Monday, August 13, 2012

Bonus Lesson #33: "Mandala Madness"

Welcome everyone. For those of you who have been following, you know I have been participating in some wonderful online classes by Joanne Sharpe. To keep the "mojo" going, students  have signed up to be "guest teachers" in hopes of sharing more wonderful Art with each other. Today's post is my turn with "Mandala Madness".

Needed materials:
*Square paper
(type and size determined by which materials you want to use to add color)
My sample was done on 12x12 cardstock because it was already cut, but did not hold up that great when using watercolors...but did just fine for the black and white pieces I did....Bristol worked well when doing my "zendala"...and was only you decide. If doing Lettering in yours, you may want to go with 12x12 , or 9x9 (90-140lb watercolor paper) if using water for any materials.
*3-4 different sized circle templates cut from thicker paper like cardstock or oaktag
(or just use different size plates and bowls like I did to make the the templates in the first place)
*Black waterproof pen like .05 Micron
*Varied materials to add color: ( I used):
         koi watercolors (24) travel set- could substitute with Tombow markers
         paper towels
         Prismacolor colored pencils
         Gel pens
         Copic markers
        Tombow markers
        white signo Uniball pen
(works equally as well with black sharpies and crayola markers as I have done this lesson (on a more simple scale with 6th grade students).

1. Trace variety of circle templates (or plates and bowls) to create a bulls eye target (3-4 rings).
2. Eye up where you think the CENTER of the smallest circle is...and place a dot.
ALL lines that we draw from this point will need to always intersect this center point.
3. Use a Ruler to draw a vertical line that goes from 12 o'clock...thru the center dot...and onto 6 o'clock like you see above.
4. Next, eye up where you think the 3 and 9 o'clock would be....and now draw a horizontal line thru the center.
5. Place a dot where you think the 1 and 2 o'clock will well as the 10 and 11 o'clock. You do NOT need to place dots below the horizontal line. Match up your ruler with each of these marks, one at a time, being sure to intersect the center dot. This will give you an 8 section layout when you are done.
Do NOT trace over these guide lines with black marker.....for you may want to erase some of them like I did. Do EVERYTHING in pencil first. These lines are just guides that will help to provide you will "Balance"- they basis of all mandalas.
The key is to start at the center and work your way outward in a radiating manner. So if incorporating any words or will read from the center out.
What and how to start may be the most daunting....but I approached my sample above like this:
I knew I wanted a sun in the small center circle, so I erased the guide lines within the smallest circle and used this area for my sun. I started with 3 smaller circles and added different patterns within each. Making the "rays",  I tried eye-ing up where the guide lines were and tried pointing them in that direction. You could just as easily make a flower or some other design. Notice there are 8 "rays".
Since this art work was done during the time I took "Artful Alphabets", I wanted to incorporate some of those techniques. So, as Joanne had instructed, when lettering in the round, your letters should touch the top and bottom guidelines. But next, I wanted to incorporate "Waves". Being this went AROUND the circle instead of outward, I had to go from one guideline to the next while turning my paper to keep balance. The waves would now act as the top and bottom baseline for the word "Art" to follow and had to be drawn BEFORE the word ART. The word "ART" fit in between each of the original guidelines so the spacing would be balanced...notice 8 "Arts" appear around the circle...also notice the "T" was one of the original guidelines. Also notice the tops of the letters take on the wave shape as the T connects to the A. The space above the wave was filled with repeating lines....also being sure I had the same number of lines from one guideline to the next....always keep in mind BALANCE.  *Please note: I did not have a picture of this without added color, but I did the entire piece in pencil, then outlined in black, erased all pencil lines  BEFORE adding any color.*

Next, I wanted to be sure to start growing Outward since the previous sections were working AROUND the circle. You need to try to incorporate both to create more of a balanced design. This time, I used the "space in between " the original guidelines as the points of my triangles (so lets say between the 12 and 1 o'clock....I put a dot and those dots were the tips of the triangle) .....I thought this would help to reinforce the radiating effect of the sun's rays.
Again, notice there are 8 triangular shapes to keep the balance. Whatever details you add to must repeat in all others. Turn your paper as you do makes it easier. I tried to repeat some of the existing designs from the center sun design such as the circles inside circles.
Once I had completed the word ART...and had my triangles made, I realized I wanted to create a short verse or saying...and with only 2 available rings had to be short and I came up with the saying: "Art sets me Free". So using the triangles as a base line, I wrote in cursive "sets me" around each of the 8 triangles. Turn you paper as you go to keep balance.

