A friend asked me to show him how to make mandalas recently. He thought mine were quite complex and beautiful, and I remembered how much fun it was to learn when I was starting out as a henna artist a few years ago. So I thought I’d write up a quick tutorial and share it here, on the blog. These are the actual doodles and drawings I ran up in my sketchbook for my buddy, mistakes and all, so I figured why not put them up too.
Y’all, they’re totally easy to make. No, seriously. They are like cake from a box once you figure it out. I think of them as a meditation and make them when I need to calm my mind, be still and focused.
You start in the center and you work your way out to the edges of the page. It can be as symmetrical, or not, as you like. It can be round, triangular, flower shaped, whatever. By the time you get out to the ends of the page it is like, WOW! OMG! COMPLEX! but as you work, it is really very simple and relaxing. Just keep adding elements and working around in layers.
It is kind of a metaphor for life, when you break life down. The big stuff is scary and complicated and overwhelming, but if you break it down to component pieces (Breathe. Eat lunch. Get your tires fixed.) it’s a lot easier. One foot in front of the other. Chop wood and carry water, you know?
You just keep going around, taking deceptively simple elements and moments, and weaving them into something beautiful. Sound like your life, yet? Dunno, I think of the mandala as a pretty powerful metaphor for life.
Every mandala I make uses really simple elements. Dots. Spirals. Petals. Bumps. As I’ve said before, I come from a henna background, so East Indian art and style really informs the stuff I make. For me, the challenge has been branching out into different symbols, using geometry, mixing it up a little. Every artist has their own style and symbol system. The trick is to take your symbols and style, and create the meditation that works for you. Some folks really like perfection in their work. I’m way more of a just diving in and winging it kind of gal – which is funny, but that’s a lot how I live my life too. There’s precious little perfection, but I come up with some interesting results and it’s never boring.
And just like life, there are some things that are helpful to know. Like, biscuit cutters working really well if you need a circle, or the fact that you don’t have to stick yourself into some pre-approved shape. That simply playing is important and that you can always go back and add stuff later. There’s no mistake you can’t fix, or work into something else.
Keep playing at it, keep working at it, add some colors, and eventually you wind up with something quite intricate and beautiful.
So that’s my little mandala tutorial, and my weekend challenge to you. Take an hour or two, play with shapes and colors and lines, and try your hand at a circular, mandala life meditation. I’d love to see what you come up with!
Want inspiration? Check out these mandala artists!
Jamie McAlpin’s flickr feed. There are no words for how much I love this artist.
The amazing Stephanie Smith who chronicles her mandala journey at Spiritual Evolution Of The Bean.
The Mandala group feed on Flickr.
Y’all, there’s a ton out there. The other place that’s good to go for basics and inspiration is The Henna Page. Believe it or not, they’ve got tons of free designs up, including a kick ass series on basic motifs you can practice and break down.
Have fun and happy weekending!
PS: I’m so happy to share this tutorial with you, but everything I post on my blog is for your personal artistic use only- not for resale or redistribution. Please contact me if you are interested in using this as a class resource or workshop handout. Thank you!!! All contents of this website are copyright to me, Rain Hannah.