Artist Interview with Heidi Kay CZT

Hi and welcome back to the Chrissie Murphy Designs blog. Today I’m sharing another Artist Interview. I’ve actually had this Artist Interview ready to go for a while, but I’ve been side tracked with some other things. Having said that, I think now is the perfect time to finally share the Interview, because the artist I’m interviewing is someone who’s making significant strides in the Zentangle world. It’s inspiring…. And who doesn’t need inspiration at the start of a new year! So friends, grab a cuppa and enjoy this Artist Interview with Heidi Kay CZT.

Artist Interview with Heidi Kay, CZT
Artist Interview with Heidi Kay, CZT

Welcome Heidi, tell me a bit about your background and how you got into Zentangle Art?

Ah.. “My Zentangle story!” And it is quite a story. Hang with me, here, its worth it.

My mother was an award-winning embroiderer and accomplished Master Quilter who specialized in complex geometric designs. My dad was very controlling and wouldn’t let her work outside the house. So she started a cottage business back in the 70’s teaching embroidery, needlework and painting. She yearned for women to find a passion of their own outside the traditional homemaker confines. When she died, I was cleaning out her art studio and found two Zentangle books that she had bought for inspiration. The books were loaded up with post-it note bookmarks. Unfortunately, chemo robbed her of her fine motor/quilting abilities before she could make use of the ideas she found.

She was always nagging me to find my own muse.   But as the mother of three, and a small business owner, I never had the time, or studio space express myself.

Zentangle by Heidi Kay, CZT
Zentangle by Heidi Kay, CZT

After she died, I brought the two books home where they sat idly while I caught my breath, exhausted from 18 months of caregiving and the settling of her estate.    I had no idea that those books were a powerful message, just waiting for me when I was ready to receive it.

One night, several months later, I cracked open “One Zentangle a Day,” by Beckah Krahula.   With no ink pens or tiles at my disposal, I did my first tangling on a piece of cut Xerox paper and all in pencil.   I was enthralled!   Two days later, a package arrived via Amazon containing tiles, a Micron 01, and a tortillion.  

I went to the Zentangle website to find a CZT in my area, but there did not appear to be one close by that offered classes. So next I went to Facebook where I reached out to Chris Titus of Square One Purely Zentangle, who recommended among others, Joanna Quincey, CZT. I took weekly lessons from Jo for about 6 months and immediately felt cared for and appreciated. I was completely hooked on the artform and the community of kind-hearted tanglers. The rest is history. I received my CZT certification in April of this year (CZT33), and started teaching right away.

Zentangle by Heidi Kay, CZT
Zentangle by Heidi Kay, CZT

I get chills thinking that if not for my mom’s passing, I never would have found Zentangle.  Now, not only have I found my muse, but I have picked up her mantle and am teaching and inspiring others to create.  She is with me every time I pick up a pen, or teach.

Where are you located and what sorts of things in your area inspire your work?

I’ve lived in Florida, for 26 years, but am originally from Boston.  I am inspired less by “what I see”, but more by “how I feel”   Being at the ocean, mountains, and any peaceful natural setting either alone or with my loved ones inspires me to tangle.   My idea of a perfect Saturday, is just sitting in a park, listening to birds singing or to trees rustling in the breeze, sitting beside my hubby tangling, while he reads a book.  

Zentangle by Heidi Kay, CZT
Zentangle by Heidi Kay, CZT

You have developed a unique style to your work, who or what would you say has been your greatest influence?

No doubt, it’s my mother’s intricate paper piece quilting and incredible use of bright, bold color.    

Order vs Chaos as an artist. Which area do you thrive in?

Hmm… I do love symmetry and geometry, so my quick answer would be Order.  But that said, you should see my desk!   Orderly, Not so much!!!    

Zentangle by Heidi Kay, CZT
Zentangle by Heidi Kay, CZT

Tell us about your most favourite Zentangle moment?

Ooh this is a tough one!  There have been so many.   My discovery of Zentangle, as I described earlier – is probably the most profound.  I still get chills when I tell the story.   Next would be the thrill I felt when I taught my very first (impromptu) lesson to my nieces and daughter this past Thanksgiving.   At that point I had absolutely NO interest in teaching Zentangle.   But after one look on their little faces when they finished their tiles, I got the teaching bug!   The thrill of Seminar and meeting Rick and Maria can’t be beat either.  Just wow!   And when I got to meet Jo in person when she traveled all the way from Wales to see a friend here in Florida and we got to hang out.. that was pretty great.    You did say only one right?  Haha.  

Zentangle by Heidi Kay, CZT
Zentangle by Heidi Kay, CZT

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received as a Zentangle artist?

There are two:  The first is TRUST THE PROCESS!  I heard it first from my mentor, Jo and who taught me that this was an integral part of the Zentangle ethos.   I say it to myself at least once a week to this day.  That lesson never fails to deliver!

