Madonna’s Day

The Christmas of 2015 I was inspired by the traditional images of the Virgin and Child to create my own series of Madonna pictures. I saw this most sacred image of the Divine Feminine as present in all women of all ages and all places and all times and all circumstances of life. In total, I created 50 pictures.

This year I have decided to display most of them as a digital gallery in movie format. As you will see my pictorial representation is not sophisticated, but leans towards the childish in artistic terms. But each of these girl/woman images speaks to me in her own unique voice.

In honor of Mother’s Day, I am presenting the Madonna Mandalas to honor the Mother present in every woman.  (I am also posting this on my Marie Taylor, Ink blog.)  Here is the link to You Tube:

https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=RqjwRDACeE0

Second Quarter Arrives

Several times since the beginning of the year, I sat down and started to write a post to update the art activities. Wait a moment – that’s not quite true. I didn’t really sit down; I was more leaning back in my chair with my feet on the desk and pondering. And I really didn’t start to write, I started to think about writing. Well, several odds and ends have accumulated and a nascent guilt complex has shown its head.

Every six months or so I usually hit some kind of wall in my art making. I either believe I’ve nothing more to say/show, or even if I keep creating I feel like I’m repeating myself. Real breakthroughs, epiphanies, are not that reliable or predictable. So I often find myself just slogging through until something gives.

Last summer, I kick-started my stall by changing to a different/better medium and started working with thick illustration board. The improved depth of color and texture was enough to keep me inspired for several months.

Then I changed the tempo by working with different dimensions (of board, not reality, unfortunately) and created mandalas of 10 x 10, 15 x 15 and 20 x 20 inch formats. This also kept me interested for a while. Most recently, I’ve gone the other direction and made some 5 x 5 and 7.5 x 7.5 inch mandalas. These babies also offered some new challenges, specifically of delicacy and precision.

Meanwhile, I’m going to sell some of the mandalas in a massage/Reiki school and am looking for other outlets in which other differently wired people gather. A lot of my motivation for this is I just want to get these mandalas out and make room for new ones.

Now I’m back to a stalled position in art making but I’ve been busy with teaching. I’m still offering classes at a Sacramento senior center and in May we’ll be having a little art show of the students’ work. May will also be the beginning of teaching a four-part workshop at Colonial Heights Library.

In addition, I’m developing an art appreciation/experimental class that may or may not work out. My idea was to showcase an artist who had a distinctive style or approach, offer some educational background on his life and then do an open studio thing in which we tried to draw/paint/etc. in that style. Our initial artist will be Georgia O’Keeffe, then Mondrian and Pollock. The first class will be in June.

Now that the torrential rains of winter are mostly over and summer’s sunny skies just around the corner, I’m thinking I might go back and do some ink wash painting for a change of pace. I put down my brushes nearly two years ago and will probably have to relearn everything – which might be a good thing. I am not the person today that I was two years ago. I’ll see things differently now.

That’s it for a while. Here’s a famous quote to end the post:
“The object isn’t to make art; it’s to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable.” Robert Henri

New Season, New Look

Fall is almost here and in keeping with the coming changes I’ve update the look and design of this website. I think it is more readable now and easier to navigate with just three buttons – the artist, ink wash and mandala art.

The mandalas show above are the latest I’ve designed – the major new aspect is that these are much bigger – instead of the 8 x 8 or 10 x 10 format these are either 15″ square or 20″ square. It makes a difference in design parameters and opens the imagination to new ideas.

I’ve been approached by a new senior center to teach mandala art and I’ll make an announcement as soon as it is finalized. In addition, I’ve gotten the go ahead to head a workshop after the first of the year I’ve titled, “Exploring Aging as a Spiritual Journey.” As an active traveler, I am very excited about this topic.

Teaching Mandala Art

For the last year I have been teaching Mandala Art at a local senior center. My ‘students’ range from 55 to over 80 years of age and all but a few are women. The majority have never had any art training and many were reluctant to even sign up believing they had no talent for this kind of thing.

Within a few weeks they are drawing simple geometric mandalas and in a few months are creating complex designs and color palettes accented by freehand drawing. They are amazed and delighted as they discover they are indeed artists and have a great capacity for creativity. As their confidence grows, so does their daring and experimentation.

What I am most proud of in my students is their willingness to try something new, to try something they see as challenging. The other thing I find most admirable is their unqualified support for each other. There is no criticism of another’s efforts, no competition except with oneself; instead I see kindness and encouragement for all the members.

