Unwinding the Mind

A Chennai-based Zentangle teacher uses the art form as a possible therapy to spread happiness and inculcate confidence

Published: 17th February 2018 10:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 17th February 2018 04:52 PM   |  A+A-

Sunish P Surendran/Sandhya Manne

The qualities that make Sandhya Manne stand out in the crowd have elevated her to her present state of exuberation. It’s been eight years that the Chennai-based certified Zentangle—a regimented technique of doodling that often leads to meditation—teacher has been using the art form as a possible therapy wherein the idea is used to spread happiness and inculcate confidence among the students/participants.

On February 10 and 11, Sandhya held two workshops with guest artists teaching Gond art and African art.
Looking back, Sandhya had routinely completed her BCom and pursued a professional career in human resource, like many others, in 2004. But, that was not all she wanted to do. She says, “I always had an interest in arts—drawing and painting. Though I didn’t get a chance to learn professionally, I taught myself over the years.” That’s until her daughter, now 11, was born. “The passion to do something for myself, to satisfy the soul, came after my first child, my daughter, was born,” says the 37-year-old. That probably gave her the push she needed to take up painting seriously. 

Soon, however, she found herself relocated to a foreign land—the US— with her husband and daughter, for a few crucial years. The accessibility of support and resources enabled her to learn the arts seriously. Sandhya got in touch with teachers and joined workshops, such as the palette knife painting with Leslie Saeta and another on oil painting by Karin Jurick, and worked hard. “It was then I realised the importance of time in our lives. My younger child was born in the US, and my husband and I had to work in tandem to ensure that we both get to do what we wanted to,” she says, adding that she would adjust her workshop timings to ensure that her husband would be free to look after the children. 

She came to know about Zentangle, a systematic method of doodling, shaped by US citizens Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts. Later, they named it ‘Zentangling’, patented the technique, and taught it to thousands of students across the globe, who sought not only creative freedom but also tranquility and spiritual awakening. And Sandhya was one of their students. After returning to India in 2013, Sandhya became a Certified Zentangle Teacher—very few in India. She teaches this popular art and technique one-to-one in her studio as well as online. “This technique of creative mindfulness had been the key in finding balance between my passion and responsibilities,” says Sandhya, whose oil work was exhibited this year during ‘Prahaas’ at the Cholamandala Artist’s Village in Chennai and at the Finext National Exhibition of ‘Mini-Artwork-2017’ at Canary’s Art Gallery in Indore. “Zentangling is calming and inspiring. In this, you can’t use an eraser. You draw a line and you have to keep on building on that line. It’s like our life, like our karma. You can’t undo that line.”

Her work is proudly connoisseured in private collections across the globe. “There’s so much more I would like to do, but with the finite time at hand, I try to remain focused on my calendar and routine—like a small oil work is to be completed every Tuesday, which I can post on the blog next day. The planned classes also help me remain accountable to my goals,” says Sandhya, who has also collaborated with a graphic designer with her art finding place on books, journals, and coasters. The venture is called Striped Mango. 

Sandhya conducts one Zentangle workshop for beginners and another for advanced students every month and similar for drawing and painting students. “I wake up at 4.30 every morning, and start my day with yoga, to be able to stay ahead of the game,” she says.Nobody said chasing dreams was easy. It requires a fair share of grabbing the bulls by their horns. In April, she will invite artists from Coimbatore and Bengaluru to conduct workshops and zentangle will be an important part of that.


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