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coloring outside the lines: watercolor mandalas

2010 August 9
by joy
watercolor mandala

watercolor mandala detail (c) 2010 joy

This past Saturday I attended a four-hour watercolor mandala class with Michele Faia, called “Painting as a Path to the Heart.”

I’d signed up at the urging of a good friend, who thought I’d love it.

She was right!

Michele taught art history at our local community college, teaching watercolor mandala art workshops outside of academia as an artist. Her self-published book, Art in My Heart, features both her own mandala work as well as those from her students.

The supply list is minimal: watercolor paper (preferably 140#), basic student grade watercolors–she suggests we start out with a Prang palette, which I found in the elementary school supply aisle–and a round watercolor brush, somewhere between size 5 and 10.

She guided us through some basic skills in watercolor painting to doing a personal mandala, adapting the lessons to accommodate those of us who were newbies and while supporting her returning students.

The emphasis is on process, not making Art.

Michele was demonstrating how to “lift” watercolor off the page by tapping the brush on a paper towel and soaking up paint off the page. She pointed out that some colors run (spread out on the page), while others just sit. The cadmium orange began to run within the small 1″ square wetted area on the paper.

“I just love how the colors run. I think it’s more interesting than just flat color.”

I agree. I like the variation in color, though I struggle with the randomness. What? I can’t control the paint?!

It took awhile to let go of this idea. I was trying too hard to get to where I thought I should be, rather than letting the process guide me forward.

Eventually, when my colors bled into each other, I was at the point where I could simply observe in appreciation.

comment zen: be kind. play nice.

7 Responses Post a comment
  1. August 11, 2010

    Wow, I wish I lived somewhere I could take these really cool classes. It looks like it was a really nice way to spend the afternoon. I like what you said about your process of letting go of control and moving toward observing in appreciation.

  2. August 11, 2010

    Oh I like this–I so know what you mean. It’s something I struggle with a lot–both with my writing, and with other creative endeavors that I attempt. Too much time is spent thinking about the process and trying to control every last bit of it. Yet, when I do that, the product is not nearly so good. The best stuff, the really good, really deep, really beautiful stuff flows through me and out me, without any effort, without any struggle…

    • September 8, 2010

      Since I’m a art/writing workshop junkie, I can see it in other people–I think everyone struggles. Having seen it in others helps me remember to just stop my brain. Thanks, Karen.

  3. September 5, 2010

    I love love love love love this blog / this writing / this goodness. You are a creative bright light in my world.

    • September 8, 2010

      oh, Jen, i’m so touched by this comment! thank you for visiting and “liking” the Facebook page!

  4. September 6, 2010

    Thank you to Jen Louden for turning me on to this fabulous blog! I look forward to soaking up lots of creatively inspiring thoughts here in the future. Nice show!

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