Category Archives: mandalas

A Candy Colored Mandala

Sweet and sour

Sweet and sour

This color palette reminds me of the sour gummies the kids like. Apparently I am too old to understand their appeal. Even though I would not eat the colors in this mandala, I I love its complexity, the combination of circles and triangles, the way the (almost) straight lines intersect. It’s a really successful design.

Today was a pretty emotionally taxing day for me. We thought we would blow off steam with some storm chasing, as towering cumulonimbi surrounded the city in the early afternoon, but they had all dispersed against the mountains, which happens sometimes, so we walked by the river instead, and then ate West African food and then got baklava, and then watched a cute anime called A Letter to Momo. Other than that I have no update.

On Thursdays We Get Mandalas

This mandala is on point.

This mandala is on point.

Yesterday was Monsoon Day, otherwise known as the Dia de San Juan. It’s a local holiday, I guess. Maybe it rains on June 24 in other parts of Arizona, but in 11 years in Tucson, I’ve never known a real storm to come down before the 5th of July. Instead, it just gets really hot and muggy. I went out to lay down some pre-emergent on the front yard to prevent the desert weeds from taking over the property when the rains do come, and I was dripping with sweat when I came in. Still, we haven’t swapped the swamp cooler over for the AC, which means the humidity still isn’t high enough. It’s not yet monsoon.

It was another ineffective day for me; mostly just reading. Maybe tomorrow I’ll get my act together.

Just Another Digital Mandala

Circles within circles...

Circles within circles…

Here’s your Friday mandala. My hand is a little stiff from filling in all those circles, or I probably would have filled in twice as many circles.

Also today I decorated the top of a disintegrating $10 Ikea table with $7 of patterned duct tape. It looks pretty good, all things considered. Will post a picture when the legs are done. It’s in the 110 degree range in Tucson, and there was also a chiltepin pepper plant to repot. I didn’t want to melt before that was taken care of. I actually wanted to draw a comic, but we had an impromptu pool party and I didn’t get to work until almost midnight.


A Pointy Mandala

You don't want to step on this mandala in the middle of the night.

You don’t want to step on this mandala in the middle of the night.

It’s the iron throne of mandalas. You might look cool sitting on it, but you won’t feel good about it, ever. That’s a point that Martin makes in the books that doesn’t entirely come across in the TV show: the iron throne is extremely uncomfortable, and whoever sits on usually gets cut. Because it’s a chair made out of swords. The symbolism is spot on, but the functionality is lacking.

Actually, there’s one thing in the books that they never even mention in the show, which seems really important to me, and it bugs me that they don’t mention it, and this is the fact that Winterfell is built over a series of hot springs. This is why it’s such a strategically important location. They can just throw some greenhouses up over the springs and grow food through the long winter no matter how many years it lasts. Plus, whoever controls Winterfell can basically hole up there forever (provided the White Walkers don’t get in). Given the pace at which short-sighted power players in Westeros are destroying resources while tragedy creeps every closer, the value of the old Stark place is probably greater than something like the Red Keep, which would most likely be a delightful spot to die one the supply lines are cut, given that there doesn’t seem to be any agriculture in King’s Landing. Once the rats and pigeons run out and the Blackwater is overfished, everyone in the capital city will be forced to resort to cannibalism.

I can’t believe I just wrote an entire post on Game of Thrones, but there it is. The iron mandala should probably have 7 points, but whatever. My head hurts. The weather here is weird and I didn’t sleep much last night and I cant’ find any naproxen. The end.

Just Like Honey from the Bee Mandala

Just like honey, from the bee

Candy drops and sweet emotion 

Monday was a good day! My article about Jews in comics got a good reception, and mercury got up over 102, which means a couple things: my fingers and toes and nose didn’t get frozen even when The Man blasted the cooler, zero traffic picking the kids up from the first day of camp (people flee this city when it gets hot), and the pool finally reached 80 degrees! Hooray. Now I have a compelling reason to get my butt off this couch. I will be conducting all further business from within the confines of my swimming pool.

People sometimes ask how to survive in the desert in the summer. This is how to survive in the desert in the summer. Also, we have an ice maker.

One thing I spend a lot of time doing in the pool is rescuing bees from drowning. I guess when we’re not in it it’s flat enough that they don’t break the surface tension, but the kids and I must have pulled 15 bees out of the water in 30 minutes. Well, I pulled most of them and the Boy got a couple. The Girl is still timid, even though she’s seen me do it a thousand times. Seriously, the last thing a drowning bee is thinking of is stinging you.

You can observe them very minutely when they’re all wet and out of sorts. They shake their wings vigorously, too fast for the human eye to see, and use their front legs to brush the water off their midsection. They even brush off their long tongues. If they’re still wet, they lean onto their front legs and use their back legs to dry themselves. The longer they’ve been in the water, the more time they take to combobulate themselves.

This mandala reminds me of butterscotch and toffee and caramel: all the mostly-sugar candies, and also, of course, honey.

Sticks and Thorns Mandala


It’s a prickly situation

I had intended to post 2 comedic drawings of teddy bears tonight, but I was offered the opportunity of a free sitting with a sought-after photographer, one who usually charges a decent amount of money for people who don’t fit his perfect profile in terms of the models he wants to shoot, and nobody has ever mistaken me for a professional model, so in the interest of feeding my midlife crisis, I decided to do that instead of work, and now it’s after midnight and there’s no time or headspace to finish my weird teddy bears, so here, have a mandala.

This is a very desert-y one, all spiky with wild grasses and dry thorny twigs. It appears flammable. Some of the grasses are probably non-native invasives, whose presence tend to change the character of the desert, and make it more susceptible to uncontrollable wildfire. Usually, they’re pretty prevalent at this point in the season, but it’s been the wettest spring I can remember around here and there’s still plenty of green to choke out the brown.

