Category Archives: The Art of the Mandala
I experimented with a simple mandala on black multi-media artboard just to see what it would look like. I used my metallic Prismacolor pencils that I had never before found a use for! My pattern was made with a small plate, an old CD, and a roll of tape. The black artboard makes it really seem to pop, but brighter pencils would have worked better. I had to layer the pencils several times to cover up the black. Try it for fun, if you wish, and let me know what you think!
HERE ARE SOME OTHER EXAMPLES I’VE DONE FROM TIME TO TIME. I READ THAT CARL JUNG DID A MANDALA A DAY. NOT A BAD IDEA, BECAUSE THEY ARE CREATIVE, SYMBOLIC, MEDITATIVE, AND FUN! MANDALAS DO NOT HAVE TO BE STRUCTURAL, GEOMETRIC, OR EVEN IN A CIRCLE. YOU CAN ALSO TRY DOING ONE IN A SQUARE. YOU DON’T HAVE TO START IN THE MIDDLE, EITHER!
THE FIRST MANDALA I CREATED USING THE 1/4 TEMPLATES (SEE PREVIOUS POST) AND MY INITIALS. CAN YOU FIND THE INTIALS M, A, S?
THE SECOND ONE I DID USING THE NUMERALS 0 – 9. I DID PRETTY MUCH START IN THE MIDDLE. CAN YOU FIND ALL THE NUMERALS?
THE THIRD ONE I DID AFTER A TRIP TO SPAIN AND MOROCCO. IT’S SYMBOLIC OF THE MOORISH INFLUENCE IN THAT AREA. I CAN’T EVEN REMEMBER THE SYMBOLISM I USED EXCEPT FOR THE BUILDING IMAGE. IF YOU NOTICE, I DID NOT START IN THE MIDDLE, AND IT IS NOT GEOMETRIC AT ALL. TRY THIS SOMETIME.
THESE TAKE A LITTLE TIME, BUT ARE MUCH FUN TO DO! MAKE A 9″ CIRCLE ON POSTER BOARD. DIVIDE THE CIRCLE INTO 4 PARTS AND CUT OUT ONE OF THE PARTS TO USE AS YOUR TEMPLATE. (YOU CAN DIVIDE THE CIRCLE INTO 6TH SEGMENTS IF YOU’RE REALLY AMBITIOUS). DRAW AN ABSTRACT DESIGN (DON’T DRAW A SYMBOL OR ANYTHING YOU CAN RECOGNIZE) ON THE TEMPLATE – ONE THAT CAN BE CARRIED OVER INTO OTHER SEGMENTS.
DRAW ANOTHER 9″ CIRCLE ON POSTERBOARD OR OTHER BOARD, AND DIVIDE INTO EQUAL 4ths (OR 6ths). NOW TRACE THE TEMPLATE DESIGN ON ONE OF THE SECTIONS USING GRAPHITE PAPER. THEN REPEAT TRACING THE DESIGN ONTO THE REST OF THE SEGMENTS. WHEN YOU ARE PLEASED WITH YOUR DESIGN, USE MARKERS, COLORED PENCILS, OR CRAYONS TO COLOR THE DESIGN AS YOU WISH.
“REAL ART IS MADE FROM THE INSIDE OUT, NOT THE OUTSIDE IN.”
One of the most meditative and creative ways to draw and paint is to use the mandala form of art. The making of mandalas has been around for a long time – even cavemen drawings depicted spiral forms. Mandalas are usually designed within a circle as a symbol for wholeness, or the circle of life. The word itself is Sanskrit for “healing circle.” Mandalas have been used mainly in Tibetan Buddhism, but also within Native American traditions. Modern Jungian psychology also used the mandala as a way of exploring the hidden recesses of self. Carl Jung said, “The mandala is the Self, the wholeness of the personality which if all goes well, is harmonious.” He believed that all parts of a person: body, mind, and soul must be brought together for healing.
The mandala has been used in Christian symbolism as well. Do you remember Jesus’ answer to the question, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” His reply was: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.” If you think about it, circles are all around us in life. We are created from an egg and nestled in a circular place, the womb. A bird’s nest is a mandala — a cell is a mandala — the sun– the moon– even the world is in the mandala shape. Can you think of any other circular shapes in nature?
Begin by finding a quiet, comfortable place to draw. Relax and breathe deeply for a few minutes. For this first project, draw a large shape, whether circular, square, or oblong on your paper – whatever feels right for you. Most mandalas are built on a pattern that expands in all directions from the center with no clear top and bottom. Whatever you choose to put within this framework might represent various aspects of your life: past, present and future. It can be as complex or as simple as you like. Use crayons, markers, pastels, or colored pencils to fill in the shape from the center outward using only abstract forms. Be sure not to draw any recognizable forms. Keep working from your subconscious until you feel that the composition is complete.
Now, look at your composition. Is there a focus (center of interest)? What colors did you use? Is there a story here to be told? How do the shapes fit together? Can you analyze your own design? What colors did you use? Send me your attempts and any comments, please. My attempt at a purely abstract mandala can be seen below. That looks like crossed eyes in the middle doesn’t it! I used colored pencils and just let it happen. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to do this!
In future posts, I will explore other ways to design a mandala. There are myriads of resources out there — a lot of mandalas that can just be colored in from Dover Publications for one. I’ll give you some suggestions later on.