Migraine mandalas

I get hemiplegic migraines ( which I am sure I must have mentioned in an earlier post) they are exacerbated by flashing lights and hormones. Most of the time they are under control with a very small dose of antidepressants. However, menopause and my irritable bowel has been fun!!! Sometimes, the migraines are brought on by flashing lights – sometimes food (if I am being sensitive). This latest episode was self inflicted really – reading a book and drawing mandalas in 4 hrs of flickering light on a car journey -was asking for trouble. 

I decided to have a go at working through my frustration and anger at my self , after several  reared their ugly heads , consecutive evenings. 

I am staying at my Dad’s house in the south of France with only my travel kit. I painted  loose ovals on lots of sheets of heavy duty cartridge paper with  very diluted acrylic. Then added swirls of neocolours, oil pastels and more paint- it’s warm and arrid here so everything dries very quickly. 


I wanted to continue working with my paper dolls. I tried a design where a female shape is curled up in painholding her head but it ended up looking like white splodges in some sort of fiery constellation. 

A head screaming (below) just looked weird( lol) and didn’t convey what I wanted to express- I like the colours , textures and patterns , so they became backgrounds. 


I needed some figures that worked in circles so I searched on line and came up with an ancient artifact from Mexico 


Practicing blind contour faces in pain ( really getting into the details 😂😂😂😂) 


The above design uses an African figurine as motif but even though it made a lovely mandala in the centre with its arms and legs I didn’t like the proportions of the head and neck. 


Nice uncomfortable screaming baby type figures are amusing me now my head is better and I like the nightmarish qualities – there is an other worldly feeling and out of body experience that I seem to have captured too , which sums up my aura stage quite nicely. Though if I think about it -I don’t experience all that colour 

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Meditation inspired art making – Portugal 

One of the things I have enjoyed at the Omassim guest house is the daily meditation sessions. There has been a variety of different approaches to meditation on offer – an energy bath, candle and eye gazing and chanting. These sessions have inspired me to make art around the ideas explored – I had great fun making my paper dolls in meditation poses. 

Above are a few designs from the energy bath session. I had brought some backgrounds ready prepared with me – where I used pink ink sprayed through a doily. I used a mixture of pen and ink mandalas, neocolours and oil pastel to create the other effects. 

We chanted about the elements. (I wandered into the village one morning and found a shop selling primary coloured papers and oil pastels. These new supplies lent themselves very well to more paper doll mandalas) 


Then I had a very strange experience meditating looking into Jon’s left eye. It felt like everything else fell away except his eye. I got annoyed when he blinked because it broke the sensation. It felt like I didn’t know him at all and that the whole universe was some how available in his murky green eye. ( he he he) 

More Movement Medicine dancers this time in Orange 

Over the past 6 months I have made so many different mandalas that sometimes I don’t know what to do with them. I had been wanting to work with my movement medicine dancing ladies some more. So yesterday I made loads of cut out dolls. 

I was very amused about 30 minutes in,  that I needed to make the images stand out more – the colours were too samey or the patterned mandalas meant that the dancers got lost on the similar coloured backgrounds. 

An orange frenzy ensued which was very therapeutic and got my creative juices going. I had thought I was a bit stuck because I hadn’t danced for a week. 


I made some smaller templates so that I can cut circles of joined dancers – the idea of them all being connected appeals. Catherine ( http://catherinewright.co.uk/workshops/) mentioned us all being joined by a gold thread last session – but I can’t quite get my head around how that would fit visually within this work  – there is so much colour and pattern going on- they feel more like a  ‘5 Rhythms’  Chaos session (https://www.5rhythms.com/). I think I must have had Matisse’a ‘The dance’ going on somewhere in my head too 


https://www.hermitagemuseum.org/wps/portal/hermitage/digital-collection/01.+Paintings/28411/?lng=


I love complimentary colours and the circles of dancers fit in with my mandalas – it’s all a bit bonkers colourwise – I enjoyed scrawling in blue oil pastel over the finished collages , but I think some of the more simple ones are very effective.


I produced some single dancers for some A5 pieces I had in my stash – I think maybe I should draw these figures individually. 

Messing about with mandala process – tea staining and layers 

Since boiling our journals a few weeks ago with tea and rusty metal .  I have had great fun messing about with my mandala process  – playing with permanent and water soluble pens and layering with tea, gesso and gel medium 

I have joined a woman’s circle in Edinburgh. One of the aims is to get us to move more and get in touch with our inner self . Staining and layering my mandalas is part of this process. I am still sitting still to draw but , an getting up, making tea , steeping , drying and making bigger marks. This feels  more intuiative and freeing something that was tight. 

I love teal and turquoise, the only pens I have these colour are water soluble. I can’t boil these designs but dipping them in a tea / rust mixture adds a lovely transparency to the marks . The designs are more effective when drawn  on printing paper and drawing on both sides. I like the lack of control and the inability to predict exactly what the final product will look like. 


I wanted to see if I could stop the ink running in some areas so I  added swirls of white gesso and gel medium.


I have been adding all sorts of other materials to add interest and water resistance  – gelatos, stabilo pencils , oil pastels and wax crayons. 


The gelmedium protects the ink but it still runs a bit , the gesso is more effective but is harder to work on top of afterwards with the pens. 

Today I started adding gold pen and paint for fun – but I like the contrast and texture that it adds. I also added thin acrylic paint through stencils which was more effective at protecting the water soluble pen as a technique 

Everything isn’t always successful but I am loving the process


On the one above I rubbed off the gelmedium and gesso and drew on top with a blue pen 


A selection of designs showing different experiments. Stencils , painting acrylic paint and an over worked piece showing gold paint. 

One of the objects I make with my mandalas are pamphlet stitch journals. The flower journals below are ripped to make soft stacked edges . I boiled the top one in tea again after I made it with a strip  of rusty metal I found in the road . This added the dark colour at the centre.