I have actually managed to finish this mandala. I’m fortunate that I have time available to devote to this. But recently, I’ve been thinking on how lucky I am to have my family still with me, and along with that goes my own aging, along with the career setup. I’ve got to remember, though, that the hard part is to keep going (the message that came along with this mandala was along these lines).
The first image here is from having finally gotten the bravery to finish drawing in my pencils. I’m including these first two images for my own records…
It was actually kind of a bit of a decision to make, as to whether to ink this, or paint directly on top of the pencils (I could have blotted up some of the darkness of the graphite with a kneaded eraser).
I should probably mention, as well, that the graphite here never came fully out of the paper. There are some lines that were incised into the paper…even lines that I thought were light. The only thing I can think of to do about this is to use a more erasable pencil, like a Pentel mechanical pencil, which has leads designed to be easy to erase. Either this, or I’ll have to be careful of the thickness/lushness of the paper I use, if I ever want to color these with dry media. (Incised lines show up under colored and regular pencils as whitish lines, as the later leads can’t penetrate into them to color them.)
Eventually, what I ended up doing was using a set of light grey Copic fineliners to go over the pencils. These weren’t the finest nibs — but the 0.1, 0.3, and 0.5 mm are the ones I think I used. I need to learn to press more lightly on these, as well — I could have wrecked the 0.1 and 0.3 by using too much hand pressure. The tips are just delicate.
For those of you who are interested, these are from the Warm Grey set, as I intended to work with warm colors, and wanted the lines to recede (otherwise, I would have used black).
Something, to me, seemed to have been lost when I erased the pencil guidelines (as much as I could, anyway), and was left with the bare linework. It seems like there was kind of a dimensionality to the pencils that went flat once the graphite was (mostly) erased and I was left with just this two-color skeleton.
Now that I’m looking at these together, I can see that there was some form of an advancing trumpet shape in the pencils, which I somehow lost in the inking plus cleanup.
I’m not totally satisfied with how the coloring went.
From thinking on this last night, I knew that I wanted to do something with orange, yellow, pink, and blue. I also knew that I wanted the angular shapes around the outside rim to be darker in value than the background. The flame shapes around the outside needed to be yellow. But that’s as far as I had gotten, in regard to what colors or values went, where.
The base of the outer orange of this set of colors was a deep Hansa yellow, plus Cadmium Orange Hue, which I later glazed over with a warm red-orange mixture (I used four colors and can’t remember exactly which they were — except I used Vermilion Deep [high tinting power!] with at least one or two yellows to cancel the intense red) which seemed to help it, a lot.
And, yeah, Winsor Yellow is probably one of my weakest colors, despite the fact that it could fight off Vermilion Deep…I’m thinking of trying a different brand when I have to replace my tube (or get a large tube instead of a tiny one).
Right now I’m wondering whether to work wet-into-wet with Ultramarine, around the base of the pink petals. The trumpeting effect is not something I saw up close, but now that I see these photos (akin to seeing things from a distance), I can kind of sense where I could have enhanced the image.
The teal is Phthalo Blue (GS) with Sap Green (a chance I took; Sap Green has a yellow overtone which I wasn’t sure would work out); the purple, Magenta Permanent with Dioxazine Violet. The pink petals are Permanent Rose, which also forms the base of the red circle at the center, though in the latter I glazed over the area with Winsor Red.
As for anything inside that center…I used mostly Ultramarine there, with some kind of cool yellow plus water, scrubbing, and a relatively clean brush, to create the greens in the very center.
I was trying to keep relatively clean colors, which is why there wasn’t any mixing across the color wheel — and why I went in with some pure pigments.
I’m fairly certain that my color scheme doesn’t lend itself well to a traditional reading of what the mandala may signify. 😉 Four-petaled lotus and Ultramarine Blue don’t necessarily mesh, iconographically…but yeah, I was just trying to get this out some way similar to how it wanted to come out.
I’m still wanting to add more red around the outer ring; though in what form, I’m not sure. It was kind of a pain to paint those arrowhead-looking things, including the areas inside them — though I think I got a balance of positive and negative space going there, fairly well. Maybe if I painted Vermilion around the outer edges of the circle, edging in toward the shapes (to break up that negative space), keeping an ovoid halo around the flames, and added Ultramarine to the center of the pink flower?
That could work…the question now, though, is whether I draw in guidelines or just try to wing it…
And, right: the title of this post simply means that I can see other ways that I could have worked out what I did. This, then, gives me the inspiration to try again, and try something different. 🙂 So many more ways of doing things present themselves than are able to be expressed, that it takes multiple additional iterations to try and answer the questions of, “what if I did things differently”…and those later iterations raise even more questions, so this becomes an ongoing process.
When I met my Art teacher at work the other day, I almost felt apologetic to tell her that I was simply working with mandalas, but even this will give one a taste of creative process…and that’s invaluable.