Mandala Monday: Mandalas for conversation & processing.


“The crucial variable in the process of turning knowledge into value is creativity.”
John Kao

Last week was a big week for processing.  {And that sentence is just too small to contain the shift and movement that I know are coming!}  It’s actually been a HUGE week for processing.  Which means lots of time in the pages and a couple of long conversations with my long-time, heart friend, Candi.  These mandalas were drawn while she and I were having epic phone conversations.  {One of those times was literally in the middle of the night, when we realized that we were both awake.  Thank you twitter.}

I often draw during conversation or when I’m taking notes.   The rhythm of drawing mandalas soothes my bouncing brain and keeps me present.  Of course if something strikes me, I write it down, thus these mandalas are surrounded by lists of books to read, wisdom and insights from dear friends and the thoughts and dreams that ultimately emerge in the entire process.

Mandala 5Jan2012 {acrylic, paper scraps, Pilot Precise V5 extra fine, Derwent watersoluble Graphitone & metallics}

Today’s list – January Books:

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron {re-visiting w a friend.  Still full of wisdom and movement.}

The Mandala Workbook by Susan Fincher {I think I’ll just keep cycling through these exercises.  Beautiful & deep}

The book of Ephesians by St. Paul {Oh, I love to study…}

A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor {The Bluestocking Babes are reading short stories}

By |2016-10-19T14:20:33-04:00January 9th, 2012|Journals, Mandala Monday|4 Comments

Mandala Monday: A mandala for starting

Mandala for starting

“Winning starts with beginning.” Robert Schuller

Starting a new journal is simultaneously exciting and intimidating.  All those blank pages…

Not ever knowing how to start, I usually skipped the first few pages of a new journal, until I read a wonderful post by Stephanie Smith over at Rhodia Drive about her practice of adding a mandala at the front of each journal that she begins.  The idea of blessing a book with intention resonated with me.    It was such an epiphany.  Mandalas are beautiful & contemplative and after drawing/painting them for years, flow easily from my finger tips.

I recently finished both a morning pages painting journal and a my-story-all-in-one-place book.  So, this morning, found me with a new Morning Pages book full of nothing but white pages.  I painted a mandala on the inside cover, entering the book with intentions of honesty & consistency.  Here’s to showing up to the pages.

Good Morning

{Derwent inktense pencils, watercolor, India ink w brush, acrylic, Tattered Angels glimmer mist}

By |2016-10-19T14:20:33-04:00September 12th, 2011|Art is Life is Art, Mandala Monday|3 Comments

A manadala for prayer & poetry

Recently attended this conference w/ R and two of the boys.

Mandala for poetry

There were prayers, discussions & questions and a lot of space made for prayers, discussions & questions.

this is your day to explore

bring an Expectant Heart

There were blessings and wise words spoken by David Taylor, author of For the Beauty of the Church. I asked that my copy of his book be inscribed with a pastoral blessing. I confess I’ve re-read the inscription several times.  Blessings are like that… easy to return to, as they give us clarity and gumption.   Wonderful to have poured over our heads or put into words to keep close by.


{May God grant you the grace to discern the specific contours of your calling pastorally and bless you to expand beauty upon the earth.}

Habits define us.

choose and rechoose and rechoose

The evening wrapped up with a poetry reading and some beautiful music; and as is often my habit when listening, I drew.  Anya Silver’s poetry put me in mind of trees with deep roots & the regular things, that in their simplicity, capture hearts.  I came home with a slim volume of her poems called, The Ninety-third Name of God. The impact of these words has been anything but slim…  Attend again next year?  Yes, please.

Mandala for poetry

By |2016-10-19T14:20:34-04:00August 25th, 2011|Art is Life is Art|2 Comments

Mandala Monday: stamps & a word

One of my BIG Painting sisters, Lauren recently shared a link to these fabulous wooden stamps from THE INDIAN BLOCK COMPANY.  {I’ll post photos as soon as I get permission, or buy my own, whichever comes first!}  I love all of them, but the circle ones in particular got my heart to beating.  They are very mandala-ish and are officially on my wish list!  {And I’m saving my pennies to have a couple of wild thyme designs turned into stamps.}

Maybe one of these…  {I love dreaming of possibilities.}

mandala detail

And speaking of possibilities…

The word for May is REDEMPTION.  It fairly jumped of the list that Meghan sent me.  So, there’s a dream & word.

The verb for today is GO.

