Churchville-Chili MS banishing stress with art

Messenger Post Media
Monroe County Post

It’s been a tough year for students everywhere, but at Churchville-Chili 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 Zentangle to create patterns and enjoy the focused mindfulness of the 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. Students drew into the turtles with simple, repeated patterns called “tangles.” The line art is meant to be unplanned and non-representational, growing organically, stroke by stroke.

Churchville-Chili seventh grader Malena Leastman shares her boldly blended Zen Turtle.

Students added color and various blending techniques to finish their designs, exploring warm or cool color families, and bright or pastel shades. Every finished turtle was reflective of the individual student’s personality.

While some students used a spontaneous approach, careful organization was central to many of the overall designs. 

Maren Freece creates a delicately patterned turtle.

“My zentangles were planned out,” Madelyn Pier said. “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.” 

Pier added that the most calming part for her was the blending. 

“I don’t know why, but it just made me feel relaxed,” she said. 

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.”

Zentangle artwork by Sofia Lagares.

Dodd and library media specialist Julia Loson collaborated on setting up a Zen Turtle art show to give students an opportunity to share their work and get feedback from their peers.

“The project has some excellent grade-level design concepts,” Dodd said. “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.”

Cullen Hunter colors a rainbow turtle with a many-patterned shell.