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I’ve been absent from the blog since returning from the US in early November. It might just be because I’ve become a little preoccupied with making mandalas. 

The person I have to blame thank for this wonderful new activity is Bo Mackinson whose mandala workshop I attended at Patti Digh’s Life is a Verb Camp.

As I’m usually awake with the sun (which where I live means 4.30 am in the middle of summer), this is a perfect and quiet way to start the day (after the first cup of coffee of course).

The size varies depending on the paper/card I’m working with, usually either a 4 inch (10.5 cm) or 7 inch (17.5 cm) diameter. Thus far, they’ve mainly been on black paper, with metallic pencils and gel pens as per Bo’s recommendation.

Some of the lessons that emerge for me from this practice are:

  • mostly there is no plan and that can lead to surprises
  • be patient
  • take it slowly
  • experiment with different patterns and styles
  • don’t be afraid if it gets messy – keep going to the end

 

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I’ve been wanting to get back to some drawing play and the kindest medium I know is willow charcoal. Why? Because it’s easily erased, is good for finger play and enables you to use an eraser for contrast.

Today’s attempt does bear some resemblance to the photograph. But in a sense, that doesn’t matter. What happens when you’re working with something like this is your brain gets to open up to other possibilities. It’s relaxing. And it’s also fun to get a bit messy.

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A great opportunity presented itself today in the form of a drawing workshop (my first) at the ignite redlands light arts festival in Cleveland.

Artist Leigh Camilleri was our teacher and charcoal was the forgiving and filthy medium.

We began with tentative first drawings of our model.  Then contour drawings (no peeking now!).  Each step of the way, Leigh shared her considerable knowledge and dared us to be brave.

I loved working with the charcoal. The eraser and my hands became part of the play as we worked and reworked the final drawing (see the last two images) as a whole and in segments.

I learned so much in such a short time and will happily head back to the classroom later in the year after our big road trip which is approaching fast.

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Another evening sketching the shoes at the end of crossed legs.  Pencil, then some marker play.  I’m quite happy with the blending effect on the jeans element.

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