Day 4 - Watercolor Mandalas

Day 4 of "Every Day in May"
Progress on 2 watercolor mandalas.


Anonymous said...


I must confess that I’m an agnostic when it comes to Mandalas. I think most people are; and not without reason. People have to get up early and go to work, their kids need shoes, and they need new tires for their cars. When they slow down to take in a piece of art they’re not always patient. I think a Mandala (like a Rauschenberg, or a Frankenthaler) requires some patience.

What draws me to your paintings is the care you put into them; they’re lovely (I especially like this new stuff you got here). But I’m also drawn to them by your spirit. What I mean by that is everything I know about you – your very cool family (including your mom, your husband and your kids), the way you and your sisters, whenever you’re together, throw back your heads and laugh; and the very fact that there is out there in cyberspace a “Very Pretty Blog” that’s so influenced by this one.

Nevertheless, in spite of your talent, your conviction, your sense of humor and your mom’s cooking I approach a Mandala with a certain amount of skepticism. Where is the power in it? Is it in the circle, and the complex and colorful geometric (as well as organic) shapes within? Or is this just a symbol that refers to something beyond it (the way the name “Nelson Mandela” refers to an old black man with a big smile living in South Africa)? Is it more than paper, paint and product? Is there something you’re groping after that’s even beyond the idea that gave form to this symbol?

Is it blasphemous to ask you these things? Am I being too intellectual? I don’t think it’s crazy or obsessive to try to understand the stuff we receive through intuition. For me it’s part and parcel of the process of making art. What I’m talking about here is nothing more than giving form (be it in words or image) to a feeling. After reading your entry of “A Thousand Words”, I decided that you too are trying to figure this stuff out. We have this idea that thought, feeling, intuition and spirit are distinct and separate parts of our psyche and always must remain separate. But they’re separated only in our heads; in our everyday experience, when we’re “living in the moment”, they function as one.

Some people say that “reality is idea”. Hegel thought so. Marx liked Hegel, but he didn’t like that. Of course no one in this country cares for Marx (Carl that is, Americans actually do like Groucho a lot), so rather than talk about him I’ll tell you about this interview I read with a German artist. This guy claimed that when he painted a woman that there was something about his painting that made it somehow more special than the actual woman. For years I saved that news clipping so I’d never forget his arrogance. How could he think that he’d adequately captured her on his canvas? How could he think his senses could take in all that she was? How could he think his heart and his mind could adequately represent her? He wasn’t that good. He’s not God. If you had to kill an entire year spending time with either this guy’s painting or his model, who wouldn’t rather spend time talking with her, than staring at a lousy picture? Of course there are some who would choose the painting over the model. They’re the ones Marcel Duchamp was thinking of when he said, “I hate art, but I love artists”.

Though I’m an agnostic, that doesn’t mean I don’t have faith. I like that you take your art seriously. I can feel the integrity in your work. You give me the sense that you’re on to something. In a sense, your faith gives me faith.

I tell people that my favorite artist in any medium is Muriel Rukeyser. I got turned on to her when the magazine “The Nation” did a review or the 50 year anniversary issue of her book, “The Life of Poetry”. It’s not a book of poetry; it’s more like a book length artist’s statement. In 1948 when she was writing it she was a 35-year-old single mom. Unlike most women at the time, she was confident and thoroughly engaged with the world. In fact as I read the book I couldn’t imagine anyone who knew more about life in the 20th Century and what we needed to do to come together as a community than Muriel. She believed, and she made me believe, that poetry and art could save the world.

Muriel often referred to poems as “meeting places”. Would you say a Mandala is a kind of meeting place?


P.S. The picture on the left reminds me of a photo I took of Megan sitting in the middle of the mosaic located in "Strawberry Fields" in Central Park. If I could paste a copy of it here you’d know what I mean.

Anonymous said...

I truly love your mandalas!! I actually love all of your art, but your mandalas are special, at least for me, as I cannot speak for everyone. I am not an expert on art, I don't know the names of many artists, nor do I attend art museums with the intention of learning more about art, but I do know what I FEEL when I look at one of your mandalas...a sense of joy and awe come over me, just as it did when I was a child viewing a "spirograph" for the first time.
Being able to really look at each and every color, design, shape, and pattern, and the way that you use different shades of colors to make it appear as if the painting is projecting a light of it's own, is a very spiritual experience for me. It takes me away from the moments that we all worry about, that we need distraction from, even if it is just for a few moments, and allows me to "be" in the now...experiencing all of those thoughts, feelings, emotions, and intentions that you were feeling when you painted it, when YOU were "living in the moment" of expressing your spiritual and creative energies.

It's true, separation only exists in the mind, and that's why I love your mandalas so much because they connect me with the spiritual, creative side of myself, as well as serve to remind me of my connection to you and to all things. The power of the mandala is in all of that, and though symbolism plays a big part, a child could look at one and still be moved by it without understanding the meaning behind it. Isn't that what art is supposed to do?

The mandala is a subconscious, (and sometimes conscious)reminder of the Light the resides within us, and our connection to that Light, and is not only healing for the person who paints it, but also for the person who takes the time to observe it.

Just look at the conversations that your mandalas evoked!...that's pretty powerful in itself!


murphy said...

These are stunning... I love the way you can see the layers of color with the watercolors.

Glad to see others are doing EDIM as well! Good luck!

french toast girl said...

Patti, these are just LOVELY. I took your suggestion and have been coloring mandalas with my children, and the symmetry of them is very soothing. Mine are nowhere near as nice as yours! ♥