.

Ink drawing of the letter "E" and my left hand, filled with patterns.

Ink drawing of the letter "E" and my left hand, filled with patterns.


For the next letter, I skipped to the end of the alphabet, as our daughter, Erika recently had a baby and named her "Zoë." (With slight apologies for my son-in-law, Bryan, whose letter I'm currently working on).

Since COVID affected our schools, and since I was super-remote-teaching from Tucson, Arizona, to San Diego, California, I have been searching for ways to teach Art and Design without materials. This image was painted using Pixlr.com, which is similar to PhotoShop, but free. I've only just begun to learn (in fact, this example, below, was my first piece).