Natural Geometry Mandala

Classically beautiful...

Classically beautiful…

I’m in love with this elegant purple mandala. It’s really regular in symmetry and even thought it’s limited and color and shape, that simplicity opens up a greater complexity in the overall design.

Flowers are their own kind of mandala

Flowers are their own kind of mandala

Today was a nice day as far as being an artist goes. I read fairy tales to kindergarteners, repaired books for the school library, and took a rambling walk in the park, mostly for the purpose of take photos of roses. I also spent a lot of time swinging on the swings, for the purpose of giving little dragon some air. How many hours a week did I spend swinging when I was a kid? Jumping rope? Skipping? I mean, seriously, I probably jumped rope a couple hours a week, every week.

Here’s when I stopped swinging a lot: I was probably about 12 or so. I had a Walkman (children…it’s like an MP3 player, but it only holds one album at a time) and I was swinging with my eyes clothes and my headphones on and a toddler ran in front of me and I kicked that little sucker right in the head. I don’t remember the kid’s reaction, but I do remember the mom freaking out. She wanted to be mad at me for swinging with my eyes closed and my headphones on, but she knew it was her own fault for letting her baby run in front of the swings.

So today I didn’t close my eyes. A little girl came over and swung next to me. I could tell she wanted to strike up a conversation–I am a colorful person, after all–but she was too shy. Instead, she tried to swing as high as me. I decided that I was going to outswing this kid, that I would keep going longer and higher than she could. Trying to keep up with kids is better than a FitBit. So I ended up pumping for way longer than I would have otherwise. Eventually, the kid had what sounded like an asthma attack and stopped swinging. Which means I won!!!

Then The Man and I went out with the Missesses Kitty and ate a really unreasonable amount of West African cuisine, which I have been obsessed with all month. Fufu! Peanut sauce! Goat! Good stuff.

A Digilicious Mandala

My soul isn't perfect; why should my mandalas be?

My soul isn’t perfect; why should my mandalas be?

One of the reasons that crayon mandalas became less prevalent in my day-to-day life is that I felt I was reaching the limits of the abstract form and beginning to repeat myself. The representative ones were still original, but those take a lot more forethought and don’t spill out in the same organic way as the purely geometric ones.

When I did last week’s mandala on the tablet, I had to start over again with the form in some ways. I had to let go, again, of the idea of perfection. Now I start to see more possibilities.

With crayon, what’s done is done. You can stack a little bit of color with Crayolas but not with great detail. You can’t really go past a certain level of detail in crayon, whereas the tablet lets you get down to the pixels, and, of course, to add layers, so that you can always get something on top of whatever you’ve done. So that’s what I’ve been exploring here, and I’m actually much happier with the result than I was with last week’s circles. Something about the dots and lines reminds me of various types of indigenous folk art. I think I can really start to get even more impressive results, and hopefully come up with something T-shirt worthy.

In the real world, I still have a few more days in the cold place, although it has been warming up. Crocuses and snowdrops and narcissus–the first flowers of spring–are just poking their heads through the soil, and everywhere you go, landscapers are trying to untangle the mess of this unreasonable winter. It’s increasingly difficult to function; sleep is elusive here, in a narrow bed, without The Man, without some of the comforts of home that help me sleep. It becomes debilitating very fast. Maybe tonight will be the night that I sleep for 8 hours without interruption.

My First Digital Mandala

If you squint, it's practically perfect.

If you squint, it’s practically perfect.

Here’s my confession: it was time to upload Thursday’s mandala, except the crayon series is, of course, hard copy, and we’re caught up with the scans. I would have had to get up off the couch, turn on the scanner, plug it into the computer, open the scanning software, find the next mandala in the series, pull out the scanner from the shelf and then get the paper into it without hurting the scanner or the paper, scan it, refile the original, uncouple and turn off the scanner, close the software, and then upload the file. And this all seemed like an unconscionable amount of work. So I drew this one instead, because the tablet was already plugged in; the stylus was already in my hand.

I have not gotten off the couch in nearly 4 hours.

This is really not something to be proud of.

Up close this design looks pretty amateur hour, especially compared to some digital work you see, but if you shrink it down or look at it from far away it’s not bad. I still did it freehand so it feels like mine but I think I can get more impressive results with better technique and more knowledge.

Today I have to go to Chicago, so I’ve uploaded this mandala in advance. It’s uncertain how regularly I’ll be able to update while I’m away; I’ve got a bunch of other commitments and work on which I’ve fallen behind, and I’m not likely to sleep well on this trip, or have much free time. There will be something, but I’m not sure what.

Love and Lace Mandala

Symmetry is a many-petaled thing

Symmetry is a many-petaled thing

It sort of reminds me of the desert heliotrope (blue phacelia) with its cordate leaves and its projecting stamina. (I had to look that up; the plural of stamen is stamina, although stamens is acceptable. Except it’s not acceptable to me. Not when stamina is in the offing.) But it also looks like a rather complicated doily, something your great aunt would lovingly smooth over the back of an armchair.

I finally cleared the shmutz off my flatbed scanner, but I scanned so many mandalas before I realized it was there that there will be another couple weeks of smudged papers. That scanner is super useful, but I don’t like working it. There’s no convenient place for it in my office. Yesterday I spent a really long time trying to scan 3 pages from a graphic novel. Graphic novels don’t really fit in flatbed scanners.

If only, one day, I could be so successful that I could pay someone to do my scanning for me. Ha ha ha. Tired today. No further witticisms.

By the way, you can follow me on Twitter @QWERTYvsDvorak