Handdrawn mandala GL

Completely hand drawn mandala

On my list of projects has been a note to make a book about creating mandalas. The idea arrived during the craft fair season last November, and just hasn’t let go. This week, after running out of excuses, I finally sat down and started to think about ways of creating mandalas. To get the ideas moving I started simply, just drawing a circle, then expanding on it row by row. Inevitably a mandala like the one to the left will never be very symmetrical, but it was fun to create!

Mandala worked in sections

My next step was to begin with a circle. I eyeballed the quarters and then halved them to create eight sections. I decided to fill in the empty sections freehand, but with a geometric curve at the edge and straight lines forming the other two edges, found myself making 1/2″ points along the lines to keep the patterns straight. I also found it a tad boring to create a complete section, then duplicate it, although it seemed like a good idea at the time! The mandala on the right shows where my interest petered out.

Clearly I hadn’t found a good way of creating an accurate mandala. I looked around and saw several techniques that channeled geometry classes. For these mandalas you take a pair of compasses and draw an initial circle, say with the compasses opened 3″. You then shorten the opening by 1/2″ per circle, keeping the point in the same central spot as you draw each slightly smaller  circle, gradually creating a series of 5-6 concentric circles. I used the compasses at the original 3″ size and marked around the outer edge to create 6 equally spaced marks. I then marked the central point between two of these points, and from there used the compass to create a further 6 points, making 12 points around the edge of the largest circle. From here I either used or ignored the intervening circles and created a pattern from the center out – which is clearly my preferred way of creating mandalas. Here is the result:

First 12 pointed mandala

Mandala with compass-created curves to form central area

Along the way I started to keep notes of the shapes and forms I was using to fill in the spaces. I would like to expand my repertoire, but soon realized they had to be forms I could reliably repeat many times to keep the finished mandala as symmetrical as possible.

It was certainly therapeutic to sit and draw, and not rely on the computer to create shapes. It was also oddly comforting to get my compasses and protractor out again! As I am not a colorer with crayons – for the most part – so opted not to color my mandalas by hand. I did scan them however, and immediately started to color one digitally, as you can see at the top of the page.

I’m glad I kept the idea of discovering ways to create mandalas on my ‘to do’ list. It was much more interesting to do than I had imagined, and really very therapeutic to think of a pattern and then repeat it all around the center. Now I’m thinking that this might make an interesting Relax and Create class. Watch this space!

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