I still had too much empty space after "sets me" was written, so I used the empty space between the words to add inverted triangles and again, used the circles inside circles from the previous designs. Incorporating a repeating design element like this helps to draw the eye throughout the piece. Your brain automatically looks for things that are similar to help decode.

As you can now see, in the outside ring I used the word "FREE" along with more of the circle inside circle and turned that into the center of the sun in between each "free". If you notice the tips of the inverted triangles (above "sets me"), they are from the original guidelines...and going straight up into the outer most ring where the word "free" is found, you can also notice that the top and bottom rays of the sun are also along the original guidelines as well.  These serve as space dividers so I know how long to make the word "FREE". Again, even though I used both upper and lower case letters, they all stopped at the top and bottom baselines. Again, there are 8 of them.

Once satisfied with my overall design, I outlined all circles, letters and designs, but DID NOT outline the original guidelines. Depending on YOUR design, they may be part of your overall design and should outline them....but my particular design did not. Below are some other designs I have done and some that my 6th grade students have done.

Below are some student pieces in various stages of completion. I'm posting them so you can see the use of the guidelines and spaces in between a little better since they have not erased yet.
OMG...I'm sorry this it like the longest post in the history of man! Feel free to take a nap or read "War and Peace" and get back to me
Ok, now for the color part: Back to my original:
Center circles of sun was done with markers and gel pens to add details over top. The rays and blue background around the sun were done with watercolors from koi's travel box....though if I had known about the amazing blending effect water has with the tombows, I would have probably used that. (FYI: this was done on cardstock and the watercolor effect was a big disappointment....If planning on doing anything with water, I would recommend watercolor paper. I found the sane disappointment on mixed media paper too.) After things were painted and dried, I used gel pens to add details and to color in the small circles within circles between the rays of sunshine.

Next: "ART" was done using the "color out" technique showed to us in "Artful Alphas"....above is my alpha sample with this technique. Using colored pencils, find the closed up areas of your letters and in between them. Select at least two colors of the same color family (light and dark blue, light and dark green, yellow and yellow and purple)....color the entire space with lightest color first, but do not press too hard at first....just put some color down...then around the edges, apply the darker color...pressing harder at first, then lightening the pressure toward the center.....then blend with the lighter color pressing a little harder this time.
The space between the "T" and the "A"  (in ART) are done with shades of reds...but notice this space is ALWAYS the same color family....inside the top of the "A", is always yellow and yellow orange...the bottom of the "A" is always aqua and dark blue. Use color to reinforce the symmetrical balance you have throughout your design.
Above the word "ART" and above the "Waves", I opted for shades for water....used copics and regular markers to color the stripes...make sure you color them in the same order to reinforce the pattern. Over the stripes I used more gel pens to add dots and stripes for more details.
More markers, copics and gel pens were used in the triangles. However, inside the words "sets me" I used colored pencils. I colored in each closed section with a different color but did now shade like I had in the word Art. Once colored, I outlined "me" with the thin end of a turquoise tombow....then magenta around the word "sets". Background behind that was colored with a light green copic. Inverted triangles were done using all gel pens....repeating the yellow/orange/pink from what I had done in between the rays of sun in the center.

Finally "FREE" was done was done with 2 blue copics and the blender pen ....highlights done with white signo uniball in between, colored with colored pencils adding value with dark and lights of the same color family...Tombows used to color the suns in between "free"...with added touches of gel pens for added details.

WARNING: do not attempt this in one will not feel your booty for several days!)...just sayin'! I did the basic design and black outlining in one day....followed by one section or two the following few days.

And that ladies and gentlemen is all she wrote! (Thank GOD!)


  1. Replies
    1. Hey Jean, thanks for leaving a sweet of you. I know you have already done one....but maybe this well help a bit more with added detailed directions my other post was missing. can't wait to see more of your mandalas!!!!!!!

  2. Fantastic job putting this lesson together Linda!!! I'll be sure and follow your advice about NOT trying to complete it in a single sitting!

