One mistake I am glad I made

Sep 29, 2021 | English, Inspiration, Practice

There is one mistake I am glad I made. Here is what it taught me.

When you have a creative practice, you sometimes face obstacles and mental blocks. With the Zentangle® Practice specifically, I often hear, in my classes, about shading as being one such obstacle.

Shading is indeed a creative pain point for a lot of people. It seems people especially struggle with it when they start practicing with the Zentangle Method. Myself included!

It wasn’t until I made a “big mistake” on one of my tiles that I was able to finally see what could be done with shading and free myself from my own mental block. And I was so glad I made that mistake afterward.

But at that time, it almost felt like the end of the world! Funny how our thoughts can take over so easily, right? Noticing my thought and asking myself if I need to listen to it has helped me pause my thinking when it becomes overwhelming.

But back to the point of the “welcomed” mistake.

ArtsAmuse One Mistake I am glad I made close up

Pour découvrir la différence au niveau de l’ombrage, vous devez d’abord savoir quels sont vos blocages mentaux.

Different mental blocks people have regarding shading :

  • I don’t know how to shade
  • I put too much shading
  • I put too little shading
  • I don’t know what to shade
  • I don’t like how I shade


ArtsAmuse One Mistake I am glad I made Person making mistake

Once you have a better idea of what is blocking you, you can start to look for a way to go beyond that.

I remember not liking the ways I shaded. I thought it was often bland.

This experience brings me to a couple of tips I want to share with you about shading.

Tip #1: Learn to choose.

Shading is about choice. What part of your tile do you want to showcase?

Put the accent on that. Experiment. Learn to choose what works for you.

Tip #2: Find the balance.

Remember, we’re talking about black and white and shades of gray. If one color is too prominent, whether black, white or gray, you won’t see the rest as well, and your tile will look bland.

Maintain a balance between each shade to add contrast. Make sure your focal point is the most or least shaded to draw attention to it.

Tip #3: Go for lightness.

Keep a light hand. Pushing too much on your paper with your pencil is not going to help you. It’s better to add graphite in successive layers than to press too hard to create shadows. You won’t be able to blend the pencil lines and create the type of shading that you want.

Practice, practice, practice. Try different ways of shading, pressing more or less with your pencil on your paper. Blend it and see what works for you.

We are all shading differently. Don’t try to copy someone else’s work exactly. Find your way to do it. Your work will look better for it because it will be yours.

Now, I know I told you about this mistake I made.

Let me tell you the story of this memorable mistake :

I had started this tile, and I really liked where it was going. Unfortunately, I suddenly drew a line in a completely wrong direction. I made this “big mistake” with a pen!

At that point, I thought this was the end of it. I was about to discard what I had drawn even though I liked it. And then, I remembered the Zentangle Method’s philosophy of “There are no mistake.”

I looked at my tile and asked myself: “where can I go from here?”

That’s when I realized that if I added a lot of shading on that area, I might not see that line much at the end, and it would maybe work out.

I had nothing to lose.

Thus, I started to experiment with more shading than I had ever done before. I tried different layers to see what worked or not.

I ended up loving the tile once finished! It was a revelation. There was much more I could do with shading than I ever thought of before!

It opened the door to so many other possibilities.

This is the moment I realized this was a mistake I am glad I made.

What do you think of it?

ArtsAmuse One Mistake I am glad I made No Mistake
This is the finished tile, you can still a bit of the “mistake”.

It also taught me a lesson.

Here is my last advice for you today :

You have nothing to lose.


Make mistakes.

Explore something new.

Draw some more.

Practice again and again.

Enjoy the process.

Have fun!

Remember that we are the main obstacle to our creativity.

This pool of creativity we have inside us, all these ideas and inspiration, we can only access it when we are relaxed, even as we draw. When we think over much, it will elude us.

Maybe all you and I need to learn is to enjoy the process, see where it takes us, let the inspiration bubble up from inside us, and show us the way we need to go.

This exploration simply for the sake of exploration wil bring you joy and well-being. Remember, nothing is set in stone and everything can happen.

Learn to get this point where you can say to yourself: “this is a mistake I am glad I made”.

Let a line drawn where it wasn’t supposed to lead the way to a new way of seeing and playing.

What do you have to lose?

Until next time,


PS: Read more tips and inspiration to help with your creative practice here: Inspiration Archives – ArtsAmuse or here A No Mistakes Philosophy…On And Off The Tile. – Zentangle

PS: I have a unique course that might interest you to practice losing the fear of making mistakes. Check it out here:

ArtsAmuse Workshops OOPS go beyond mistakes
Skip to content