My mandala history 

For the last couple of years creating mandalas type images has become a bit of an obsession. I was drawn to them initially because I liked the patterns and the circular design. They became part of my daily practice to improve my hand eye co-ordination.

Above is a mandala from early 2014  

I played with the elements incorporating architectural details from places I lived in and visited. Ceramic motifs became important after a commission where a client wanted me to use her mother’s collection of pottery and art as source material.


Incorporating architectural motifs from Edinburgh 

Ceramic motifs and French thistles 

Lately I have used them to hide. I have just been sorting through some art journals to take as examples for a class this afternoon and I am shocked by the rawness and emotion contained in some of the pages. My mandalas in comparison have developed a surface beauty that is intricate and detailed. The lines of my pen look flat and emotionless in comparison.

Journal pages 

 Emotionally we have had a difficult year, my son was involved in a road accident in Korea in February. There followed months of recovery and my body rebelled to the levels of stress I was subjected to. The mandalas have kept me sane but also been a trap. To get better I need to move, to walk and get fresh air. All I have wanted to do is sit on the sofa and draw. 

Images Jon took for a drawing I wanted to do 

The mandalas use the same repetitive elements but I have striven to produce slight differences in each one. If I travel away for a weekend or holiday, elements from my journey creep in and over time there has been a gradual change in the designs, to the extent that I decided to catalogue them.

I have bursts of difference and rebellion from the simple shapes, changing the size from A6 to A4, changing the colour of my pen or colouring in with oil based markers or paint – to be honest these are all from my 2014 sketch book (lol!) 
A counseling training course over two weekends caused me to rip up large numbers of the mandalas and make A1 collages, one of which I have been unable to finish.

Unfinished collage – shoe for size

As the time since the course grows longer and I find my self slipping back into old habits.

Last nights offerings

 I have always wanted to make artists dolls. Christmas was coming up and I had a flurry of activity recycling card, cutting and painting limbs. The dolls ended up in an envelope, as I felt overpowered by the fear of the unknown. 10’s of copies in 3 different sizes have been finished, their bodies covered in mandala type motifs and patterns. Their joints move as they dance to wards the festive season as angels with wings.

About a third of them ‘laugh out loud’  again!!! 


7 thoughts on “My mandala history 

  1. Dear Tess, I enjoyed your blog as I always do. I’m amazed at how your pour your thoughts and emotions into your mandalas and how easily your write about it all on your blog! I do my art with no thought other than to achieve a product I enjoy seeing – no deep thoughts with my work, ha ha! Anyway, I adore your mandalas and how you can do so many for long hours. I hope you’ll never tear up another, as I’d love to have any you no longer want – you have my address, lol!! I hope things with your son have evened out and I wish you peace within your soul and a happy end-of-Year. Take care Tess 🙂
    ~Barbara Hauenstein in California in the U.S.

  2. As ever, I love seeing what you do, but here I can see the possibilities of moving out of flowers and into architectural or people doodles. Wonderful. I am forever indebted to you. And how lucky am I!!

  3. I’m glad to have found your blog. I love that torn up collage (with shoe for size) (–I think that should be part of the installation in the gallery! 🙂

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