You have probably already heard of mandalas and you may have already drawn one or two but do you know about them outside of their obvious beautiful aesthetic?
For years Mandalas have been associated with spirituality, aiding in meditation. They have become incredibly popular over the last few years and there are even apps to help you create your own. There's an app for everything, right? But there is something extra special about creating a mandala from scratch, with pencil to paper.
Carol Michalice, of the students featured in our Wanderlust community has been drawing and painting mandalas for years and I asked her a little bit about why she loves them so much. Turns out it all started when Carol felt stuck for inspiration of how to represent her spirituality through art and had been at a an exhibition with her friend. Carol says...
“We saw an exhibition where an artist used … 6 x 6” tiles. [...] And then one night I had a dream, which informed me to use a mandala form.”
This super cool revelation kick-started Carol’s journey into exploring mandalas. She’s experienced an almost meditative state whilst creating her beautiful mandalas which in today’s ever increasingly busy and hectic world can only be a wonderful thing to explore!
So from this I have looked at mandalas a little further, why they have a soothing effect on people and how we can create our own little arty zen zones to chill out, calm the inner voices and create something beautiful in the process!
What you will need to make your own:
Compass (the geometry type one not the ‘where is north’ type one!) You don’t strictly need this but it will make your life easier!
If you want to decorate your mandala grab your colour pencils, paints, crayons, pastels, what ever you like!
Find a chill and happy place so you can get lost in the moment of making your mandala. Do what you need to do to set the scene. You could light a candle, set your intentions as you relax. You could take a few moments to sit with your eyes closed and take in deep breaths, listening to the sound of your breathing. Or you could put on whale sounds. Or Enya. Whatever you like to do to relax and sink into a moment.
1. Grab your paper and find the centre roughly, make a mark with your pencil so you can find it again if needed and put the pin from your compass onto it.
From the centre make a series of circles with your compass so it looks like a bullseye.
2. Now grab your ruler and mark a little dash evenly apart around the circle, so it looks a little like a clock.
3. Now if you look at Carol’s picture above, you will see she only has 6 ‘arms’ to her mandala. You can have as many or as little as you like, but symmetry is the key! Each ‘arm’ of your mandala will have a dash at this point.
4. From these dashes, make a line with your ruler so it looks like a star. This is now your basic outline for a mandala!
“I have always enjoyed a blank page and compass and ruler and starting to sketch and draw designs with no preconceived ideas, until it begins to show some form. Sometimes when I am feeling a strong emotion, there is something so powerful about giving expression to this within the shape of a circle. Somehow it gives expression and keeps the feeling moving and then releases it. I have heard that Carl Jung drew a mandala each day and often had his patients draw a mandala”
NOW IS WHERE THE RELAXING FUN BEGINS!
Start from the centre, where you drew that first dot. Grab your pencil or pen and start drawing patterns in your mandala. You will want to use a repetitive pattern or shape.
Good shapes to use to get your creative juices flowing are:
Simple leaf shapes
Use the same shape or pattern repeated throughout a single circle layer that you drew with your compass.
Once that layer is complete, move on to the next layer and so on. On each line that you have drawn (the ‘arms’) you can make a focal point like a taller circle, an extra swirl or loop. The limits are almost endless!
Once you get started you will start to get the hang of it and this is where the zen zone starts. You stop thinking about it overly much, and get lost in the process.
And I can confirm!
When creating this little tutorial for you I carried on with my own mandala, I suddenly looked around me, realised the night had crept in, I didn't know what time it was or where the last few hours had gone but I knew that my mind was calmer, I felt relaxed and I couldn't remember what my last thought was!
For someone who overthinks most things, this quietness was a sweet relief that I wasn't expecting. I guess you could say this was my own eureka moment!
"I have always enjoyed a blank page and compass and ruler and starting to sketch and draw designs with no preconceived ideas, until it begins to show some form. Sometimes when I am feeling a strong emotion, there is something so powerful about giving expression to this within the shape of a circle. Somehow it gives expression and keeps the feeling moving and then releases it. I have heard that Carl Jung drew a mandala each day and often had his patients draw a mandala.
I have never been drawn to creating mandalas with technical Apps, even those which are quite lovely, I enjoy the sketching and handwork involved, as it is the meditational elements which work for me, and time taken to bring one to life"
- -Carol Michalicek
I urge you to try drawing a mandala at least once! The peace it gave me was unexpected and I enjoyed the methodical repetition without having to think about an end design or outcome - it was a very organic process and one which I will use again for sure!
Thank you so much, Carol Michalicek for you valuable contributions and inspiration.
ps. And here's some music perfect for creating your calm mandalas.
Have a great day!