Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Yellow Flamewheel

The brilliant hot colors of the yellow orchid in this mandala reminded me of photographs of the sun's surface. The seething cauldron of thermonuclear fire that is our sun inspired me to create a spiral flame design and incorporate it into the mandala.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cicada Treeflower

This botanical mandala, created from begonia foliage, reminded me of a green sunflower. I was inspired to include the silhouette of a lovely maple tree that I photographed last winter.
Then I noticed that it seemed to be ringed by a series of winged insects, perhaps cicadas. One of the fun aspects of creating mandalas is the serendipity. Like a Rorschach ink blot, fantastic images seem to appear from time to time.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Crows Contemplate the Pleiades

One cold evening last winter I was out admiring the night sky. The air was crystal clear and even the faintest stars were visible. My favorite star cluster, the Pleiades, was brilliant, and appeared as a jewel in the heavens.
Then I heard some rustling in the nearby trees and saw some crows at roost. I wondered if they have any sense of beauty I was witnessing. I know birds are aware of the stars; many use them to navigate. But perhaps I tend to anthropomorphise.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Autumn Butterflies

I love the rich coppery browns in the foliage of this heuchera, as well as the interesting geometric pattern that is unusual in my botanical mandalas.
The colors had an autumnal feel. I decided to draw butterflies and paint them with the colors from the foliage.

Monday, December 13, 2010

African Warrior

Whenever I visit the Smithsonian I always try to go to the National Museum of African Art. It is a wonderful space with huge galleries on three levels, all completely underground.
The collection of sculptures is extensive and many are stunning in their artistry.
I made this drawing from a photograph of a wood carving of an African warrior, and positioned it so the mandala would provide an elegant crown. I designed the frame based on the colorful fabrics of the region.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fern Fantasia

I generally create my botanical mandalas to serve as a canvas to which I add my drawings. But every so often a mandala stands out on its own and needs no embellishment.
I liked the elegant structure of this mandala created using Japanese Painted Ferns. My only artistic contribution was to add jewel elements using the colors of the stem and to edit the outer edges so it would stand out against a black background.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Recently, ravens have moved to our hilltop. They tend to prefer higher elevations, and 1800 feet seems to provide them with a hospitable environment.
I have been observing the crows in our woods for many years. While similar in shape and coloring, the ravens are dramatically different in size, call, and behavior. They are much larger, with a deep throaty call, and rather than flock, they are often in pairs.
With their huge size and obvious intelligence, it is no wonder they play a large part in Native American culture.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Autumn Greenman

A few months ago I did my first greenman mandala. I used leaves that I took from the botanical mandala itself to piece together and create a face. Although it was fun, and I did like the effect, I found the technique did not allow me a range of colors to work with.
To create a leaf man using autumnal colors I had to draw and paint this face from scratch. However, I was able to use only colors that I found in the original mandala to paint the face.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Vernal Equinox

The green of this oval mandala reminded me of spring. In early spring many the low lying shrubs and plants burst into lush foliage while the trees are still bare. The nights are often crystal clear and ablaze with stars. Some of my favorite constellations are high in the evening sky and I included them in this piece.