Tag Archives: mandala

Happy Summer Solstice! (new artwork!)

Summer-Solstice-2014-smallLiving in the suburbs of Chicago, as I do, we suffer through some brutal winters. Snow piles up to your waist, frozen fingers, minus twenty degree wind chills, cold that feels like it simply sucks the air out of your lungs…it’s ugly. FUGLY even. And sometimes, it feels like it will never end.

Except it does. And the summers are glorious.

Now some people will complain about the heat. I am not one of those people. I am the first to throw out the phrase “POLAR VORTEX” and promptly tell you to suck it up.  I love the heat. I love the summer. I love the sunlight warming up my skin, green growing things, farmers markets, warm breezes, afternoons at the pool, summer thunderstorms, backyard barbeques, flip flocks, and long hours of daylight. I love being outside at eight o’clock and having it feel like the evening has only just begun. I love waking up to full sun (as an official bad-at-morning person, I find waking up to my alarm infinitely easier in the summer and I am much kinder to those who try to communicate with me when I’ve just woken up).

Today, if you didn’t already know, marks the Summer Solstice, at least for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s the longest day of the calendar year. It’s kind of strange, because it feels like summer really only just kicked off, and the days start getting shorter from here.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to make a new piece or artwork for the occasion. Because Summer, I truly do love you! I meant to make something last year but time got away from me. Better late than never. :)

This, and the other new pieces I’ve created in the last few weeks should be finding their way into my Etsy shop very soon.

Summer-Solstice-2014-detail3 Summer-Solstice-2014-detail2 Summer-Solstice-2014-detail1Enjoy the longest day of the year everyone!

New Artwork {Space Mandala}

space mandala copyI’m a person who goes through phases. I find something that works, I hit my groove, and I settle myself into a nice comfortable rut. At once point in high school I went through a two bowls of cereal for dinner every night phase. Right now I’m in an iced coffee phase (venti with 2% milk and 3 pumps of sweetener, thanks), a gin and tonic with a splash of lime at the end of the night phase, a same pair of black sandals every day phase, a Mexican food for dinner way more often than I probably should phase, and a digital artwork phase. It’s kind of my thing that I do.

space-mandala-detailGetting stuck in a rut with artwork isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When you make variations of the same thing over and over, it forces you to experiment. What if I try this effect? What if I change the shape? What if I chance the opacity? What if I blend these colors? It’s kind of fun to just keep rearranging the elements until an idea until you’ve completely exhausted all of the possibilities, and then move on. It’s a great way to learn new things.

space-mandala-detail2Why “Space Mandala?” I guess it reminds me of outer space. I showed it to my boyfriend, who took a look and said “that’s cool, it looks all Dead Space.” That led me on a Google search of Dead Space (it’s a video game) to see what the connection was, because although I know he had the game at one point I never really paid much attention to it, because I think watching another person play video games is the most boring thing ever. If he’s playing games, I’m usually painting or making something on the computer. It works out very well actually. Anyway, all I could figure out from my Google search is that the color palette is the same, but I’m going to choose to take it as a compliment. :)

New Artwork {Sound Mandala}

design-copyHave you ever seen that video on You Tube where they place sand on a surface and then use different pitches of sound to manipulate it into different geometric patterns? It’s incredibly cool. If you haven’t seen it, you can find the video here.

For some reason this piece made me think of that video, even though when I went back and watched it again the patterns really aren’t the same at all. Also….this color palette! A little bit outside of my usual arsenal of blues, teals and  purples but WHOAH! I’m really digging it. This combination has an energy to it that I really, really love.

design-detail1 design-detail2I’ve been feeling incredibly inspired lately. I’ve joined a ton of different art groups on Facebook, and I’ve also been posting to my own art page a lot more often. Between getting some great positive feedback on my own work, and seeing the incredible things that other people are creating, I’ve been riding a great creative high over the last week. I’ve never been very good at self-promotion, but when you put your self out there and get a positive response…it’s a great feeling. There’s joy in creating, there’s joy in sharing something that you’ve made with love, and there’s an even greater joy in forming a connection with someone through it. Not to sound cheesy and sappy and lame, but there’s an indescribable happiness in that.


Rainbow Geometry {don’t go cross eyed}

rainbow-geometry-smallI keep staring at this and thinking that it looks like something made with a Spirograph. Remember those things? I loved mine. My daughter got one a few years ago, and although she like to mess around with it, she wasn’t nearly as obsessed with hers and I was with mine. I dunno, maybe I was just a weird kid. Maybe she’ll grow up one day and have a daughter who’s only moderately impressed by Hello Kitty and she’ll think her daughter is crazy. Who knows.

It’s been quite a while since I did a really cool piece of digital art. To tell the truth, I didn’t even create this one from scratch. I took an existing half-worked file and messed around with it until something pretty happened. Lately, when I have a minute of free time, I’ve been all about either reading, or painting. It’s all post-its stuck between book pages or acrylics under my fingernails. I tend to go through phases, and I guess the digital art must be at another spot in the rotation right now.

I think that this would made a really pretty large format print or tapestry, something two or three feet across. I would love to have large things like that available in my Etsy shop, but it doesn’t make sense to have something so large just sitting around unless someone wants to buy it. If you ever see something in the shop that you want in a a larger size let me know, and I can send you some prices. I’m always happy to working something out with customer orders. In fact, I kind of love it.

rainbow-geometry-detail3 rainbow-geometry-detail2 rainbow-geometry-detail1

Another Animation Attempt {8 + hours later…}

Talk about a loooooooooooooong process.

