Starting out with mandala generation

I only have a little time to write before I get back to my screenwriting homework, but…hey, other than my nap and eating (along with some hopeful browsing), I’ve been working at this class all day.  I realized a couple of days ago that it had been some time since I’d written here last, and when I get off track like I did last time, it’s hard to know where to re-enter.

What I’ve been doing, artwise, has circled around the process of creating a mandala for the Mother’s Day gift that I put off during Finals.  Of course, now Father’s Day has come and gone.  I’m thinking that maybe I just don’t understand special days…like if I’m going to give a gift to show I love you, can’t it be any day, not just limited to holidays?  But then maybe people get depressed because they think you don’t care about them, even on their special day.  But anyhow…

I’ve started on a mandala-making journey which promises to be…interesting, at the least, and I might learn some things (geometry, linear algebra) and be very productive, at best.  There is one person I’ve been following on WordPress who has been making a mandala every day, though on searching for their blog in the Reader, I no longer see it (and it routinely did not show up in my feed).  The person I’m thinking of did all their designs in ballpoint pen, with a rather baffling number of divisions (I’d say at least 20)…I wouldn’t be surprised if they took it down because others were using the images.

Anyhow, though…I’ve found that I can generate bases for mandalas (I keep wanting to call them mandalae, but that’s probably wrong) by taking a square of paper — like origami paper — and beginning to make creases in it.  Where the creases meet is a potential point for a vertex…it’s easier to make sense of it when you see it, but I’d rather not share the little one I did right now, in case I end up needing to use it for a class (plagiarizing myself — or someone else who copied my design — again comes in as a concern).

I should state that I’m not holding to any predetermined religious format or meaning for what I’m doing, rather allowing things to be generated internally with the help of visual and tactile aids which incidentally form patterns which can be described mathematically.  The latter was kind of a surprise, but it explains the visual harmony I found on my first attempt.

I’m wanting to do multiple “thumbnails” in smaller origami paper, first.  I’m using some weird off-size which is between 6″ and 8″, though I’m not sure where exactly it falls, in there.  At this point, though, it doesn’t matter, because the entire image can scale up or down depending on the size of the square.

Once I decide on a pattern I want to blow up (I want to try and generate at least three, before choosing one), I’ll try and recreate it in 12″x12″ paper.  I could not find origami paper of this size, even after calling all of the local art stores I knew of — they had 9″x9″ and 13″x13″ and 10″x10″ and 5 7/8″x5 7/8″ and odd sizes like this (I don’t know why these sizes are this way; I’m not even sure it makes sense in Metric), however, 12″x12″ is a standard size for scrapbooking paper.  I only recalled this when I remembered the non-archival sheets of colored paper that I’d obtained for preparatory sketches…and I matched it to my 12″x12″ panel…they are exact.

So I was able to find sheets of 12″x12″ scrapbooking paper at a craft store, which only need one edge trimmed off before they’re usable.  This is easy when the printing is exactly aligned to the right spot!  These can be used, in my limited experience, basically like origami paper.  This last time, I got some pages — 10 of them — at 59¢ each, which were only printed on one side (leaving the back free to mark up).  This is because everything I’d gotten up to this point was actually cardstock.  I did initially try to fold the cardstock, because I had nothing else in the right size, but when unfolded these provide ridges along the crease lines.  That may be desirable sometimes, but not all the time.  The up-side is that they’re not as fragile as folded origami paper; the midweight papers I found at the craft store are a nice compromise.

And in any case — I have a 12″x12″ Hardbord panel that I bought around Mother’s Day, which is just waiting to be primed and have the pattern transferred onto it via graphite transfer.  I’m thinking that if I do a series of these, I’ll want to get some Saral paper, just so that I won’t have to deal with messiness (graphite rubbing off of the back of the pattern in storage) and Glassine protective sheets or envelopes.  Though, I do have enough Glassine.

My only real concern…well, I have to come up with a color scheme.  It’s not like I have a lack of colors (especially where it comes to acrylics or colored pencils), but…the look of a piece changes drastically when the colors are changed.  It’s actually very striking.  But!  I do suppose that I can experiment with this!  I actually think this could be good material for a series of works.  With each new fold, the possibilities for execution multiply; with each line drawn, they focus and decrease.

While searching for the blog I was thinking of, above, I found a number of other sites with mandalas…which got me thinking about the use of a compass and protractor.  But, in time…

P.S. to myself:  Don’t forget about the 12″x12″ watercolor paper you got to use for color experiments, or alternately, watercolor painting of these designs.  They should help, prior to or instead of the Hardbord idea.


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Haru ("Codey") is a third-year Master's student in Library and Information Science, hoping to find a way to fuse their desire to make the world a better place and to finance their art.

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