I love it when my blog allows me to spend time with friends, learning about their passions. My evening with Ruth, trying some mandala painting, was brilliant. While stone painting itself isn’t completely new to me, it was the first time I’ve tried to paint a mandala pattern; in fact, any elaborate pattern at all, so it was always going to be challenging.
The word “mandala” is Sanskrit, meaning “circle”. From the little I’ve read about it, it appears to be a spiritual symbol which represents the universe and its completeness. I like that.
These geometric patterns are kind of easy to replicate, so long as you know where to start. Or, you have a Ruth to show you how.
We started by practising some different sized dots on a piece of card to get used to the amount of paint to load on the tool and the pressure needed to push down on the stone. I chose my colours for the mandala and we were ready to go.
I chose to paint on a heart-shaped stone. Sounded like a great idea at first, until it became clear how fiddly it is to hold and paint… It was challenging, and you can judge the results for yourself!
Now, this isn’t the place for a mandala painting tutorial, and there’s no way I could do the process justice. Ruth tells me there are lots of videos online if you want to try this out yourself. If you do, it’s worth investing in a variety of acrylic paints and a good varnish, and taking some time to learn how to make each section symmetrical, neat and all with a steady hand.
Ruth has a mandala dotting tool kit; each is numbered so you can easily make the right size dot. A trick of the trade is to look around your house for other possible tools: the flat end of pencils and drill bits are perfect, and they complement the other sets brilliantly.
Once we’d drawn a circle in the centre of our heart, with a cross through the middle – like a target – in chalk, it was easy to locate and paint the first five dots. Think of it as the four points of the compass with a central dot.
This is where I struggle to explain what you do! Basically, you’re creating the mandala from the inside, working outwards, one circle at a time, using the four compass points as your starting position each time. With practice, you get to know which size tool to use for each dot and also how much extra “dotting” to do within each circle, without going too far. Does that make sense?
I think the way I completed mine is a bit unorthodox. Around the outer edge, I put eight large dots and finished them with small decorative dots around each, by – I love this phrase – walking the dots. This is a cool technique using a tool dipped in the paint just once, you start at the top and as you “walk” the dots, they get smaller. It looks so pretty.
If I were Ruth, I probably would’ve found an attractive way to fill the spaces between these large dots, to make a complete circle. But I had a fear of ruining it with a step too far. I was finding it tricky to balance the stone at this point without smudging anything. So I left it there.
If you look closely – please don’t – there are some obvious flaws. But for my first attempt, I have to say I am happy with the result.
It was such a feel-good evening and one I’d love to repeat. I tried to persuade Ruth that she should teach a class. I know some people who would be there in a flash, and she has such a calming approach to teaching, she would be perfect! Watch this space?
I asked Ruth about where her passion for “rock painting” began, and whether she feels sad about sending away her made-with-love creations to customers.
“I started painting rocks when I joined the local rock hunting group. It started off as something fun to do with the children. I was looking online for ideas and I was really drawn to mandalas because I love the mix of colours and the symmetry.
Most of my early mandala stones I either hid for the local rock hunting group, or gave away to friends and family, so when I started selling them I was used to the process of letting them go.
I find it so exciting to send off a stone to a new home, and to know that it brings its new owner as much joy as it brought to me whilst painting it.” 🙂
I can’t just leave it here without letting you know where you can buy one of Ruth’s beautiful – and unique – mandala stones: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/RuthAxisaArt If you have a particular colour request, she will accommodate wherever possible.
It’s easy to see how this sort of activity can become addictive. It’s incredibly therapeutic: it forces you to concentrate and, because of that, it helps to clear your mind. And at the end of it, you’ve produced something you can keep, gift or hide for someone to find!
Rob and I loved it when we painted some pebbles to help raise awareness of Talking FreEly. Now I’ve rediscovered the feeling, it will become more of a feature in our family’s life. I have a project in mind… 🙂
Have you ever tried painting something as elaborate as mandala stones? If not, are you tempted to give it a go?
Bye for now!