    1. Thanks are always so kind with your comments...I so greatly appreciate them! yes...most definitely....BABY STEPS!!!!!

  3. BEAUTIFUL!! So stunning. I can't wait to give it a try. And your class did an amazing job as well! Gotta tell ya, I have no hope for aiming at what you accomplished. But if I can get mine to look anywhere close to what your kids did, I'll be a happy camper! :0)

    1. Thank you Nickalli for leaving a comment...I still get so exciting when people visit my blog...I know it's not much...but makes me happy! lol.
      I wasn't sure if I should leave pics of the student's work...but I realized people may be overwhelmed with it all..and seeing the students work in a more simple version would be easier to see and maybe understand. You can make Mandalas as simple or as complicated as you want.
      I bet you will totally surprise yourself. Once you decide on on section's's basically just repeating it 7 more times to get the balance.
      I can't wait to see your so HAVE to post it! no excuses missy!
      have steps....or your ass will be numb for days!

  4. AND you did all those pages that you posted, too?! Amazing job! I'll try this if they don't keep kicking the dogs and us out while they show the house - and of course I have to put everything away and clean first, as well. But with enough coffee, I can stay up a few more hours a night! Carolyn.

    1. thanks carolyn.....i have gotten in the habit of taken pictures of things in various stages...just in case my classmates I'm a visual learner so it's just so much easier for me to see pics.....the black and white ones that are framed I did a few years ago when I taught it to my 7th when i saw the framed medallions in an interior catalog for a bazillion dollars...I figured shoot, i can do that.....but FYI, the framing is what kills ya! OY!
      well do it in baby steps and it won't be so messy.....and easier to clean up for when you have to show your house....good luck with that by the way....thanks for you lovely comments.

    2. I used to despair over the cost of frames, then I discovered Goodwill and SA - amazing frames for almost nothing! Your work is wonderful, and the lesson is very thorough!

  5. Wow, this looks like a time-consuming project! But fun...and I can just feel myself already getting into the old art trance with it. Thanks for the detailed directions, Linda! Your examples are gorgeous!! I'll give it a go!

    1. Thanks definitely took a few why I posted the warning...your butt will definitely go numb. you can make it as complicated as you can see from the student samples, they still look cool even if not too detailed. you can do it all in marker like they did, or mix it up.....all up to you. thanks for leaving a comment...i still get so excited when i see a comment on my blog! lol...I know, silly....thanks again, L

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  7. Oh here it is to leave a comment!!!!!! You rock it sister! This is an AWESOME tutorial. Love you to bits!!!! jo

    1. oh yeah.... was worried something wasn't working....thank you for the lovely know it means so much to me! you are an awesome teacher....just trying to keep up with YOU! lol...smooches back at ya!

  8. Wow! Awesome use of Joanne's Class & your talent with tangles! Love it Linda! Thanks for the tutorial - very well explained... got me some major eye candy! LOVE YOUR WORK!

    Sandy S

    1. Sandy you are a sweet heart, thank you so much!I hope all my ramblings and 20 pages of instructions didn't make ya nuts! see this is what happens when you teach middle school kids....gotta explain every little detail....can't wait to see yours...i so admire your work!

  9. Wow, Linda, awesome lesson and blog! I really wanna give it a go.I think i can..i think i can... Might take me a few weeks though. You are so inspiring with great information included. I would have loved to have u as an art teacher!

    1. thanks Deb. you're very kind. take your time....seriously not a lesson for one sitting...that's for sure. I'm glad i can give you some inspiration. awwwww,'re so sweet....can't wait to see your sure to post a pic.
      thanks again

  10. You are going to be a hard act to follow, sweetie! This is a great, detailed it and can't wait to have the time to do this! Thanks for the inspiration! (I have my circles drawn!)

    1. sharon, paaaaahlease...i just saw your lesson and it ROCKS SISTA! i can't wait to try it! geesh...and you even added video links....impressive....i wish i knew how to do all that stuff! lol. well i can't wait to see your work...i know it will be amazing...just like you!

  11. You should continue posting on your blog. I quite enjoy your posts. I know you have lots to share...keep them coming ! Patsy

  12. These are so beautiful!! Wow! Another thing to add to my list. Thanks for the post.

  13. Ran across this on Pinterest. Great instructions! Thankie!

  14. Just saw this as it was a suggested "pin" (new to pinterest). I love mandalas and like your instructional method which seems easy enough for an art-simpleton like me to follow. Thanks!

  15. You did a wonderful job breaking down the steps of mandala creation. Makes me think even a 'non-artist' like myself could create something, shall we say, interesting. In the meantime, I shall take your coloring instruction to heart and see how it improves my coloring skills while working with mandalas designed by others.