February 14, 2009

Coloring Mandalas

Posted in Art, Art for beginners, Art samples, Beginner's art, Learning art tagged , , , , at 12:08 am by amateur-in-art

I recently purchased a “kit” from Barnes & Noble called “The Art of the Mandala.” It comes with colored pencils, a booklet of the same title, and 80 outlines of mandalas to color. (It does not appear to be listed on their website. I found it with the various kits and boxed sets of things near their bargain books.)


I only (and still) had a very vague notion of mandalas. I knew they were considered “spiritually significant” by some religions, and that they were used for meditation for some religions and beliefs, and especially, I think, in Buddhism. Though this is still all just my general ideas about mandalas. I have yet to read the book that was included with the kit or to learn more about them. I will, though, I’m sure.

When I colored my first mandala (above), I was surprised at the calming effect it had, and how through the process, I discovered that there was more and more detail to the drawing. What, on the surface, looked like a simple drawing, instead, turned out to have many layers and elements.

The next one I did was not symmetrical – it had a dragon’s head on one side and what looked to me to be an eye on the other. I wanted to use red for the dragon, for sure, but wanted something calmer to contrast with it, so I made part of the “frame” around the dragon green and used red for the frame on the other side.


It is interesting to me that on both of these, the “feel” of the piece changes when you change the orientation of the drawing.


In this case, it’s not only the colors that switch, but it seems important as to whether the dragon is facing up, or facing down.

There is probably more significance to these drawings than what I see and understand. As I said, I’ve never really encountered mandalas before, and I don’t know much about their tradition, either.

But I do like the drawings that are in this kit, I liked the experience of filling them in, and coloring mandalas is definitely something I will want to continue to do.

It may be sacrilege (and if so, someone please tell me!) but I’m also thinking that at some point I may cut or tear these up to use as pieces or fragments or backgrounds in some future page or art project. Especially the first one – seems like the patterning there might be good in a background or something. And all of the curlie-ques and ornamentation from the dragon one also might be really cool to use in something.

© amateur-in-art, 2009

P.S. (Mar. 9, 2009) – Check out some great mandalas at Collage Diva’s Soul Journal site – and look for an ATC swap and a contest, too!

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  1. lisa said,

    I really like the contrasting perspectives and the way you chose different colors. I don’t think it’s sacrilege to tear it up at all! The monks spend hours, perhaps even days, making intricate sand mandalas, knowing that in the end they will blow it away or allow it to be blown away as a symbol of impermanence. I feel peaceful just having looked at your mandalas and your description of your process. Thank you so much!

    • Wow! Thank you so much. I, too, thought about the sand mandalas that ultimately are designed to disappear. Thank you so very much for your comments. I’m glad these gave you peace – I’m very humbled.

  2. Dianne said,

    I’ve always believed that coloring is therapeutic! these mandalas are very fun and I think it’s a great idea to use portions of them in other collages…makes it so much more your own!

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