This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was to incorporate a mandala or something similar. I am no good at mandalas. I have tried them a few times but I just don’t have the patience or precision required. I like to draw things that are wonky, asymmetrical, that involve dribble and spatter. That’s my kind of thing. The mathematical precision and repetition of mandala are just not me. My workaround, therefore, was to think of something I could use that would create a repeated pattern for me. My eyes landed on my small alphabet stamps and I had my flash of inspiration. Stamping letters in concentric rings should have been simple enough but even that “cheat” defeated me because I did not line up the stamps with enough accuracy to create sharp rings.
I was going to keep the page black and white and let it sit like that for a while. I worried that it was a bit too boring, however, so I spritzed the page with yellow spray ink and spattered on some orange and red watercolour. It turns out that I much prefer the monochrome version.
My art time has been limited recently between it being too cold in the house to hold a pencil or paint brush and kids getting sick one after the other. I admit, therefore, that, when I saw that last week’s Life Book lesson was on the subject of manadalas, I almost decided to skip it entirely. Mandalas are just not “me”. Just as I am not zen enough to translate my doodles into zentangles, nor am I precise or measured enough to produce mandalas. I actually much prefer asymmetry, wonkiness and imprecision in my art. I am also a little queasy about the cultural appropriation inherent in producing something related to a style so rooted in a particular culture and one to which I do not remotely belong. However, you know all too well that I am a control freak and anal retentive. It was making me feel a little twitchy to not attempt a lesson. After all, the entire point of me participating in Life Book is that it forces me to leave my comfort zone and try new things and – in doing so – learn what things work for me and perhaps assimilate them into my regular practice and find out what things don’t work for me and henceforth avoid them like the plague. Finally, after a week of bone-numbing cold and having kids home sick – one after the other, of course – I really needed to decompress with a good chunk of art time.
The lesson was taken by Faith Evans-Sills and involved collage and layering and, obviously, adding a mandala as a focal point. As you can see, there is no accurate measuring, no mathematical precision in my mandala but it is as good as I can get. I used colours I associate with Spring because man oh man do I need Spring to arrive.