Sunday, July 25, 2010

The first stages of a personal mandala I am working on for Suzanne. Initially I start with a mandala form asking for information on colours, shapes, animals, mythological creatures, symbols, landscape elements, aims, beliefs...etc etc and then I make a rough sketch out of those details. Often the first flash or idea from this information is the most inspired and I tend to go with that as the central image.

I divide the mandala up into the sections that are asked for and fill it in with shapes and landscape elements so that the whole image will flow. In this case Suzanne has asked for birds as a focus in her mandala and Australian landscapes. She has also chosen dragons, fairies and angels for symbol and myth.

Once I start sketching the original I use a compass to get all the circles of the mandala inside and out and use a small circle template to get the little circles. I like to think that my mandalas are a little organic and flow in their content but neat and tidy in their structure and 'borders' - I find it easier to work this way. I also rule lines across the center of the mandala, from the top to the bottom and diagonally from each corner. This makes it easier to use the circle templates and to get the balance of the image right.

I get people to choose at least four colours for their mandala and I always decide on where to place the colours after I have drawn up the mandala in pencil. Working with colour is really intuitive and for me finding the right balance comes by spreading the colour around instead of just using it in one place. If you use it a lot in the lower section, its good to repeat it in dibs and dabs in the top to carry it through.

Initially I use watercolour pencils to mark out the colour areas. I find the pencils faster and easier to use then normal watercolours - you colour them in quickly and then paint them in with water. I do this to create a good base to work on for the next stage in the layering of the mandala which involves 'colouring it in' with wax based pencils. You can see the next stage here.


  1. I really enjoyed reading about your process and seeing the individual stages. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  2. It is a beautiful and delicate work that you do, I'd love to have my mandala, maybe someday I will ask you to do me one, for now I leave you a hug paty

  3. Great post! It's nice to see your process! I haven't tried watercolour pencils before, nore the wax based pencils, I'll have to give it a shot. I can't wait to read your follow up post :)

  4. I love reading the processes of your work.
    I stare at the painting you made me trying to work out how you built it up.

  5. love your process and your art!

  6. Wow- thanks so much for the tips! I really appreciate your generosity in sharing your process!