By |2016-10-19T14:20:36-04:00May 2nd, 2011|Art is Life is Art, Mandala Monday|0 Comments

Mandala Monday {on Tuesday}: A mandala for discussing

a book discussion mandala

I recently spent a long weekend with my book club, The Bluestocking Babes.  We’ve been meeting for 6 years and have a nice list of reads to our credit.  We’ve also been delighted to find that, in addition to discussing books, we can easily be together.  We are mostly morning birds;  so by 7am, there is coffee brewing and by 10pm, one of us has fallen asleep watching a movie.  In short, we have the same basic rhythm to our days, so we’re up early, out the door to find an antique shop or two and back “home” to cook for each other in the evenings.  {On a side note: I have yet to get them to watch a Jane Austen movie with me… I think they are frightened by my selection skills as I have chosen the highest number of We-Didn’t-Like-This-Book-At-All books.}

I doodle when I chat

During one of our late evening dinners, we discussed The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf.  Thus far, it is one of our 2011 favorites.  I love that when we talk books, we talk life.  Yes, we usually have a guide and some questions, but we “rabbit trail” off into wonderful conversations.  And we laugh.  Oh, my goodness, if you’re going to start a book club, make sure that at least one person is funny.  I think one of our best qualities as a group is that we laugh.  It makes the bad books redeemable and gives the good books extra dimension.

April calendar & mandala

Of course, while we excavate, I always have my journal out.  I doodle or take notes and often document the hilarious or profound things that get said.  This time round there was a blank page next to my April calendar and the conversation was a mandala discussion.  As we discussed foreshadowing and characters, it was easy to enter into the rhythm of drawing and turning the page around and drawing and turning the page around.

We talked.  I sketched.

I'll find a place for you...

On the way home we made one last antique store stop.  One of my finds was a little bag of buttons.  Some of them are broken and some of them still have old thread.  None of them match.  But I came home and put them in a tea cup to stare at for inspiration.  Later in the week while chatting with my good friend, Candi, I added buttons to the page.  {I’ve made a deal with myself that if I’m on the phone, I have to be doing something with my hands.  I usually unload the dishwasher.}

focus on my favorite button

I love how the page turned out.  {My favorite button is the cat-eye mother of pearl on the right.}

Do you doodle when you chat?

By |2016-10-19T14:20:36-04:00April 26th, 2011|Art is Life is Art, Mandala Monday|3 Comments

Mandala Monday: Mandala for Listening


Had tea with friend yesterday.  It was one of those epic catch up kind of afternoons.  We sat in the sun, on the patio of a restaurant that’s around the corner.  {She only lives about a mile-and-a-half down the street; I’m not sure how we went so long without sitting in the same space…}  The weather was perfect, as it often is this time of year in Atlanta.  The desserts were sweet.  {And so was the company.}  As usual, I had a journal and a couple of pens.

A Mandala for Listening.

Her story was long and deep – and the rhythm of mandalas keeps my hands moving and helps me listen.  {And stay quiet…}

Mandala for Listening

And a sister mandala from the same conversation: 

A Mandala for Prayer

It’s comprised of words and thoughts in the round.  A prayer both as it was made and for returning.

Mandala for Prayer

By |2016-10-19T14:20:37-04:00March 14th, 2011|Art is Life is Art, Mandala Monday|2 Comments

Mandala Monday: Moonflower Mandala

moonflower mandala

True story:  I snapped this photo with my iPhone and then went inside to get the “real camera” for some more detailed shots.  My intention was sit down to add more to this mandala, made from seed pods and winter interest collected during our weekend garden chores.  However, when I returned, the cat had been playing and the wind had been blowing and the morning agenda was “to the wind”, so to speak.


The art is teaching; I am still learning…

Dance with change

By |2016-10-19T14:20:37-04:00February 28th, 2011|Art is Life is Art, Lessons from the garden|4 Comments

Mandala Monday: {or Thursday} sketches in journals

2011 marks the fifth time that I have begun the calendar year with an extended fast.  These fasting experiences have been life-changing.  And while I’ve been delighted with the physical and emotional benefits of feeling light and clear; for me, it is first and foremost, a spiritual endeavor.  The first year that I took up the journey, was full of victory.  Quite frankly, because of my intimate connection with food, I emerged, delighted that I even survived!  I managed to cook for my family, make it through blood-sugar ups and downs and deal with my grumpy self.  I substituted verbal prayer for food and came out at the end with a huge sense of accomplishment and perspective.  It wasn’t until it was over that I realized I hadn’t really documented the journey very well.  No journaling, photographs or epiphanies, just survival and jeans that were a little loose.


In the subsequent years, I have been more proactive about journaling/capturing the insights and clarity that come during a fast.  And, for the past four years have also chosen a Word-for-the-Year.  {Although it feels more like the words choose me…}


Somewhere amidst the writing and words, I also started using images and drawings to capture the insights that come when food is out of the way.   Unbeknownst to me, art journalers all over the world were already combining everything like this.   But for me, to stop compartmentalizing my art world and my word world, was a new discovery.  The fasting, in it’s clarifying, back-door way pointed to the “everything journals” that have become part of my daily practice.   In the last two years, the images and sketches have included mandalas.  They are my go-to sketches.  I love how, whatever my actual level of awareness, they seem to capture mood and place.  Whether it’s facilitating the start of a drawing or relaxing to let the word flow begin, mandalas are all over my pages.  Here is this year’s word ACTIVATE with matching doodles and mandalas.  Hey 2011, I believe we’re off to a good start.

