Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Language and Art

Words and pictures. Each one provides a way to express our innermost feelings and outermost observations, but in very different ways. The analytical, linear, logical left brain uses language to navigate and describe life. The creative, imaginative, intuitive right brain, having no language at its disposal, uses art. Both writing and art are equally important because both sides of the brain have important things to tell us. For me, I grasped onto both words and pictures as a means to describe my world at an early age and continue to explore both forms of expression.

Northern Lights Elementary School 5th Grade Class mosaic #1!
In February, I had the honor of sharing my experience in both writing and art with 80 fifth graders at Northern Lights Elementary School (NLES) in Superior, Wisconsin. Teacher Julie Tersteeg asked me to speak to the fifth grade class about my educational journey, with a focus on the importance of learning to write well, and to share my love of the Zentangle (R) method of pattern drawing with the fifth grade class. The students had already been using the zentangle method of pattern drawing in class, so this artistic outlet was not new to them.

Class mosaic #2 created on February 26, 2014!

On February 26, I journeyed to NLES and in one hour I talked and talked and then drew and drew, first with 40 students and then with 40 more. The students were polite, asked interesting questions, and drew beautiful tangles (artwork created using the zentangle method).

Collaborative art!

Before I left, inside recess had begun and I was thrilled to see students practicing the patterns we had drawn together in class. (The temperature was below the -20 degree threshold for outside recess.)

Creativity in action during inside recess.

After my visit, fifth grade teachers Julie Tersteeg, Stacy Burfield, Kathleen Beiswenger, and Stephanie Gillman asked their students to use artwork created using the zentangle method as a creative writing prompt, resulting in 80 imaginative, delightful, and, in some cases, profound short stories with accompanying artwork.


I am excited to share their creativity with you, here, in the posts that follow over the next week. I hope you enjoy reading their stories and appreciate the students' art as much as I did.

Note: I have received teacher and parental permission to post all stories and artwork shared here
and in the posts that follow. To learn more about the Zentangle method of pattern drawing and find a certified teacher near you, visit To learn about my journey to and through Zentangle, read more here.


  1. What an exciting endeavor! I'm really looking forward to the posts to come, and seeing/reading the works produced by these students!

  2. What a delightful experience - the students' writings were amazing to read. Thanks for sharing it.

  3. Fascinating! I too look forward to reading more about this!

  4. Thank you for your lovely comments. All of the stories have been posted already. Go to and scroll down to this original post to read more. There are approximately 25 stories, posted 3-4 per day. Enjoy!!