Exposing My Innards

Exposing My Innards

It is 1:00 a.m. and I am going to regret this so much in the morning, but I had to get out of bed to post these thoughts here tonight because they are driving my brain insane.


Okay. So this whole thing started off with my henna art, which, as I’ve mentioned before, is something I do on the side. Back in November, I decided to go formal with this art as a side business. I registered my name, put up my website (www.EarthWillowHenna.com), and used part of the insurance check I got for my roof to purchase the supplies to get myself festival-ready. I have not done very well with marketing myself yet and have only done two events so far, but I can see the potential this has for making some extra income each month.


Anyway, in an attempt to branch out even further, and really as a way to make money at my henna booth while I’m actually applying henna to my customers and/or waiting for customers to walk up, I decided to also apply for a tax license. The idea was to take along drawings and paintings of mandalas and set them up inside the booth. This would have the added benefit of attracting more people to the booth since they are pretty and colorful and symmetrical and cool. People tend to like that kind of stuff.


Well, a funny thing has happened. I watched a video about making these like closeups of mandalas here, and I began to experiment. The first one I made looks almost identical to the one made in the video:


I used a big fat oil-based paint pen and a canvas I had covered with acrylics a few months ago. It was super satisfying, but I felt that it was cheating, in a way, since it was so much like the example and since I had used stencils for the circles.


The second time I tried it, I used a little postcard-sized piece of watercolor paper. I made the design on the white paper first, then added watercolors, and finally shaded it with colored pencils:


Then I did it again but from a different angle and with different colors. This one I actually cut in half lengthwise and hole-punched to make a pair of bookmarks:


I am absolutely in love with these, and it has nothing at all to do with the possibility of making money from them. They are therapeutic to create and they make me very happy, especially after I add the brilliant colors.


Today, however, I decided to push myself even more. Instead of using stencils, I sketched the circles using a pencil tied to a string and anchored at one point. This allowed me to make designs that didn’t rely on the circles themselves but which were still radial. I liked the imperfection of this style and the freedom it offered me to try different patterns. The result (which is still a work in progress), is the piece at the top of this post. For this one, I’m planning to photograph the black and white design, transfer it to digital, and work on it there so that I can use the same mandala with different color variations. Sounds like cheating, too, I know, but believe me, coloring those teenie tiny spaces on Photoshop will be even more tedious than coloring them by hand. As for the original, I plan to color it using markers this time and again finishing it off with colored pencils.


But okay, here’s where my mind exploded. I went to bed at 11:00 p.m. like a good girl (tomorrow is my first day back at work after a spectacular winter break!) and could not stop thinking about how to make these even more my own! Forget stencils and string–I want to sketch the circles freehand! And forget simple petals and triangles, I want to make weird, unexpected shapes. The more I thought about them (and at some point I was actually dreaming about them), the more I realized that what I want to do is bring back something I used to make when I was in grade school. I never knew what to call them, but they were like these very intricate, very symmetrical sort of shrubs inside planters. Sadly, I don’t have any of my originals–how fascinating it would be if I could go back and analyze my childhood artwork now–but a few years ago I did go through a phase in which I began making these again. They were much more solid now, much more detailed and symmetrical. Here’s an example of one:


Do you see the half-mandala sprouting from the planter at the bottom? And can you see how a mandala is simply a series of odd shapes repeated around a circle? When I made these shrub-type things, I always took pride in the fact that I didn’t use any tools other than pencil, eraser, and ink–no compass, no ruler, no stencils–and I think I want to go back to that.


These guys have been inside of me for as long as I can remember.

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