Here are some of the guidelines I give them about designing and coloring mandalas:

  1. When designing a mandala first set the basic structure or underlying grid before adding circles, ellipses, or secondary lines.
  1. It doesn’t matter whether you design a mandala from the outside in, or the inside out.
  1. To break preconceived ideas, close your eyes and pick a color to use. Or, pick a color and then blindly pick a shape to color.
  1. Use a color on the outer levels and then repeat the color on the inside. One shape should be big(ger) and one small. This repetition of color will cause the eye to move in and out of the mandala design.
  1. Use both hot and cool colors but have one predominate.
  1. White is a color and helps to give ‘space’ to other colors.
  1. There is no such thing as an ugly color.
  1. If you have trouble choosing colors, start with the smallest shapes first.
  1. Hot colors and vivid/dark colors are dominant. Light and pastel colors recede.
  1. When in doubt, use a lighter shade of a color first. You can always go darker; you cannot go lighter.
  1. Use the color black at the end of the coloring and use it to accent or correct the design.
  1. After the mandala is completed, go over all design lines in black. Use varying thicknesses of line.
  1. There is no such thing as a mistake; there is an opportunity to go into a new direction.

“A GREAT PAINTER will know a great deal about how he did it, but still he will say, “How did I do it?” The real artist’s work is a surprise to himself.” 

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

A few examples of my current work:

New Mandala Designs

I have revisited geometric mandala design and taken it in another direction. The new designs seem to have a Moorish or Indian influence, incorporating a lot more detail and ornamentation. I am also now using illustration board rather than Bristol paper and I really like the added tooth – it seems to really grab the color and deepen it.

I have knee replacement surgery set for early May and will be using part of the downtime to combine and revamp my websites. I will keep Marie Taylor Ink but eliminate the Marie Taylor Art and Sacred Gate sites. I will also be streamlining Ink and removing a lot of the old stuff. I’ll post again this summer. 🙂

Here’s a few examples of the new look.

 

Madonna & Child

Byzantine Madonna
Byzantine Madonna

When my knee replacement surgery was postponed a couple of weeks ago because my surgeon was in an accident, I had the time and inclination to start an art project. I decided to make my own Christmas card. A simple undertaking I assumed. I first thought of making a mandala but soon was inspired to draw a traditional Madonna and Child within the mandala format. After a few clumsy starts I came up with the design I call “The Heavenly Madonna.”

But that was just the tip of the Madonna iceberg. All kinds of image of madonnas crowded into my imagination, all clamoring for their portraits to be done. To date I have 21 in total and think there are a few more rattling around in there.

I don’t claim that these are fine art. Some of them look rather primitive or childish but there is something charming about them, an innocence of some sort. The process has been a very beneficial one for me as it has given me time for reflection while I am drawing to consider the mother and child archetypes- perhaps the most basic and important of all symbolic relationships. The one who nurtures and the one who is nurtured, a symbiotic dance of love.

It has also given me the opportunity to reflect on my own personal mother/child interactions – to consider what I have done and what I would now do differently. Also, as I age I feel myself growing into the crone role, the old grandmother. What is there to give and receive now? Who is there to nurture and be nurtured by? Who is now the child and who the mother?

Christmas is the celebration of new beginnings and more and more I am realizing that time is itself the gift we give and receive. To fully acknowledge the transiency of this life and to release my belief in any control over its duration, requires all my courage. In return, every day is a dearer and little tearful and more beautiful.

All the blessings of the season to you and yours.

To see all of the Madonnas go to the top menu, click on Folk Mandalas and then the drop menu for Madonnas

 

 

HEALING ARTS

111I just learned that one of my mandalas is being used by the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology to publicize this year’s conference in Reston, VA. The theme for the event is Integrating Science, Psychotherapy and the Healing Arts and will be held over Memorial Day weekend. The speakers and topics for discussion look very interesting. Wish I could attend – but it’s a long way from Sacramento!

https://m360.energypsych.org/event.aspx?eventID=56032&instance=0

The main reason I continue to draw mandalas is the peace and healing they bring. When I am working on one, my mind is focused on design and free of worry thoughts. If the attention wanders, it can usually be seen after the mandala is completed. Sometimes the lines are not clean or symmetrical or the colors are blurred or muddy.

All art evolves and I have not made appreciable changes to the mandala designs for a year or two. It’s time for change – but I am not sure what the next step is.

On the Zen Brush front, I have started a new round of painting and look forward to being surprised at what comes up. Meanwhile, Happy New Year to all!