World on Fire Mandala

Introductory context-setting text here

I’ve been getting more art out the door (ok, on the RedBubble) and so impatient to share it that I’ve been posting about it directly on social media [1] instead of taking the time to write a blog post here and then link to that on social media.

So a bit of catch-up was in order, which got even further delayed by writing a bit of rambling on mandalas and their symbology (both supposedly traditional and my own developing ideas), and of course, because I like to drag out the blog posts a bit so that they’re not quite so bunchy in time.

This is where the world went off the rails

I began working on this mandala in mid-November of 2016, which context I shouldn’t need to set for any of you, at a moment where it seemed like the only thing I could do to move forward was make more art.  My thanks to the person who looked me right in the chat window and told me to shut up and go make more art.  Or something to that effect.

Like a lot of my mandala work, it started with a lot of doodling. And in this case, some of the concepts I talked about in my last post – beginning with the dot at the center and incorporating circles as walls between ‘layers’ (maybe ‘rings’?).  It’s largely built of the same types of design motifs (swoops that become flowers, pointed arches, nested curves) as many of my mandalas.

After my success with the coloring of The Watching Mandala, I wanted to incorporate the same thing, but even more fancy because I like to push my skill boundaries lately.

That’s where it went from a nice design to something I love.

Each ring got colored separately (with a few decorative circles getting colored separately) because layers are a beautiful thing, and then the extra trimmed off the outside.

The word ‘fire’ drifted through her mind, in search of something to connect with

I won’t say that I had a particular end-goal or end-vision for this, until I finished it and then started to cast around mentally for a title.

All that came mind were these Sarah McLachlan lyrics

World is on fire, it’s more than I can handle
Tap into the water, I try to bring my share

And the whole thing coalesced for me around that music.

World on Fire Mandala

You can find it on RedBubble (as is typical) and on Zazzle (which is not).


[1] FaceBook as Ninth Circle Design; Twitter as 9thcircledesign; G+ as Ninth Circle Design. Follow me for blog links, new designs, doodles, and (on Twitter) retweets of better spoken people.

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A Brief Interlude of Mandala Theory

At the center is unity

Back in early November, I fell down a rabbit hole trying to research the origins of mandalas [1] and came across some interesting sites (and bypassed so many more “interesting” ones) which suggested that mandalas [should] start at the center with a single dot/circle (bindu), which represents unity/sperm/ova.

(Seriously, we all knew fertility stuff was at the root of all religious practice, yes/yes? If not, go do some research on your own.  Sex and birth and death, my friends.)

There’s a whole lot that is still … vague because I’m doing Internet Research, but this gels with my vague mental synthesis of modern mandala style, so I decided to start doing this in my own work.

The circles are the walls

The other thing that seemed to be a real thing was the idea that the center is surrounded by a series of walls.  In the traditional Tibetan mandalas, these are square, rather than circular, and each side has a gate (this is a terrible design from a defensive standpoint, but aesthetically is pleasing).

This, too, seemed like a great concept to incorporate into my work.  This also reflects the Jungian ideas of mandalas, as a form of meditation and self-awareness (or something like that).  Circles are popular in modern mandalas, which are the style I’m working towards/with/as a springboard.

The whole is the self

That’s the practical combination for me as an artist of these concepts (and, surely, a kitchen sink of other impressions and concepts): that the mandala is a momentary impression of the self, starting with the self/seed/unity, and each portion of the design within a wall that protects and contains the inner self/selves and ultimately creates the boundary between ourselves and the world.

Which sounds surprisingly like a Real Artist Statement Of Meaning About My Art.

I’m as baffled as anybody else about how that happened from some internet searches and wiggling vectors around on a screen, but there it is.


[1] Seriously, I’m still not finding good stuff on the internet for this and would love links if you have them.  Particularly to things with some solid research behind them, rather than the behindthename equivalents.  Particularly to things which talk about the evolution of mandala styles because WOAH modern stuff looks nothing like Tibetan and then there’s the whole thing about some cross-pollination between the various Tibetan, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and then somehow Christian styles/traditions and there’s an enormous informational gap online and WHY AM I IN THIS RABBIT HOLE AGAIN.

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End of Year Mandala Challenge

And then I got boredstressed…

2016, amirite?  Especially the last couple months?

In the middle of December, I took up doodling mandalas again to cut down on stress.  And posting them to Twitter, like I do sometimes.

After a couple days, I gave myself a challenge, to post one every day through the end of the year.  For some, I used the hashtag #DailyDoodle and ended up getting followed by @_DailyDoodle, so that was a thing.

Today is the last day of the year and I have won my challenge.  Go me.

And since I don’t want to keep all the fun just for Twitter followers (fwiw, @9thcircledesign is the handle to follow), that means it’s time for a …

Mandala Doodle Roundup

Dec 14:

Twitter 2016-12-14Dec 15:

Twitter 2016-12-15Dec 16:

Twitter 2016-12-16

Dec 17:

Twitter 2016-12-17

Dec 18: No, I don’t know why there are weird fish tails.

Twitter 2016-12-18Dec 19:

Twitter 2016-12-19

Dec 20: Not all doodles are *good*.

Twitter 2016-12-20Dec 21: One week and ticking onward, only a week and a half to go …

Twitter 2016-12-21Dec 22: I’m not sure why there had to be a bird in each tree. Doodles are weird.

Twitter 2016-12-22Dec 23: Another day, another doodle …

Twitter 2016-12-23Dec 24: For unknown reasons, there needed to be extra colors today.

Twitter 2016-12-24Dec 25: Stay on target, one more week to meet the daily doodle challenge.

Twitter 2016-12-25Dec 26: Simple #DailyDoodle today, I’m travelling.

Twitter 2016-12-26Dec 27: Playing with different backgrounds …

Twitter 2016-12-27Dec 28: IS THIS BRIGHT ENOUGH?

Twitter 2016-12-28

Dec 29: Happy random winter evening!

Twitter 2016-12-29Dec 30: Only two more days to make it to the end of the year with a #Mandala #DailyDoodle

Twitter 2016-12-30Dec 31: Last #Mandala #DailyDoodle of the year … will I continue into the next year? Maybe.

Twitter 2016-21-31

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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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