Wednesday, April 15, 2009
So you've tried making a mandala? Good for you! Advice on creating them? You bet.
First off, don't judge yourself on their quality, because making them isn't about art. If you end up with some cool art, that's merely a bonus. Creating them is an outlet... a meditation. Some people knit, hike, play music - all for the purpose of letting go. This is the same with the mandala process, and the cool thing about them is that you can reflect on them once completed- and sometimes, you might just notice meaningful things amidst all of those lines and doodles.
I always start at the center, (I consider it to be "me" in the center) and then I work outward in concentric circular patterns. It's helpful if you try (at least in the beginning) to go only in direction (clockwise or counter-clockwise) as it helps you to develop a rhythm to your pattern-making. It gets much easier once you develop a rhythm to your work.
Develop a small library of shapes and designs to use. Don't over think it. You can do it all with little circles, lines, X's, triangles, or try using letters from the alphabet - M's work well, or an "S" on it's side.
Remember that no line or mark you put on the page needs to be perfect. In fact, they shouldn't be perfect. Because if they are perfect, you are putting too much conscious effort into it. Again I stress, this isn't about creating art - it's a meditative process and you shouldn't overthink it. Do enough of them (I've probably done over 400 of them) and the various patterns and gestures start to come a little easier. Remember to be kind to yourself throughout the process - resist the urge to judge your creation. I give you full permission to make mistakes and crooked lines and so you should extend the same permission to yourself.
I recommend using some kind of tablet that allows you to easily spin it so you can continuously work in every direction. Select a writing implement that allows you to work effortlessly. If the pen/marker, etc. doesn't move smoothly on the paper in every direction, it may cause frustration and/or hand fatigue.
If like me, you end up sitting and concentrating on a piece for a long period of time, remember to consciously breathe, and stretch yourself out every once in a while. It's easy to get lost in one of these meditations and you don't want to stop and find yourself all cramped up.
But most of all - have fun & just let go!