The second piece of advice, is another I learned from Jo within days (hours?) of our first acquaintance.   When I was new and got all worked up about the art and whether it was any good or not or if anyone would like it,  Jo would stare me in the eye (over Facebook video) and ask me “WHY do you Tangle?”  The answer is and always has been.  “I tangle for ME.”    That people like my work is a flattering byproduct –  But the only thing that really matters is not even whether *I* even like it.. but rather, whether I enjoyed the doing, and found joy in the process.   Focus on the process – not on the outcome. Powerful stuff – that I now teach to my own students, and remind myself of regularly.

Zentangle by Heidi Kay, CZT
Zentangle by Heidi Kay, CZT

What’s your Favourite tool when it comes to zentangling?

Lately I am pretty obsessed with my Ecoline Watercolor Brush Pens which allow me to lay down gobs of gorgeous, bold color as tile prep, that I might have a complete and traditional Zentangle session once I pick up the pen.  

Otherwise, nothing beats a traditional 3.5 inch Zentangle White Fabriano Tile.  I am smitten with the feel of a brand new Micron 01 on that paper.

What can we look forward to from you in the future?

I give online group lessons (via Zoom) in my color techniques. I am finding a niche for myself in the area of how to incorporate bold color without losing “the Zen in Zentangle”. Rick and Maria designed the artform in black and white to minimize the choices,that can interfere with your Zen while maximize the “elegance of limits.” However, I think that a nearly true Zentangle experience can be had together with color if you take care and make the application of color a “supplementary experience” before or entirely after the Zen, rather than interspersed between shorter Zentangle moments.

Zentangle by Heidi Kay, CZT
Zentangle by Heidi Kay, CZT

I plan to explore – and teach – additional techniques that can keep the eight steps of the Zentangle Method as “intact” as possible.   It is my opinion, that if you are changing pens and pencils all the time throughout a sitting, the zen disappears from the process.    I love painting with a large palette as much as anybody, but if we are really looking to do Zentangle, as Rick and Maria designed it, we need to remind ourselves of the “reason for the season,” as it were, and keep our heads down and present in the moment with the pen or graphite on the tile with minimal interruption.

And lastly, tell us where we can find you…

You can find me on FB at HK Tangler CZT, and my personal page HERE

Instagram:  @hk_tangler33

Mosaic:  @HKTanglerCZT33

My email address is

So that’s a wrap on my Artist Interview with Heidi Kay CZT

I love Heidi’s story because it’s one that reminds me it’s never too late. It’s so easy to get caught up in thinking that tells us we’re past it, we should have started it years ago or we’re too old for it. But Heidi’s story is a great example of discovering something new later in life and thriving in it.

There’s a verse in Ecclesiastes that says;

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1 NLT

I’m such a believer in this verse – about there being appointed times and seasons for all things. We can think we’re past it, too old for something, not good enough or ready, but maybe it’s just that our appointed time hasn’t yet come.

Zentangle by Heidi Kay, CZT
Zentangle by Heidi Kay, CZT

What season are you in?

Look at where Heidi is now. She’s thriving in the Zentangle world. This is her season for it! Friends I’m so encouraged by her story. I’m encouraged that there’s a time for each activity we hope for. And for many of us, that time may be for a season. I know I’m in a season of reflection and journalling, creating and listening. This is the time that’s been appointed for me for these activities.

What season are you in? If you think about it, you will find you’re in a particular season, and a time has been appointed for a particular activity. It may not be the activity you want to be in right now, but the learnings and the growth of now, are something that’s vital to helping you be you.

If you think about it, you will find you’re in a particular season, and a time has been appointed for a particular activity. It may not be the activity you want to be in right now, but the learnings and the growth of now, are… Click To Tweet

Heidi’s story reminds us it’s never too late. I’m grateful for this Artist Interview with Heidi Kay CZT because it reminds me that new seasons come, and when they do, we can thrive in them.

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Until next time, listen to your heart and sharpen your coloured pencils. A masterpiece awaits!

Bless you my friend

Chrissie xx

2 thoughts on “Artist Interview with Heidi Kay CZT

  1. Such beautiful work! I have never heard of this before! I have seen the coloring books with images like these, but had no idea it was a specific discipline!

    Your reminder that whatever season we are in is where we need to thrive. . thank you! I am grateful that my season for my business is a growing season, struggling a bit with being really close to releasing my oldest child to college in May… But thrive we will anyway, and thankful I will be!

    1. Chrissie Murphy Designs January 11, 2020 — 7:55 am

      Thanks Janice, I think gratitude is important for any season we’re in or face. I’m hearing so much gratitude underlying your thoughts, hopes and desires for the seasons coming. I believe a grateful heart is what enables us to move. Scripture says we can move (enter his courts) with thanksgiving in our hearts, aka gratitude. In hearing an overflow of gratitude in your comment, I know you will move (enter and get through) and thrive in this next season. Bless you my friend. I’m praying for you now xx

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