I've been making mandalas in one way or another for a long time. For the last couple of years, it's been when the mood strikes, and most often with paint, pen or pastels as part of my creative journaling - like the one above. It is one of the many ways my creative practice becomes a contemplative one, and a place of rest and healing.
There was a time before that, though, when making mandalas in a completely different way helped me through some overwhelming years - a time when it felt to me that life had steered me totally away from being an artist. I spent a lot of time those days exploring trails and gardens with my camera. I was a nurse by night, and a ravenous seeker of nature's healing beauty by day. My Canon was always with me, and I would come home with hundreds of photographs to sort through.
I wanted to do something with the images, but I've never been much of a scrapper - and this was long before I started blogging. I would print out my photos and cut them up to play with them on the page a bit... until I found myself piecing together mandala-like objects from the photos, and I began thinking about kaleidoscopes. But, I'll be honest, I didn't have a lot of spare energy back then to 'complete' most creative ideas, and it still felt like too much to be so tedious with my hands and time (think: new marriage and state + highly stressful, time-consuming, new job + lots of confusion and not enough sleep).
At the time, there were some tutorials about piecing together images in photoshop for mandalas - but even that felt like too much screen time. With a little searching and creative curiosity, though, I stumbled upon an unlikely source of quick mandala magic, and for the next couple of years, I continued to ease my stifled creative energy through almost instantaneous mandalas, created from my beloved nature-walk photographs, like these ones:
I created lots of these in those days, with very little effort. Everytime I clicked a button, a new mandala was revealed from my photograph like pure eye candy.
How did I do it?
A software program for quilters. It was intended to be used for pattern-making - and it just happened to create mandalas in excellent resolution - even though it wasn't intended for photographic use at all. I even used the software without ever learning how to control the outcome - every click brought about a completely unplanned kaleidoscope of nature (the above images were created from magnolia seed pods, a wildflower garden, and the most gorgeous mossy tree).
There are so many ways to create mandalas - paint, pen, collaging, digitally, with sticks, twigs or sand, whatever you can imagine - but for me, what draws me back to the practice again and again is the sense of calm possibility that can happen in a circle, be it perfectly round or honestly imperfect. All it takes is a little repetition and the willingness to step outside the ordinary challenges of life and into the simply-simmering magic of intuition and surprise.
A big thank you to Andrea Schroeder for hosting this beautiful round-up of mandala-makers...
The Magic of Mandalas Blog Hop is a radically inspiring sharing circle, with artists from around the globe sharing the stories behind their process of creating mandalas. Our mission: To inspire you to see new possibilities for your own creative practice.