Monday, November 28, 2011


Since I started reading Tammy's blog, Daisy Yellow, at the beginning of this year, one of the things I have most enjoyed have been her mandala drawings.  I didn't really know anything about mandalas, and I certainly had no idea how to draw one, but I liked looking at the different designs she created.

Back in August, I started to do a little "research", and checked out a couple of books from the library about mandalas. 
Some of my mandala note-taking
One of the things that made the biggest impression on me is how mandalas are found everywhere in the natural world.  Crystals, atoms, hurricanes, the solar system, sound waves, hair shafts, a fetus in the womb, the rings of Saturn, snowflakes, tornadoes, snails, shells, sunflowers, roses, daisies, an octopus, the iris of an eye, pincones, an apple slice, starfish, spiderwebs, the cycle of the seasons, animal migrations....all are mandalas!

Bailey Cunningham explained in Mandala:  Journey to the Center, that "the circle becomes a container to hold your most cherished ideas and emotions.  You organize your thoughts around a central point that represents a particular theme or concept, and express ideas and meanings by choosing symbols and colors that reflect your intent."
It sounded SO meaningful and interesting, yet I still had no idea how to get started.  I even took notes on all the different radiations and their meanings:  3 radiations suggesting wholeness, 4 suggesting stability and order, 7 suggesting divinity, etc.  I understood that to create a mandala was to create intricate designs along multiple radiations.  I just wasn't sure how to do that!

Just two weeks ago, I came across Rainy's website, Honey & Ollie, and I noticed she had a mandala tutorial in the left margin of her page.  She describes a mandala as "a meditation that you build up in layers.  Work from the inside to the outside."  Simply put a dot, spiral, flower, circle, etc. at the center, and then build up your design around it.  She provided a link to a web site with basic henna motifs, and suddenly it all kind of clicked in place for me. 
After some more note-taking, I tackled my first mandala.
Keep in mind that these are not patterns of my own making.  Some are copied as-is from the sites I was looking at, and for the others, I put together the patterns I found there. 
As I started to draw the mandalas, I was reminded very much of the Zentangles I have been enjoying all year.  They look so complex and difficult when looked at as a whole, but when you just make one mark at a time, and let the patterns build up over the page, it's a simple but focused process.
I am not a "mindless doodler"...I wish I were!  For me to make these designs and patterns, I really have to focus and concentrate.  Drawing both Zentangles and mandalas is a soothing, restful pasttime for me.  It has also been an exercise in giving up perfection, which is a valuable exercise for me to undertake.  I know that some folks working on mandalas get out the rulers and compasses, and I even bought some of these tools when I first intended to create some mandalas.  But at this point, I have put that approach to the side in favor of freehand drawing that brings me greater satisfaction.  How fun to have such imperfect lines and spacing, and yet enjoy the results so much! 
Finding Warren's web site, The Doodle Daily, has opened up another whole set of mandala symbols to incorporate into my designs.  I don't think I have anything symbolic going on in my drawings so far.  Right now, I still feel like I'm getting used to the process, and exploring design and pattern options.  I do lots and lots of thinking while I'm drawing, though, so it wouldn't surprise me at all if my work gets more personally symbolic when the designs and patterns come to me naturally, rather than from me looking on the computer for ideas to copy or incorporate.
This mandala is a copy of one of Warren's designs.
Drawing these mandalas was the perfect art experience to bring along with me when I traveled to Atlanta for Thanksgiving this past weekend.  All I needed was a little notebook of drawing paper (which I bound for myself with my Cinch machine) and a black PITT artist pen.  I took along some colored Sharpies, too.  Nothing bulky, nothing messy, and I had a great "arty" outlet to enjoy while I was away from home!

Have your read about mandalas, or created them yourself?  I have MUCH to learn, so please share your knowledge and resources with me in your comments.


donna!ee said...

amazing mandalas indeed! thank you much for sharing... :)

Doodle Daily said...

Thanks for the mention of my blog on your site. it's always fun to fine other like minded Mandala artists. So glad you enjoy my daily dose of doodles. Do check out the contributions others have made to my "World Doodle Challenge" (there is a link on my blog)

Once again thanks for your kind words.

The Doodle Daily

laurie said...

i have always enjoyed looking at mandalas but have never drawn one. thanks for all the interesting info and links. yours look great and i can see how satisfying they must be to complete.

VivJM said...

Oh, I love your mandalas. I have also admired Tammy's mandalas on Daisy Yellow, and now I have a whole load more sites to check out lol! It's the idea of a kind of meditation thru drawing I like. Definitely something to add to my 2012 to learn list. Thanks for yet more inspiration!

iHanna said...

Love this post and all your research. Thanks for sharing! A great place for inspiration is pinterest:

I haven't made many mandalas but lots of zentangles in the round... But here is a post with some more links that you might not have read:

Take care!

Andria said...

Thanks, Donnalee!

Warren, thanks for stopping by. I will definitely check out your World Doodle Challenge. I am a Doodler-Wannabe!

Laurie, I hope you will give mandala-drawing a try, and share your results on your blog!

Tammy, it's good to hear that a person can have a good relationship with their mandala-drawing without worrying a whole lot about the underlying symbolism. I think I just want to draw them!

Thanks, Viv...I look forward to seeing what you do in 2012!

I never thought of looking on Pinterest, Hannah; very cool idea! Thanks for the link to your blog post about your mandala; it is very different and beautiful. I would be interested to learn more about the process of making that type of mandala.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful story of growth and progression! Great drawing exercise, too. Thanks for being brave and showing us the process!

Rainy said...

How much do I love this post? Your mandalas are fantastic and thank you for your very sweet words about my little tutorial!

Carin Winkelman said...

I love looking at this research process of yours. It reminds me so much of how I am with zentangles right now. I'm just putting stuff together by bits and pieces I see in books. I steal ideas and patterns and isn't that just the only way to learn these things? Thanks for sharing your learning curve!

Crafty Moira said...

Beautiful! I'm feeling inspired to draw a mandala right now... :)

Linda Jordan said...

Those are really gorgeous! I have not done those before, but I might need to try them in my art journal, that would be really fun!!


Andria said...

Thanks, Quinn. I DO like it as a drawing exercise, though I suspect that I use it as a way to procrastinate from realistic drawing, which I would really LIKE to be able to do, but as yet, cannot!

Thanks for stopping by, Rainy! Your tutorial really did make all the difference for me.

Thanks, Caatje! It's definitely how I learn!

Thanks, Moira! Go for it!

Thanks, Linda. Definitely give it a try!

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