A Challenger Has Appeared

A challenger (for my art time) has appeared!

I posted a while ago about trying a new media (in Always Be Pushing Your Art Boundaries) with some new techniques at one of those paint-and-booze places, and that was pretty successful.  I then went back later with a friend and did another painting there, and tried a few extra ideas picked up from watching Bob Ross and they

Side note: Did you know that Bob Ross episodes are streamed regularly on twitch.tv?  I did!  It’s soothing to listen to and kinda fascinating to watch!

So, I picked up the next $5 set of assorted acrylic paints and some brushes and pulled out some of the stack of 8×10 canvasses.  After all, it’s so easy when a professional like Bob does it, surely I can!

About that conviction that I can teach myself anything …

It’s not totally unwarranted, though that doesn’t mean I’ll be good at it any time soon.

On the other hand, I’ve been hearing lately that the whole Ten Thousand Hours thing isn’t necessarily the be-all-end-all of learning, because that’s to mastery, which isn’t what we need or want to do with everything. To get basic competency is only about twenty hours, if the Internet isn’t misleading me.

Side note: as usual, that’s hours of mindful practice, not just a few minutes here and there of dicking around.

I’m getting closer to twenty hours of work on doing backgrounds!  I have figured out that watering down the acrylics for smoother coverage is a legit thing!  I am getting a little better at this blending thing for skies!  I have spent another $50+ on more paint and brushes!

However, I am still having a heck of a time with line thickness.  This is, as you might guess, kind of critical for painting trees.

So, instead I’ll share this photo of one of my first paintings, in which I tried to reproduce from a thumbnail a paint-and-booze take on Manet:

a painted scene of a pond with water lillies and pads in blues, greens, and reds.

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To Bigotry No Sanction

And so the wheel turns again

I’ve mentioned before that my focus goes in cycles.  I seem to have cycled back to both trees and text-based designs at the same time, which gives me something completely different to do when I need to take a step back from a piece to come at it fresh later.

The trees aren’t ready to post quite yet (for one, I’ve been working in physical media which requires time to take photos), but I do have a text-based design that I think is fairly timely.

To bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance

Recently a friend shared on social media the text of a letter from George Washington in 1790 to the Hebrew Congregations of Newport, and a part of it poked me right in the brain (it is, assuredly a not infrequently quoted piece of his).

The paragraph goes like this:  “It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.”

In these times, this sentiment of giving no sanction to bigotry nor assistance to persecution seems particularly relevant. Thus this design:

Black text on white background: To Bigotry No Sanction, To Persecution No Assistance

This design available on RedBubble (and in white on dark) and on Zazzle (and in white on dark, as a button, on a mug, on a totebag because Zazzle is being stupid about showing all the products on a single page for Ineffable Reasons).

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Sunset on the Rockies Mandala

On going back and going on

At the beginning of December, I traveled out to the Denver metro area to visit with my grandparents and some good friends (though not as many as I always would want to see).  It was cold and brisk and dry and I both had missed it all and not missed it all (brrrrr).

It struck me particularly hard this trip that I hadn’t been back in nearly 7 years and that, for me, everyone else there is still stuck in 7 years ago but that seven years is a long long time and time doesn’t actually stop for them either.   So, it now would be as strange to move back as it was to move here; all one can do is keep going on.

The castles built in memory fall not into ruin

I was also reminded that I miss places nearly as much as I miss people, and I’ve missed the tall mountains by my side as I drive up and down the freeway.  I miss the crispness of the air.  I miss uncrowded roads (and oh, I miss having enough lanes).  I miss the familiarity of the routes I have driven so many times.

Not long after starting what would become the World on Fire Mandala, I started a new design on some of the same principles with a spiky heart surrounded by lotus petals, some wire twisted around itself, all within sharp peaks pointing out.

It wasn’t until I put in the orange fading to dark deep red that I realized I was recreating memories of sunsets in the Rockies, where the shadows fall on the high desert foothills while the peaks are lit up.

Sunset on the Rockies Mandala

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

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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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