Mandalas and Doodling 

When I doodle – I draw flower based mandalas – I am not  sure that what I draw can technically be called ‘scribbling absent mindedly’ – the drawings are not perfect designs that use accurate concentric circles or realistic flowers. I started drawing them when I moved up to Edinburgh . I was a bit bored , lonely and wanted to improve my hand eye co-ordination. 

I have included examples of my circle obsession below in the form of doodles and photographs 

That was three years ago – I have been doing some research because I wanted to be more reflective about my rather excessive output. I tend to draw my ‘doodles’ on trains and planes – during stressful family situations and watching thrillers and suspense programs on the TV. In fact I have had to restrict my out put because I was getting repetitive stress pains in my hands 

Below are my research notes : 

Mandalas were first used in therapy by Carl Jung, who found that the act of drawing mandalas had a calming effect on patients while at the same time facilitating psychic integration.

Powerful and centring expression 

Fascination with a circle 

Instrument of self reflection 

Spontaneity with which we create circles 

Drawing a mandala takes you through a multi sensory path of processing 

Colours that you use important and shapes can have meaning 

Personal growth as a cycle 

Analysing patterns in your life as a way to tap into my unconscious self

 use of circular forms for meditation and self-exploration are found in several cultures and religions, such as Native American, Celtic, Aboriginal, and Christian (Olsen & Avital, 1992). 

Mandalas can represent spiritual wholeness and the equilibrium of all cosmic and life forces of our world, symbolizing the totality, including the outer as well as the inner forces 

Students who participated in drawing their own mandalas reported higher self- awareness, unbiased processing, and personal development, supporting the premisethat the mandala can be an effective tool for helping people facilitate greater self- awareness, and moving toward a higher level of psychological well-being.

Click to access v14n6.pdf

These results demonstrate that the circular shape of the mandala serves as an “active ingredient” in mood enhancement (Anastasia Babouchkina and Steven J. Robbins 2015 ) 

Mandala is Sanskrit for magic circle.Used for meditation and contemplative purposes 

Click to access trps-37-02-164.pdf

 Traditionally, mandalas served a spiritual purpose and more recently they have been adopted as an artform 

Karen and Henderson, Robyn (2010) 

A mandala ‘‘expresses the totality of the psyche in all its aspects, including the relationship between man and the whole of nature’’ (Jaffe, 1964. p. 266), and may be regarded as ‘‘an archetypal symbol reflecting the common neuropsychological inheritance of humankind’’ (DiLeo, 1983, p. 13). It also represents ‘‘the center of personality, a kind of central point within the psyche, to which everything is related, by which everything is arranged, and which is itself a source of energy’’ (Jung, 1959, p. 357).

 For Jung and others, mandalas often symbolize the Self, and appear sym- bolically to represent the striving for individuation, wholeness, and psychological integration through the reconciliation and unification of opposites (Arguelles & Arguelles, 1972; Clarke, 1994; Edinger, 1992; Fontana, 1993; Jung, 1959; Moacanin

have found that the construction of mandalas – particularly when drawn spontaneously – may be useful in the individuation process. Indeed, ‘‘the mandala image is not only a symbol of wholeness and healing, but can be actively employed as a means toward that end’’ (Clarke, 1994, p. 139). 

(Chandelier from Lodeve Cathedral France )

Research with infants conducted by Fantz & Miranda (1975) demonstrated that people are born with a desire to look at circles. Kohler (1992) also found that circles are more quickly perceived and recognized as meaningful. Children as young as two years of age draw circles, and by age three children begin assigning meaning to the circular forms they created (Kellog, 1967). Therefore, drawing mandalas taps into a child’s natural affinity for circles.

I was much struck the concepts around the striving for individuation and wholeness – I was amused that my ‘doodling ‘could be an active employment towards improving my wellbeing – I also liked the idea that we have a natural affinity for circles – means I am not as completely bonkers as I thought 


Reboot of my exhibition 

I had to cancel my exhibition in February when my son had a car accident in South Korea- everything went on hold.

However , he is well and has left for the US and his new wife. So I am having my exhibition this month. I decided I wanted to make a splash with the publicity. So I ordered new flyers, postcards and stickers from Vista Print -they arrived yesterday and I am delighted with how bright and colourful they are. This image is a link between my intuitive castles and trees and the work I have been doing recently -which includes  ripping up and layering my mandalas. 

