Quotes for Artists

Hair Dryer

“Gratitude for the abundance you have received is the best insurance that the abundance will continue.”  Unknown



How to Read a Mandala

My Mandalamandala_mosaic

In this post I will show you how to easily read your mandala.  There are many tutorials online showing how to create a mandala with a template.  I prefer to draw from my heart to give a mandala that shows a true reflection of me at the time.  Here goes….

My magic circle a on the left and on the right a mosaic of mandalas done by children.  How amazing they are!  Please read my previous post titled  Tutorial 5 “What is Magic About a Circle” to find out how to prepare a magic circle.

Every piece of art you make is a portrait of your soul; in fact, all art is actually a mandala.

As you will read below, your “magic circle” can be read through the story of the image, focus, composition, value, colour and texture.  The colours are also an invaluable guide to the mandalas message, for example:

  • Red indicates groundedness, passion and vitality
  • Orange denotes creativity, personal power, emotions
  • Yellow indicates consciousness and awareness
  • Green indicates growth, nurturing, opening
  • Violet is your intuitive wisdom
  • Blue shows expression and willpower
  • White is light, completion and oneness

I will describe as follows how I read my own magic circle by looking at the image.  My own answers are in italics.

  • Story – What is your first impression, does it suggest something? I see swirling thoughts and something moving forward.
  • Focus – Is there one?  Is it clear?  The focus seems to be in the centre of the circle.  There are no definite forms.
  • Composition – Are there strong lines in one direction such as diagonals, verticals or horizontals?  Are there any shapes present?  I see curvo-linear shapes suggesting peacefulness and harmony.
  • Values – Are the colours dark or light?  Are there a range of different tones?   There are different tones throughout the piece, some lights, some darks and some mid tones.
  • Colour – Are the main colours warm or cool?  Are only two colours used?  Are the colours similar to each other?   Perhaps they are opposites on the colour wheel (complimentary) or primary colours only.  There are warm colours in the circle, red indicating groundedness, passion and vitality.  The yellow indicates consciousness and awareness.  The circle seems to be coming forward from expression and willpower (Blue).
  • Texture – What kinds of marks have been made?  Are they deliberate or even?  Is there a change in stroke anywhere?  There are no changes of stroke, one line only indicating continuity and flow.

Interpretation of my mandala:

Within the circle my passion, creativity, emotions and personal power are displayed.  These are indicated by the colours yellow, red and orange.  I am conscious of them in a passive way according to the composition (peacefulness and harmony – keep the peace at all costs), texture (continuity and flow of line – no bucking the system here) and focus (no definite forms – easy come, easy go.)

I have become more aware (yellow) of my passivity lately and, by using my willpower (blue) have expressed my passion, creativity, emotions and personal power (red, yellow, orange.)     They are coming forward showing expression (blue.)

I actually expressed myself in a relationship in a most vulnerable way recently, something I have not done before.  I allowed myself to be seen in all my complexities and contradictions.  This was a turning point in my life.   My mandala was so accurate!

Childrens’ mandala mosaic photo courtesy of pipodoll.blogspot.com.au

What is Magical About a Mandala?

Julie's Mandala

Copyright Julie Marsh 2013

The Mandala or “Magic Circle” is a great way to begin working abstractly because it is so simple.

The magic circle represents the universe and is usually enclosed in a square with deities in each corner although these are not necessary.

Mandalas are believed to have healing powers because they are a way of bringing consciousness to the surface in a concrete form.  They can be read just like a dream.  Mandalas bring forth our hidden shadow side because we draw on the great store of visual imagery held in our collective consciousness.

Mandalas create a safe place to depict anger, pain, show violent tendencies or even express grief or regret.  They are very powerful.

Mandalas never lie; they show us how special we are and prove that we know a lot more than we think.   Being mindful in the process is an important part of the power of the mandala.

