That sounds a bit like a B movie title, doesn’t it? But, no, it’s about my journey into understanding and working with this particular art form.
It all began as I became more curious about spirituality and the nature of the soul. I was raised in the Baptist church, and my questioning up to that point had been limited to finding which aspects of Christianity I resonated with and which didn’t fit. So, Joseph Campbell books in hand, I broadened my quest to encompass other theologies and, perhaps more importantly, basic spiritual concepts across cultures and time.
At the time, I had been working for some decades in Advertising and Marketing. It wasn’t quite the work I had dreamt of in my art school days or as a holder of a degree in Psychology, but it paid the bills. In my final job, I created some lovely starbursts for a project and became fascinated by that process ~ not only in the ethereal quality of the bursts, but with the precise, gentle, mathematical placement of the glowing soft lines creating the circle.
When that job ended, I began playing with shapes and lines on my own. After creating a few pretty images, I showed them to some friends. One mentioned that they were mandalas. I vaguely remembered having heard or read the term before, but I had no idea exactly what a mandala was. Not wanting to appear wanting, I nodded in agreement. The moment I was able, I rushed to research what that was and what was meant by that word, mandala. The results fascinated me and dovetailed into my personal spiritual quest.
Mandala is a Sanskrit word literally meaning “circle”. However, subtle nuances of the language, as I understand it, also open the definition to include everything from the basic circle to the vastness of all creation.
The circle form has been used as a common symbol since the beginning of humanity. Cave drawings show reference to circular forms thought to be reminiscent of the sun. The pyramids, whether in Egypt or the Americas, all have circular symbols resonant in their construction and decorative motifs. While researchers believe that Stonehenge was constructed around, and to understand, astronomical events, it is also a glorious mandala of stone. The Aztec and Mayan calendars are excellent examples of mandalas. It would appear the circle has always been a reference point for humans in understanding the vast nature of existence.
Nature itself is replete with rich and glorious mandala shapes. Flowers, trees, bushes all appear as vivid reminders of our connection to all that is and to that circular form. The very shape of our planet, the moon, and the sun are circular, although irregular. It is my understanding that the natural world is created according to pure geometric formulas and principles such as the Golden Mean. The recognition of nature’s use of the circle may have inspired its use throughout time.
Perhaps the most culturally familiar of today’s mandalas are the beautiful Hindu enameled mandalas found throughout India and beyond. Even the mehndi hand paintings echo mandala forms. Or maybe the glorious sand mandalas meticulously created by Buddhist monks over several days then destroyed as an example of life’s impermanence are more recognizable. Of course, Christian churches also use mandalas in their worship, although they’re not called mandalas. My own childhood church had the most beautiful stained glass rose window, simply glowing with color and design. Carl Jung, early psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology, was fascinated by mandalas as a metaphor of our individual and societal psyches. He even became something of a mandala artist himself.
Mandalas in one form or another seem to be resonant throughout all societies. Because they are so present in our lives, I believe they deserve recognition and attention. They are used cross culturally as tools for prayer, meditation, and contemplation, as well as simple graphic forms of beauty. Once I recognized the near omnipresence of the mandala form, I found myself noticing all the circular forms surrounding my daily life.
As I researched and learned about mandalas, I developed a deeper connection to the work I had been creating. These mandalas were helping me understand myself, my place in the world, and the world itself. Creatively mandalas were now a constant presence.
My mandalas are rather unique. I use Adobe Illustrator to create brush strokes, then, in Adobe Photoshop, I isolate one stroke and place it in the center of the canvas. That stroke is copied and rotated repeatedly using simple geometry. The layer created by this repetition is copied and flipped horizontally, producing an initial mandala shape. I then attach the next stroke to one of the previous strokes and repeat the process continuously until a base frame is formed. With this foundational form, I’m free to place colors in the voids. Then the background and bursts are added, finalizing the image.
The result is a mandala with a certain resonance in the past, but holding a purely modern feeling. While there are many mandalas created daily around the world, thus far I’ve been unable to find anyone else using my particular technique. My conclusion is that my work is remarkably rare.
As with all artists, I use every aspect of my being as fodder for my work. Reiki is a form of energy healing which includes the use of long distance healing techniques. The practitioner uses focus and intention to connect with an individual to remotely affect healing and well-being.
I am a Reiki master teacher, but in my work, I’ve altered the application of this technique a bit. I have two specific types of mandalas in which I intentionally use my Reiki training. In the Spiritual Energy series of mandalas I focus on a spiritual principle with the intention of connecting to the resonance of that energy and representing it in the mandala form. The energy exchange becomes cyclical, with the resonance of the spiritual principle guiding every stroke, rotation, color choice, and movement in the mandala. The result is, hopefully, an image that invokes the feel and energy of that principle.
Spiritual Energy of the World Wide Web
I also create Personal Soul mandalas, which are essentially portraits of an individual’s soul energy. The Spiritual Energy series is available to the public. The Personal Soul mandalas are commissioned works and owned by each of the individual clients. They are not available for purchase by the public.
Soul of Sarah Davis
As much as I love mandalas and creating them, they are by no means the only type of artwork I produce. Over time, I’ve developed a line of inspirational greeting cards. I’m also a fiber artist and have a number of sculptures I’m developing. I would love to learn how to create in stained glass. Wouldn’t my mandalas look beautiful as stained glass windows? Texture and shape have always piqued my creative interests. As you can see, that interest translates into many areas of expression.
Please visit my website for more information and to see a range of my work. Thank you for taking time to consider my mandalas!