The Watching Mandala

All things in cycles

My dad linked me the other day to a video of someone making a complicated mandala in just minutes digitally using an app.  Said app turns out to be iOS only and only works well if you’ve got a fancy iPad and Apple Pencil and all that.

In the comments, however, someone linked to some Illustrator templates for this kind of thing.  Not free, but at such a reasonable price point that I decided to toss money at a possible solution to my current struggles with my current solutions for radial symmetrical designs.

Spoiler: it is magic

Seriously, I do not know how they work but they are smooth.  My only regret is that they don’t have any with 8-fold symmetry, so expect a lot more 9-fold, 10-fold, and 12-fold symmetrical designs.

And that prompted me to go looking for a rabbit hole to go down about the term “mandala” and what actual historical and religious mandalas look like and how we came to call these other designs with radial symmetry “mandalas”, but I’m struggling with search terms so that will be another post.  Please comment or email if you have suggestions or links to research!

What you’re really here for

This is one of the new designs I made with these new templates (plus some Photoshop for the color gradient, which is probably now looking pixelly because I shrank it from the enormous version I made for RedBubble.).

a radially symmetrical design with concentric circles, curliques, and dots and a background of green, blue, and purple

Bonus SALE on RedBubble!

Today only, 20% off everything on RedBubble with the code perfect20-ninthcircle … and baby needs a new tablet. Just sayin’.

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Always Be Pushing Your Art Boundaries

When struggling with a thing you don’t want to do, go do art?

In a fit of wanting to just Do An Art Thing, I printed out the mandala from Mandala Microsample on some plain copier paper and busted out the colored pencils.

A design with 8-fold radial symmetry featuring flowers and shapes is colored in blues and greens with yellow, red, and orange details

What I learned from that was that pressing the pencils hard enough to achieve bright colors made my wrists ache.  I also didn’t like the way they didn’t blend well.

Which turned out to be a perfect moment to be lured out to one of those “non-painters come paint and drink” places.  I painted a thing and it’s not great and it’s in acrylic and it’s not the subject matter I would have chosen and yet.

And yet it got me working backwards of what my “do the thing I know how to do first” inclination and so we did backgrounds before foregrounds and gosh that worked, huh.

And yet it got me doing wet on wet and blending on the canvas not just the palette (I mean, the “palette” was a paper plate, there’s only so much one can do) and some of it not actually blending but being textured and gosh that worked, too.

And yet it reminded me that I have a stack of canvases and brushes and oil paints and such in the closet of my office/studio.

So now what?

Somehow the next step doesn’t seem to be painting with acrylics or even oils, but markers and watercolors.  I’m still not sure how that worked out, and I’m deeply unsure if it’s working.  At least I’m putting in hours towards the ten thousand, eh?

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In Which I Return To Doing Art

Is it just me, or is it a little ART in here?

Art has once again cycled back towards the top of my interest/activity list and in this case, that means trees!  Yay!  Trees are great!

My friends like my trees!

Nobody buys them.

Yes, I’ve heard all the things about how one should do what one loves and all that and so maybe it’s just fine that I do these trees and people like them on FaceBook but they’re not worth my time to vectorize.

That kind of positivism is for people without childcare costs.

Which means taking a more critical look at What Sells As Art, and there is really glaringly one thing that my stark trees lack … a place to stand.  They just sort of float there, black in the emptiness of white.  To be sure, they have a penstroke of grass, but that’s not much at all.

So, now what?

Now I guess I need to figure out how to put trees in context, I mean landscapes.

The sticky wicket is how to do it without making it impossible to clean up and make big enough to print on things, but maybe I can figure that out later.  I mean, I focus on Print on Demand (which pushes for many-pixels) because taxes scare the crap out of me but eventually originals are a thing, right?

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Mandala Doodle Round-Down

To everything there is a cycle

One of the things I’ve observed about myself over the years is that I go through cycles with just about everything – try something new, get really excited about it, do it a lot, and then drift away again (usually because I’m trying something new).

Sometimes (ok, ok, often) it’s because I hit a plateau … I reach the end of New Thing Energy and discover that my skills just aren’t as good as I want to achieve what I want with the thing or my tools aren’t good enough or something else on the to-do list is on fire and needs to be dealt with.

Occasionally, it’s because something has cycled back around to being inspiring and I’m shifting over to being excited about that and doing it instead.

So long and thanks for all the symmetry

In this particular case, where I’ve drifted away from doing doodle mandalas, it’s a confluence of a few things:

  • I was frustrated with the limitations of the tool I was using (it really was very limited)
  • I had found a better tool for mandalas generally (Illustrator), but it wasn’t good for doodles
  • I started picking up on doing Tree Sketches again
  • The tool I was using got an update that made it even more awkward to use
  • It started to be more work to come up with cool mandala doodles than “relaxing finger wiggling”
  • I started picking up on doing text-based designs again

So, the practical upshot here is that I didn’t get around to putting up any mandala doodles on Twitter in May, won’t in June either, and so the Mandala Doodle Roundups have come to their end (for now).  Maybe they’ll come back around later.

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Tiny Coffee Bean Believes In You

What it says on the tin

One of the things in the animated header image of this blog as I type this currently is “snowclone factory”.  As much as I’ve been doing trees and mandalas for quite a while now, text-based designs still loom large in my sales reports and they’re still a thing I get the sudden inspiration for.

Like Always Be Creating, this was the product of two things floating around in the back of my head and doing a little mashup: the highly popular Little Tato (aka “tiny potato believes in you”) imagememe and, well, coffee.  Because Caffeinate ALL The Things! And because what gets me actually up and moving these days is coffee, not potatoes.

Which is to say, the tiny coffee bean believes in you.

blue background, tiny coffee bean and text "I am a atiny coffee bean and I believe in you. Together we can do the thing.

Tiny Coffee Bean Believes In YOU

This is available on an assortment of products (tshirts! journals! mugs! stickers!) over on RedBubble.

I am also releasing it under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license (CC-BY-NC), meaning you are more than welcome to click through on the image to the full size one and share the hell out of it (with attribution, but not sell it).  My website address is on the image for attribution already, to make it easy. :)

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Mandala Doodle Roundup, May edition

Monday. Mandala. Monkeys.

It is entirely possible that this will be the last of the Mandala Doodle Roundups – the app I’ve been using to doodle these has gotten a whole lot more difficult to use (aka “we want money for the features you’re now used to” and “default save is to our website”), and so I may let that drop off when I run out of doodles.  Fair warning.

On to the doodles!

April 4:

A black radially symmetric design on a white background

April 11:

A black radially symmetric design on a white background

April 18:

A black radially symmetric design on a white background

April 25:

A black radially symmetric design on a white background

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