Sunday, January 24, 2010

Turning Over A New Leaf

Baby steps....I have aspirations of completing a large beautiful watercolor, but I need to practice my technique first before I can commit to something so ambitious. I'm almost afraid to start. First, I'm not sure where to begin and second, I don't want to mess it up. You can't exactly erase watercolors (although there is a technique to fix a mistake - more on that later), or hit the undo button like I'm so used to doing. {Oh, for an undo button on life}

I thought I would cure myself of this fear by having my son do a watercolor with me. Kids just dive in without asking for instructions and they are usually okay with the results. The control freak in me did have to give him a few pointers on how to hold the brush and then started to tell him about mixing colors, but he stopped me. "I know how to do it Mom." I was very impressed that he wanted, and actually knew how, to mix the primary colors to get his secondary colors. He is 5 and this was one of the first lessons he learned before preschool but he's already a pro at video games, I thought he might have forgotten.

We both started by drawing our pictures with a soft lead pencil. I watched him scribble a face on his and I carefully, methodically, outlined a leaf. Baby steps. I squeezed out blue, red and yellow paint for him and told him to wet his brush first then go for it. He was fearless. Not caring if his colors were outside the lines. Not caring if the eyes were too far apart or if the mouth was too big. And it turned out...beautifully.

Mine on the other hand doesn't look bad. But I was so careful to keep within my pencil line. So careful to paint a straight line. I played with the color. Added more water to blend the orange. Used a paper towel to absorb some extra water I had on the red. 

I tried to not to worry that it was not perfect. I am happy with it, as small and clean as it is. But I am going to take my son's lead and paint my next one with a little more abandon.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


I've never heard of mandalas before I started blogging. I came across a few blog sites written by an artist, an art teacher and novices like me. I was fascinated that this was more than just a lovely form of art. The word Mandala is from the classical Indian language of Sanskrit. Loosely translated to mean circle, it has spiritual and ritual significance in Buddhism and Hinduism. They have been used as an aid to meditation and trance induction. It gets even deeper than that...The psychoanalyst Carl Jung saw the mandala as a "representation of the unconscious self"...okay. 

I found my first mandala on one of my favorite blogs, daisy yellow. To me, they were beautiful, therapeutic, and could be extremely creative. You could do them in all types of media, which daisy yellow will show you, but my favorite is with Staedtler pigment liner pens. I experimented, very briefly, with my color pens and liked the outcome but I like the black and whites a little more. 

Mine take on a more floral look. Some are more circular and geometric, while some tell a story within it's framework. Check out Stephanie's Mandala art on her flickr site. She tends to create them when she is angry to release stress and help balance her emotionally. 

Start small, and don't worry if you mess up. I have a few that didn't turn out very well, but with practice it helps train your hand and eye coordination. You are essentially creating as you go and there's something to be said for such simplicity and uncontrived design. Have fun with it and maybe it will help you stay focused and balanced in your life. Who knows, it worked for Carl Jung.