In addition to quilting, or, for the past few years, virtual quilting, I play around with other creative pursuits. I’ve sewn a few bags, because I hate paying for bags that aren’t exactly what I want anyway. Zentangling, or at least my version of it, is another way I soothe my brain. I’ve also played around with acrylic paint. I’m by no means a great artist, but I found a technique that makes pretty designs and also works like meditation for me. Have you seen the dot mandalas popping up all over Pinterest?
I went about it backward, of course. Normal people would have started with a tutorial, painted a simple, small mandala, then moved on to larger canvases. Nope, I saw a photos, said “I can do that,” and painted a 4 foot long plywood hummingbird with dozens of mandalas.
And then I turned it over and painted the other side.
I figure I had about a hundred hours in the project, which was one of 26 displayed throughout Rotary Botanical Gardens, then auctioned off at the end of the summer.
I did it again the next year, this time on a fish that had nearly twice the surface area as the hummingbird. I used an actual fish as my inspiration, the Queen Trigger Fish on one side…
… and the Clown Trigger Fish on the other side. I thought about just leaving the black section plain, but decided to give a black-on-black mandala a try. It worked, and I love the way it looks.
I try not to think about the time vs sale price comparison, because both the hummingbird and the fish went for around $200 each. It was a donation, I remind myself.
After doing the fish, I finally looked up a video on painting mandalas. Who knew – I’ve been doing it “wrong.” I was just freehanding it, but it’s much easier if you draw guide lines – basically a + and an x through the canvas to help with dot spacing. I decided to pick up some cheap canvases at Michaels when they were on sale, and give it a try.
Twenty mandalas later, I thought maybe I should try selling them. I took them down to the Gardens and listed them at the gift shop, which offers locally made art and gifts. I’ve even sold a few. I’ve painted canvases from 4″ to 10″, and I have some larger ones when I feel up to it.
This year I’m not doing the art project at the Gardens. It’s a frog, with weird skinny legs, and it costs a lot to participate (did I mention the artist purchase the plywood shapes?). They always go very quickly, so I don’t feel guilty about not getting one this year. Instead, I’m going to paint a gumdrop shape for the Janesville Performing Arts Center’s kids’ program fundraiser. They’re doing Willy Wonka JR and the candy pieces will be on display throughout downtown.