I am excited because the owner of my venue ‘ has arranged for there to be live music – so it will be much more of an event. 

There will be examples of art journals to look at and  I will also be selling some materials for doing your own mixed media work.  

Travel journal Spring / summer 2016 

When I travel I make smash journals adding ephemera and doodles from my journey- we have been very busy since May travelling to Dublin, Plymouth , London and France. 

I didn’t bring any magazines with me on holiday to France to collage with – after about 5 days I was irritated – I realise that I missed that type of switching off from the now – the soft eye choosing , the folding , ripping and cropping – I like the rhythm , the collecting the sorting , then the choosing what will go with what , what will go where in my journal pages. 

 I missed the balancing of colour, texture and space. It doesn’t matter that on a lot of pages I with attach a photograph – I have played , relaxed and chosen what goes on underneath – it is a record of where I was , what was going on around me , art exhibitions visited , maps , tickets , time of day , environment , colour.

 I have been brave in this time and removed fly stickers that appealed from walls and hoardings (of past events of course) to add a another element. They feel different to magazines and leaflets, the paper has aged in the weather , picking up a crusty layer and is brittle to fold and rip.

When I doodle mandalas and rip those up it is similar , I am add texture , another record of my time , but the patterns and and lines don’t tell you where and when , the memories are forgotten , but they are there woven in as I listened to the news, the voices in a coffee shop or Jon’s voice reading to me out loud 

At the moment I am working in a journal made by an Instagram acquaintance Lisa Stockell , she stitched vintage ephemera into the pages with red thread – I have enjoyed working around her pieces. The thread has added a different texture , the vintage text , fabric and layers add a her time , her collecting , sorting , placing on the page . I like the fact that we have both worked in it . I have added tickets and ephemera that are not fixed with glue into her pockets and sleeves.Lisa has been with me this year in Edinburgh, London , Plymouth and France.
Here are some sample  pages 

Digital art with my iPhone Apps in France 

I love the light and architecture in the south of France . The old buildings are so different in texture and colour to my usual environment in Edinburgh. Below are some motifs from around the village where my family has a house. 

The French house is in a small medieval village in the Aveyron. 

I find the windows and doors are great for layering in my iPhone Apps. 

I use Snapseed, Image blender and Reflection. Reflection is designed to reflect images but it has a good range of editing tools and filters. 

1. Photo through an internal window 

Manipulated in Reflection using the ‘chalk’ filter 

Layered in Imageblender with a hand sewn quilt that is also in the same room 

2.This is image is from a village nearby 

A door way near my family house 

Manipulated in Reflection again

The two images layered  in Image blender 

3. A passion fruit flower 

Manipulated in Reflection , Snapseed and Imageblender . 

The French house 

In the 1980’s my parents bought a shell of a house with a view. It has been renovated over the years into a place that the whole family loves. All the time the children were growing up it just had 1 bedroom with a door. Recently we bought the house next door and knocked through to create 2 more bedrooms. 

A few years ago when I was participating in an artist teachers MA,  I bought a net large curtain and carried it around with my taking pictures of it up  at different windows floating in the breeze. 

I walked into one of the new bedrooms to have an afternoon  snooze when this was happening 

The sense of dejavu was palatable – I lay down on the bed and couldn’t sleep because of the constantly changing view – when I did this project  years ago I talked about Deleuze and his haecceities – how one can be in of and part of a moment – how  the sounds, feelings, and sights all come together to make up an experience

I realised this time that the view was not enough – I can’t relay the smells , but I can let you have a feeling of the  noise and movement 

​​when I get back to Scotland 
There is a field of cows out side and that is the reason for the tinkling bells …..


I couldn’t resist layering the image 


In my Edingburgh lower ground and basement flat I can’t  see the sun come up easily without getting dressed and walking down the street.This morning I woke up in in the French house , the birds were singing very loudly and there was a dog barking. I decided to get up and record the sunrise. It was like waiting for a boiling kettle …. I hadn’t realised how many changes the sky could go through. I said to myself , “red sky in the morning”  ….. And now it is pouring with rain. The sky is still pretty in its pink glow. 

The rain is coming in