This mandala is that I call a “Free Association Mandala” after Sigmund Freud.  As I am sure you know Freud had his patients lie on his couch and babble whatever they felt inclined.  This mandala is the same process only you are babbling with crayon!

There are many online tutorials using templates to create a mandala, however, I prefer to draw from my heart to give a mandala that shows a true reflection of me at this time.  Here goes….


  • Set aside 20 minutes and find a quiet place to work.  Give thanks to your materials before you start and spend a few minutes in quiet time.


  • On a piece of good quality paper (you might want to frame it you know!) and using your non-dominant hand, draw any shapes that feel right to you.  They can be circles, squares, ovals or a triangles.  Ideally, the shapes are not something identifiable.  Do not try to create anything, focus purely on the pleasure of drawing and relaxing in a safe space.  Try not to become distracted from your artwork.


  • You may use your dominant hand to colour in the shapes and continue from here on. Use markers, oil crayons, pastels or coloured pencils to fill in the shapes however you want using abstract form only.  That means no people, characters, houses, animals etc. The lovely mandala above was done with oil crayons and a watercolour wash was put over it at the end.  This allowed random marks that revealed the artist’s love of the ocean.


  •  Allow your mark-making to flow freely over the page with careless abandon.  There are no rules or restrictions to colours or shapes but leave some white of the paper to allow the watercolour wash to do its magic.


  • When you have finished, mix up a watery wash of your favourite watercolour.  Float the colour all over the mandala with a large square brush in horizontal strokes from the top.  Put the strokes down and leave them, the watercolour will do the rest.  Do not be too precious about this, it all comes out in the wash so to speak.


  • The work is now finished, accept it for what it is then leave it.


  • Show gratitude and appreciation for your workspace and your materials when you have finished.

This is rather like Sigmund Freud with his method of free association.  Freud would have his patients lie on the couch where he allowed them to babble and waffle on about anything and everything.  Freud was able to tell a lot about the unconscious mind of his patients this way.  In essence, this is what you will be doing when you create a magic circle, you are babbling and waffling in a visual way with a crayon or whatever.  Just like Freud you will be able to tell a lot about what is hidden from your consciousness.

The mandala can then be read according to the 6 principles of visual harmony – story, focus, composition, tonal values, colour and texture.

Here is a picture of my mandala….

My Mandala

Find out how to read your mandala in my earlier post.

Courage – Daily Therapy for Artists


“Success is dangerous.  One begins to copy oneself, and to copy oneself is more dangerous than to copy others.  It leads to sterility.” Picasso

Do You Have a Reason to Create the Mysterious and New?

Deportment and Grooming

The audience, viewer, reader, listener is nothing but a child in front of a new toy.  And like a child, he begs to know what’s inside the toy, what makes it walk when you turn the key in the back, what makes it fly, what makes it tick.  Like children, we continue to look for new things that will puzzle us with another mystery. We usually are intrigued by something that we think will be better than what we have known in the past or are experiencing in the present.   We dream of the notion that this new toy will appease our eternal quest for perfection or for an ideal.

As we grow older, there remains less to discover.  Many secrets of our toys have been discovered.  We all have a divine spark in our nature and we are not comfortable to rest in the knowledge of things that have become clear to us.  We, like children continue to search for another mystery.  We are continuously looking for the answers to the question “why”.  In essence, we are all searching for a better life.

Consequently, as an artist, writer, musician, photographer or other creative, you must present your creation in such bright colours  that life appears so beautiful and alluring, so unlike the one actually being experienced by the audience, a mysterious new toy so to speak.


Before you next start to work on a project try asking yourself the following questions:

  • Will your viewer, reader, listener, participant be fascinated with your work?
  • Does he want to stay, look, listen or read a little longer?
  • Does your work reveal a world brighter and better than he is currently experiencing?
  • Does your viewer, participant, reader or listener think of it after he has gone?
  • Will he tell at least one other person about the experience you have given him?

