Artist Focus – Christel Foncke

Life before Zentangle®

Christel FonckeI spent my professional career as head of administration and book keeping for our company. Sounds kind of boring, no? Yes, especially for me because my brain is always hungry for new things. So when computers emerged, I could engage in teaching myself all sorts of new things, like programming databases. Later in life I coached people in time management and work organisation.   Way before the digital era photography was my hobby, 15 years ago, I became a passionate golfer.

I had a dream. All my life I dreamt of being able to draw but was sad and frustrated that I couldn’t. This was a very strong conviction. I had a few unsuccessful attempts learning to draw but they only convinced me more that I just had to face it, I had no talent whatsoever for drawing.

Zentangle® first contact

In September 2015 I first saw Zentangles® on Google.  I could not believe my eyes when I saw all the beautiful artwork. It was like a whole new world opened and I knew then and there: this is it!  I started practicing patterns every day and practicing was not a burden, on the contrary, it was pure joy. I am a very structured and organised person, so I thought I would be a grid person 🙂 Gradually I learnt my love for organic and curvy patterns.  This is one of my early practice sheets for the pattern Crux. I collected some variations on the pattern in one sheet.

Artwork by Christel Foncke

In 2016 I felt confident enough to join some Facebook groups and found the courage to start posting my drawings and receive feedback.  It is such a joy to be able to share my drawings with other like minded people. Their positive feedback is very motivating and I am grateful for their encouragement.

My favorite part of drawing has always been shading. It never ceases to amaze me how dramatic a drawing can change after shading. You can see how my shading and coloring abilities changed in less than a year.  Thanks to the ‘Shading Zentangle®’ group of Eni Oken


Pattern Mak-Rah-Mee by Shelly Beauch

Some of my tiles from early 2016

Artwork by Christel Foncke

Artwork by Christel Foncke

Artwork by Christel Foncke

Artwork by Christel Foncke


How it changed my life

I am so happy  to have found this missing part in my life: a way to express my creative self.  I realise that drawing is not something you can or can’t. It’s something you can learn and the best way is through something that fits your personality. For me that was Zentangle®. It was my entrance into the creative world.  I still can’t believe I spent so many years thinking that I was not creative and couldn’t draw.  I need it, like I need food. I need this daily dose of creativity. It is my counterbalance to all the negativity in the world and it is my connection to other people. It’s an interesting topic to talk about and I have already inspired many people into being more creative.  It makes me happy to make other people happy with my drawings or by inspiring them to find their creative self.

Digital tangling

When my cousin suggested to start tangling digital, I said “Never, only the real thing for me.” Since I spent so much time behind a computer in my life, I wanted to keep drawing away from the computer. I also dreaded the time and effort it would take to learn and a I also had a few misconceptions about digital drawing. So, I wasn’t very motivated.

In November 2016 I wanted to make Christmas cards from my drawings. I wanted to donate the proceeds to a project in Nepal. To make a more professional printout, I needed to learn how to clean them up digitally. I had no experience with that at all, but it was necessary.  And yes it took me a lot of time and effort to get familiar with the Apple Pencil and the drawing software Procreate, but now I am so glad I started that process. It took my drawing skills to an all new level.

Procreate became my play garden. Experimenting with colors made me more confident and then one day I made my first bold black drawing  inspired by ‘striping with a twist‘ by the very inspirational Margaret Bremner. And I really liked the look and feel of it.  I remembered why I liked the black and white tangles so much. In Procreate I could give it a whole new dimension.

It was like a virus. I started to make a series of 10 and got a lot of positive feedback. I was amazed myself about how beautiful my tangles came out and I became bolder and bolder in drawing and shading.
Finally a pressing question was answered. I often wondered when would I be willing to put my own drawings on the wall? When does something become art? Well, with my Bold Black Beauties series I don’t hesitate for a minute to put them on the wall. I would even, maybe, dare to call them art.

I am very happy to share how I create a bold black beauty.

In this case I started on paper with micron pen and shading with grey marker, pencil and some hatching.

Before on paper
Artwork by Christel Foncke
Finished on paper

Artwork by Christel Foncke

I scanned the drawing and started fresh from the lineart. First adding black in stripes

Artwork by Christel Foncke
I make a separate layer for the black shading


Artwork by Christel Foncke
and the white shading


Artwork by Christel Foncke
On top I add an extra layer to brighten the white and darken the black


Artwork by Christel Foncke
The finished piece. To make the drawing more interesting, I added some white embellishment


If you want to see more of my Bold Black Beauties, you can check my instagram account. Enjoy and I hope you feel inspired .

Thank you Ina for featuring me on Pattern Collections. I have a lot of respect for the time and effort you and Nicole Dreyer put in the website and the Facebook group. It’s a great start for everybody who wants to begin tangling and a great resource for all who is tangling. I am very happy to be part of this community.

Happy tangling!

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