Activate - doodle 1

Activate - doodle 2

By |2016-10-19T14:20:37-04:00February 2nd, 2011|Art is Life is Art, Journals|0 Comments

Mandala Monday: More circles

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been involved in this workshop:

In one series of painting exercises, I was pleased {but not surprised} to see circles.  Lots of circles.  Very similar to the simple mandalas from this month’s exercises in The Mandala Workbook by Susanne F. Fincher

Here are a few of the paintings.  23×30 Acrylic on paper.

exploration in shape

Scribble in pink

Scribble in blue

By |2016-10-19T14:20:37-04:00January 24th, 2011|Art, Mandala Monday|0 Comments

Mandala Monday: Qualities of the Circle

This year, finds me revisiting a favorite book from last year.

The Mandala Workbook by Susanne F. Fincher is a workbook full of activities for exploring mandalas via various types of artistic mediums.  When I realized that my read through the workbook last year didn’t begin to scratch the surface of this hands-on guide, I decided to take a more systematic pass through the book.   This year, I’ll be spending a month in each chapter adding the paintings, drawings & collages to my “everything” journal.  I decided against keeping a separate journal, because I want to see the mandalas in the context of my personal journaling and life details.

Qualities of the Circle

January 7, 2011

Qualities of the Circle, Variation II

{drawing circles using both dominant & non-dominant hand}

“Respect your limitations” Written with my left hand,  {I’m right-handed…} the text that ended up on this page came from a phrase that stood out in my morning yoga practice.  Drawing with your non-dominant hand not only changes line quality, but ability to control.  The journaling that followed this exercise led to some personal insight into the way that I approach mistakes and limitations.  I had to spend some time working with my non-dominant hand before I was comfortable enough to be creative.  Eventually, I even forgot which lines came from which hand.   Am also working in a handmade journal that has relatively thin paper.  To compensate, I’ve shifted to more pencil and less worry about bleed-through.  Am finding more and more, that despite the fact that I like to function in strength when I create, there is wonderful art to be born out of response, learning curve & discomfort.

By |2016-10-19T14:20:38-04:00January 10th, 2011|Art is Life is Art, Journals|0 Comments

Behind the pages: NaNoJouMo 5-8

“The sooner I fall behind, the more time I have to catch up.” Anonymous

Have been journaling with the NaNoJouMo prompt every day this month, but I’m still catching up on photographing and posting pages.  Partly because we’ve had painters and plumbers and extra projects going on here at the house getting ready for the Christmas Journal Workshop.  Despite the fact that I’ve been feeling the stress of deadlines and extras, I’m excited.  We’ve put together some really great give-aways for the attendees and the studio is looking great!

I’ll share more in the next couple of days, {seriously excited about what’s coming for Christmas!} but in the meantime, here are some pages.



{watercolor, Pitt pen, Staz-on black ink & butterfly rub ons}

Added definition and text to an existing mandala page.  The color on the page started with blue, but the orange made sense.  Text reads as follows:


[ee-kwuh-nim-i-tee]  noun. 1. mental or emotional STABILITY or composure especially under tension or strain; CALMNESS; EQUILIBRIUM.

I don’t think I possess this quality… Rands does.  I usually crumble with an almost audible IMPLOSION.  I wish I responded to life with equanimity… I don’t.   But I also believe that my “SENSITIVITY”  is part of my art and how I do life.  It’s WHO I AM WHEN I TUNE IN.  Actually, Life makes me SIZZLE.”

Life makes me sizzle



oh hey scary thoughts... page detail

Earl Grey tea tags

ESOTERIC mandala detail

{index card, masking tape, tea tags, Crayola crayon, watercolor, 6B pencil}

Hit some deep {and private} thoughts in my journaling, so I taped them up…  Text reads:

“Oh hey DEEP & SCARY thoughts.  Sometimes you creep up on me.  I want to keep you, but I think I’ll use some tape.”


MOMENT {NaNoJouMo 7}

MOMENT detail

MOMENT detail

{gesso, watercolor, gel transfer, ink, Tattered Angel Glimmer Mist in Graphite w paper towel press for texture, tissue paper and scrap Excel doc as underlayers, acrylic scraped w credit card}


VIRTUE {NaNoJouMo 8}

{masking tape, Pitt pen, security envelope scrap, gesso, gel transfer}

By |2016-10-19T14:20:38-04:00November 16th, 2010|Journals|0 Comments