Exploring the mandala: “Organic” mandala painting

Mandalas represent wholeness, and can be seen as a model for the organizational structure of life itself; a cosmic diagram that reminds us of our relation to the infinite, the world that extends both beyond and within our bodies and minds. Describing both material and non-material realities, the mandala appears in all aspects of life: the celestial circles we call earth, sun, and moon, as well as conceptual circles of friends, family, and community.

This was my first exploration of the mandala.

Using Photoshop to create a template, I found imagery of organic plants (taken from the internet and from my own photographs) and rotated them around an 8-part circle to create an aesthetically pleasing composition. The imagery was structured as birth of the plant being in the center of the mandala, growth of the plant coming out from the center, and “enlightenment” being represented as the furthest point from the center (the ultimate result of organic farming).

After creating a template for my mandala, I printed out copies of the photographs and pasted them to a 36″X36″ canvas using acrylic gel. After all images had been pasted to the canvas, I painted over certain areas with oil paint. The overall process required a lot of planning and concentration. Although I enjoyed the process, I did not achieve the level of meditation I had originally anticipated.

Photoshop template
Starting to construct the mandala
House paint mixed with candle wax background
Pages of “Be Here Now” by Ram Dass as the border
Working on flat surface
Laying down cut-outs before switching to color prints
Painting over colored prints, starting from the center
Final mandala, 36″X36″

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