If you answer in the positive to all these questions you will stand out from the rest.  If not, you may need to reconsider your concept – how you think about it, how you research it, apply it and feel about it. Sometimes, the mere unpredictability of the outcome makes it work.

Photograph courtesy of organisational storytellers, onethousandandone.com

Acting: The First Six Lessons by Richard Boleslavsky 2010 Published by Routledge

Search for Form, Variations on a Theme – Three Easy Exercises

variations-on-a-theme-005 (1)variations-on-a-theme-006

Today I will tell you about three amazing exercises in seeing which have helped me so much.  They are a piece of cake to do and won’t take too long.  You will need to be consistent with your daily seeing though.  These exercises are most beneficial.

Exercise 1

Choose a picture you either really like or really dislike.  Look at the picture, put it aside and roughly sketch the details you saw in that picture.  Look at the picture again the next day to see what you missed and quickly sketch it again.  Do this for 5 days and compare what you noticed on day 1 compared to your complete visual understanding of the photo on day 5.

Look at and roughly sketch your bedroom over different 5 days and you will be surprised at how you did not know it.  This is why the great masters did so many paintings and studies of one subject before commencing their masterpieces. They searched for a complete visual understanding.

Exercise 2

Look at a picture in a book and “project” it onto the wall in your mind’s eye.  Really see it on the wall mentally, do not just remember it. Try to establish the frame and picture. When you can project a picture with one hundred per cent belief, you have the eye of an artist.  If your concentration is a little off, (you may be stressed or tired) you will only remember the picture in your mind, you will not see it projected on to the wall.

With enough practice you will be able to visualize your subject as you paint/draw it rather than copying from a photograph.  I have yet to master this and am still working on it with some difficulty.  Let’s say it’s a goal for me.

Exercise 3

  • Select a photograph which resonates immediately with you. Magazines are good.  You can either really like the photo or really dislike it.  Both are fertile ground for an artwork.
  • Create your first drawing.  In most cases, this drawing will be quite realistic.
  • Put the photograph away and use the first drawing as a reference for the second. To make it interesting, try using different mediums or mixing media in the subsequent drawings.
  • Put the first drawing away and use the second drawing as a reference.  You will notice the form becoming more simplified and this usually turns out to be a good thing if you are into abstraction.
  • You can take this as far as you like by drawing from a previous drawing until the subject becomes a mere essence of the original.  This is a lot of fun when you compare your first drawing with your last one. The final form will depend entirely on the original photo and the drawings that preceded it.
  • Once your drawing has become completely abstracted, you can use your imagination to create something completely different from the original.  Look with your trained eye, what shapes do you see?

The photo above is an illustration of this exercise is from the book “Learn to Draw” by Robert Kaupelis.

More freedom, creativity and spontaneity?

Jessica Le Rock

You have been inspired, have completed your pencil and watercolor studies and have decided on your support, materials and colors   It is helpful and essential for you to intend that everything about this piece will work and you will be over the moon with the end result.

And that is where you need to stop right there!

It requires confidence to believe in yourself to the extent that you release all attachment to this imagined outcome.  Why you ask?

Attachment to the outcome smacks of fear and insecurity.  When you are attached and trying to control everything, your concept gets locked into your rigid mindset and you lose freedom, creativity and spontaneity.

To be uncertain provides a fertile space for pure creativity. When you are attached to the outcome, you are attached to something you have known before and there is no evolution in that, only stagnation.  The unknown is a place of countless possibilities.  Without this lovely unknown space, life is just a series of old repetitive stale memories. And, as a true artist, don’t you want to create something intelligent and unorthodox that nobody has seen before?

With this lovely Zen practice you will be in no man’s land for a while when the momentum of your old controlling thoughts stops and uncertainty begins.  You are, in effect, concentrating purely on the work in the present moment, the past and future do not exist.  You are bravely and confidently being mindful and stepping into the unknown.

Leave your controlling mind at the door, and then you will find magic.