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The Mandala Series: A Peaceful Center in a World Gone Mad

Mandalas have fascinated me for a very long time. It coincided with dreamwork and my study of Jungian symbols (of which mandalas play a primary role) and the vast richness that transpersonal psychology holds. According to Jung in Memories, Dreams and Reflections:

“The mandala is an archetypal image whose occurrence is attested throughout the ages. It signifies the wholeness of the Self. This circular image represents the wholeness of the psychic ground or, to put it in mythic terms, the divinity incarnate in man.”

In the late 80’s I made a few colorful mandalas using watercolors but have no idea where they are now–probably hidden away in a drawer of my flat files where they shall forever remain.

Then in 1992 I was fortunate to watch Tibetan monks create a beautiful sand mandala for close to a week at The Frick Pittsburgh. The monks created a Chenrezig Mandala which is a manifestation of compassion and was meant to be viewed as an architectural plan or structure. I brought my sketchbook and made a few quick studies of the designs but (sadly) I don’t think I took photos. It was pre-digital cameras–and cell phones were just phones.

Study of Tibetan sand painting mandala; sketchbook page; 1992

I went almost every day they were there. One day they permitted me to try using their tools and colored sand. As can be expected, it was much harder than I thought to get the sand to fall evenly in the designated area. Have a look at these beautiful photos of a Chenrezig Mandala–this mandala was created in Salisbury, England in 2013 is very similar to the mandala I saw being created.

Jumping to the present day, I wanted to create circular patterns based on my own version of repeating patterns within a circular (mandala) form. I sought to make a mandala based on quadrants but bisecting those 4 quadrants into 8 separate spokes to form a more complicated pattern. Are these mandalas representations of my inner self? I really don’t know, but I do think they are my attempt to create a sense of wholeness and a place where I can feel a peaceful center in a world gone totally mad.

Here are the first 2 mandalas (with detail shots) in this new series. Hopefully the third mandala will be finished today–there are at least a dozen more ideas ready and waiting in the wings.

Mandala 1 (Ribbonesque); Graphite on paper; 22 x 22 inches; 2018

Mandala 1 (Ribbonesque) detail; Graphite on paper; 22 x 22 inches; 2018

Mandala 2 (leaf); Graphite on paper; 22 x 22 inches; 2018

Mandala 2 (leaf) detail; Graphite on paper; 22 x 22 inches; 2018

Now completed–the third one!

Mandala 3 (Nest); Graphite on paper; 22 x 22 inches; 2018

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1967/Swirl

The 1967/Swirl print is complete. It is a “companion” to my larger 1967 Swirl painting from the Sixties Paintings series. The print is a 2-color laser-cut linoleum block printed by Brent Bond at Santo Press. Stay tuned–there may be a few more prints in this Psychedelic series. Plans are in the works for some small editions using decorative chine collé papers.

1967/Swirl is 11 x 14 inches on Hahnemuhle paper 15 x 17.5 inches; printed in an edition of 30. It is available for $250.

 

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The Suite Sixties: Side by Side

I wanted to post these paintings in a horizontal banner to show how they relate to one another–how the designs are related and yet completely different. The Suite Sixties–side by side.

1965, 1966, 1967; acrylic gouache on paper; image size 32 x 32 inches.

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My Newest Edition from Santo Press!

This one is so new it is not even signed yet! Just printed and published by Brent Bond and his marvelous and incredibly busy Santo Press, this 3-color reduction lino print was both laser-cut and hand-cut. It also has some offset hand inking using sheets of wrinkled wax paper.

While trying to come up with an unusual background texture for this print, (and many failed attempts) I was inspired to create an unusual way to crease the wax paper. It dawned on me that I could try creasing the wax paper the same way silk is creased to form wrinkles in Shibori textile dyeing. This provided an unusual and delicate pattern on the wax paper which I call  Shibori-esque. I rolled a sheet of wax paper on a narrow wooden dowel and then pushed the paper down exactly like the pole-wrapping  technique (minus the string) used in Japan to dye textiles.

Brent masterfully incorporated the wrinkles of the wax paper with it’s lacey creases in an overlay of pale yellow on a darker orange ground. This print is the second of what will be a series of three 3-color reduction linocuts published by Santo Press. You can read about Web Mesh, the first print of the series here.

Web Pathway, Print by Janet Towbin, Web Pathway; 2017, reduction linocut; 10″ x 8″ on 14″ x 11″ paper; variable edition of 30; published by SantoPress.

Shibori technique wax paper sampleA close look at the Shibori-esque wax paper filled with delicate crinkles and patterns.

Brent Bond placing the wax paperPlacing the Shibori-esque wax paper on inked plate for 3rd color off-set.

Brent Bond using a roller to off-set print the 3rd colorBrent using a roller to offset print the 3rd color. The hand pressure exerted by the brayer causes the crinkled wax paper to push into the ink, leaving it’s crazed, lace-like markings in the ink.

brent 3The wax paper is removed, taking away a layer of ink–and leaving the crinkled impression behind. The 2-color print is then run through the press transferring the Shibori-esque, crinkled texture of the wax paper as the third and final color.

 

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