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mandala daze

An assortment of colored pencils

An assortment of colored pencils (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Under the influence of the friend I stayed with right after I moved to San Francisco in 1974, I bought a box of crayons and some colored pencils and jumped into mandala-making. The practice involved creating a new one each day. My first efforts were kind of crude, but the intention was to develop self-awareness rather than to create works of art.

Nevertheless, I was dissatisfied with the slapdash approach that seemed to be necessary in order to produce a new mandala every day. I started being more deliberate and spending more than one day working on each one. Right around then, I met RC (my partner of 30 years), who was a very talented artist. He was working with the mandala form on both small and large scales. He had a stash of drafting tools (among other stashes) and showed me how to use them (the drafting tools). We got into the habit of spending hours sitting together at the dining table, each working on our own drawings.

I made a couple dozen mandalas using markers and colored pencils and developed a heavy Prismacolor habit. We framed a few and hung them on the wall. But i stuck them inside a manila folder a decade or two ago and filed it away in such a safe place I haven’t been able to lay my hands on it for years. In the course of looking for it, however, I unearthed a number of other things I’d forgotten I’d kept or had lost track of. So it’s fitting that last week, while looking for something entirely unrelated, I finally found the manila folder containing the mandalas!

The ones I like best are:

Mandala #1

Mandala #1

Mandala #2

Mandala #2

Mandala #3

Mandala #3

Mandala #4

Mandala #4

Mandala #5

Mandala #5

Mandala #6

Mandala #6

Mandala #7

Mandala #7

Mandala #8

Mandala #8

All of these were created in 1975 and 1976, before the advent of the personal computer and scanner. It was a different time and place, a different way of life. That’s one of the reasons I’m glad to have found them. They remind me of living at a slower pace, of paying attention to things in a different way, and of the companionable evenings RC and I spent together.

I still enjoy coloring mandalas occasionally, but even though I have that stash (of drafting tools) around here somewhere, I haven’t taken the time to draw my own designs in so long it seems unlikely I’ll ever do it again. But that’s OK. That was then, and this is now.

Is there something you once really got into and enjoyed, but that you no longer do–or maybe no longer even think about?

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doodlin’

Once upon a time, in a life far far away, I came upon the instructions for an activity called creative doodling. Before describing it, though, I have to confess to a tendency I may have been born with to absorb activities like this one and then immediately turn around and teach them to any person or group halfway willing to give them a try. I used to say about myself that I was born to disseminate information. But the complete truth is that I was also born to show you how to do this stuff–whether you want to do it or not. Well, I haven’t actually hogtied anyone yet. That would be kind of counterproductive when it comes to creative doodling.

Creative doodling is an art therapy exercise, but don’t let that put you off. It’s also fun. And so easy to do. Start with your dominant hand.

  1. Get out a couple of pieces of drawing paper (larger is better), masking tape, and some colored markers or crayons.
  2. Tape a piece of paper to a flat surface with masking tape to keep it from moving around.
  3. Choose a marker or crayon.
  4. Close your eyes and run your hand over the page to locate the edges.
  5. With your eyes still closed, start drawing on the page. Don’t lift the marker off the paper; your drawing should be composed of one unbroken line.
  6. Don’t try to draw anything in particular. Just let your hand (and marker) wander all over the page until you feel like you’re done.
  7. Open your eyes and check out your work. Look at it this way and that (sideways, upside down) until you find an image in it. The image can take up most of your drawing or only a portion of it. It can be fairly complete or only hinted at.
  8. Once you’ve found your image, use the rest of your markers to elaborate it.
  9. When you’re done, title your drawing.
  10. Repeat with your non-dominant hand. (You can use your dominant hand to finish the drawing.)

These are examples of two of my creative doodles, the first with my right hand and the second with my left hand.

Right hand: Impossibility Takes Flight

Right hand: Impossibility Takes Flight

Left hand: Turkey-Swan

Left hand: Turkey-Swan

I include them to demonstrate that NO artistic talent whatsoever is required for this activity.

I love color and I enjoy coloring, so sometimes I do this just for fun. But it’s an activity that can also provide a little personal insight if you take the extra step and either journal about the pictures or at least tell yourself their stories. Another thing to do is write down the first five or six words that come to mind when you look at a finished drawing.

This doodle, Bird’s Eye View, is one of my favorites.

Right Hand: Bird's Eye View

My doodles tend to include a lot of critters, among them a one-eyed flying fish and a rather demented frog. That’s just what I see. So now you know.

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