Blog Archives

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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Tessellation 7

My newly completed drawing is the seventh in my series of Tessellations all based on a single shape. This one has taken me longer than usual to complete–our Thanksgiving trip to Cincinnati came just after I was about half-way into the drawing. Coming back to it after that time away was hard yet rewarding.

Concentrating on the drawing has taken my mind off politics (UGH!). I sat at my drawing table and got lost in lines and shadows. My only concern each day for hours at a time was whether a line should be darker or if an area would look more dimensional, showing more motion if shading was added.  As the drawing appears right now, it may or may not be finished. I’ve decided to look at it for a few days–and then determine if it might need a bit more added detail in some of the open areas. Time will tell.

drawing, graphite on paper,Tessellation 7; 2016; graphite on paper; 22″ x 30″

Here is a fun detail shot of the drawing I took at a low sideways angle. I was completely surprised with how dimensional it looked this way. Who knows? I might turn this oddly angled “anamorphic-looking” photo into a mirrored pattern drawing. The fun never ends!

drawing, graphite on paper,Tessellation 7 (detail on an angle); 2016; graphite on paper; 22″ x 30″

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Tessellation 6

A new drawing completed this week; it’s number 6 in my Tessellation Series. I hope to add more drawings to this series and then search out a place to exhibit them. All the drawings are based on the same shape that is an interlocking pattern. The tessellated shape is very evident in this iteration–but in other drawings the shape is quite hidden.

drawing, graphite on paper,Tessellation 6; 22″ x 30″; Graphite on paper; 2016

Tessellation 6 detailTessellation 6 (detail); 22″ x 30″; Graphite on paper; 2016

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New Work: Circle Swirl

I just completed a new drawing called Circle Swirl. It is the first in what I hope will be a small sub-series of my Patterns of Obsession drawings. There are about 3 more preliminary sketches on my studio wall waiting their turn on the drawing board. This Swirl sub-series began with a rather small sketch I did years ago with a Sharpie pen, which I recently photographed. The digital file was then manipulated into several far more complex patterns. The resulting manipulated image was then drawn on paper using graphite pencil, the result of which you see below.

In the next month or two, Circle Swirl will be converted into a laser-cut linocut at Santo Press. It will be printed in several editions with variations of color in an 8″ square format. Additionally, I plan to hand-cut a large linoleum block (16″ square) which will also be printed at Santo Press. Thank God for Brent Bond! He doesn’t know it yet, but I want to use a rainbow roll behind the patterned image similar to the 2 editions we collaborated on in 2015;  Leaf Stripes (Dark) & Leaf Stripes (Light) .

As you can see, I’ve got big plans!

Circle SwirlCircle Swirl, 2016, graphite on paper, 16″ x 16″ on Stonehenge paper 22″ x 22″

Circle Swirl (detail)Circle Swirl (detail)

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