This animation project took me about eight hours altogether. Seriously. For about forty seconds worth of video (and THAT’s with the second half of the video being just a reversal of the first half!) Between creating the designs, creating the filler frames, an unsuccessfull attempt at exporting the designs from Illustrator to Photoshop (the file was way too big and almost put my seven-year old Mac into cardiac arrest), converting every single one of the one hundred and nine layers to make the file smaller, exporting it to Photoshop AGAIN, playing with the timing of each frame, and then exporting again to Quicktime and the uploading it to YouTube….you know basically know what I did all last weekend. But you know how it goes…catch the bug on any project and there’s no stopping until it’s done.

Oh yeah, did I mention that the first time I tried to export the video I was informed that my Mac’s startup disk was almost full? (I wasn’t 100% sure what that mean other than the fact it sounded rather ominous). That led to another two-hour side trip sifting through my bloated archives and trying decide what could be purged. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a total digital pack rat, and I hang onto pretty much EVERY version of EVERY project I’ve ever created. Zillions of Photoshop and Illustrator files, ten billion photos, thousands of songs, files that I had no idea were still in my download folder going back to 2011….. poor computer. No wonder it’s been so clunky lately.

This project is actually a weird offshoot of another series I’m working on for a friend of mine. I was working on a few different versions of a design for her and after lining them up in a row, I commented that it vaguely reminded me of a cell dividing. I made a mental note that someday I would have to come back to the design and play with it, then promptly forgot about it for the next five moths.

I was sending her some designs last Friday night (don’t judge me), and I came across the images again. I put in a couple of hours of work Saturday morning, and since I had Sunday wide open (you know, except for the cleaning and laundry and four other half-finished painting that I probably SHOULD have done) I managed to get it finished.

Just for fun, here’s the original set of images I made.


All I can say is….WOW. I have major respect for people who are actually good at this and do this for a living. I’m going to venture out there and say that there’s probably a way more efficient I could have/should have done this (I know you can animate in Flash but not gonna lie, it gives me horrific flashbacks to Web Design 2 in college and I HAAAAAAATE Flash) but still, making something seamless takes a heroic amount of time, effort and patience. Still, for a first attempt by someone who had no idea what she was doing, I think this is pretty cool. (Although I’m already itching to go back and fine tune it).

Sunrise Mandala {red and orange acrylic painting}

orange mandala kaleidoscope geometric red

Want to hear something funny? I’m not a big fan of yellow. Or orange. I can take them in small doses, but you’ll be damn sure that if you open my closet and rifle through every single article of clothing I own, you will not find one orange of yellow thing. Red I can handle. I think I own a red Nightmare Before Christmas t-shirt. So there’s that.Orange mandala progression 1

The whole point of this is that I’m a cool color girl at heart, and sometimes I have to force myself to use colors I don’t exactly love. If I didn’t do this I would exclusively paint in blue, teal and turquoise (and yes I know those are all pretty close to the same thing) with the occasion shot of purple, green and magenta thrown in there for good measure.

Orange mandala progression 2

Anyway, I’ve been collaborating with a friend on a pretty amazing project that’s right up my alley (which is all I can say for now, but I’m dying for it to be completed so that I can share it on here!) and as a part of it, I was doing some research on the chakras. If you’re not familiar, the basic idea of it all are that the chakras are the energy centers of your body, and that overractive/ underactive chakras can lead to various maladies/ disfunctions in the body, both emotionally, physically, and spirtually.

Some people are ruled more by their lower chakras and others more by the upper, but really you want to strive for basic equilibream. Your lower chakras deal more with the physical world, while the upper ones tend toward more mental/spirtual. I could go really deep into this , and maybe I will on another occasion, but long story short, I got to thinking that I must be an upper chakra person, and maybe that has sometime to do with my distaste for orange and yellow. When I think about my own personal weaknesses (Klutzy? Not “in your body?” Underactive Red (root) chakra. Lack of energy? Underactive sacral (orange) chakra. Lack of ambition? Underactive solar plexus (yellow) chakra.)

Orange mandala progression 4

I thought it might be fun to take those colors that I normally shy away from and embrace them. Immerse myself in yellow red and orange. And you know what? I actually really, really, love the result. So much that I want to do a few more of these – a cool colored one for the upper chakras, and a green one for the heart chakra (the balancer of the upper and lower).

Orange mandala progression 3

Orange mandala progression 5

I feel like the more I study energy, geometry, spirituality, astronomy, physics, etc, the further down the rabbit hole I go and the more I want to create. I want to channel what I’m learning not into words, but into visuals. There’s so much to learn and I feel like I’m only beginning to scratch the surface, both with my knowledge and with my artwork.

orange mandala kaleidoscope geometric redIf you like this image, as always, prints are available for sale in my Etsy shop.

Animated Kaleidoscope {new artwork in the shop}

Hello people of the interwebs! It feels like forever since I’ve been in this space. It really has been a crazy last few weeks.

Between my daughter going back to school and all the shopping that goes along with it, as well as two job prospects popping up at the exact same time, interviews, more interviews, getting an offer (!!!), faxing new-hire paperwork, shopping for office appropriate clothes because I managed to only own two pairs of “business casual” pants, as well as needing couple of tattoo-concealing cardigans, plus simply wanting to spend as much time with my family as possible before schedules changed and the bf and I go back to never having the same days off again, then all the brain-overload associated with the first week at a new job…life exploded all over the place. Busy, busy, busy. I haven’t been in front of the computer too much, and that awesome freshly gessoed canvas I was so excited to paint on? Still blank. Although I did come up with a pretty awesome idea of what I want to put on it. That’s the easy part. The hard part is finding a nice chunk of time away from grabby toddler hands to work on it.

I’ve said it before, but sometimes it’s much easier to create things on the computer, where all I need to do to protect it from said grabby toddler is unplug the keyboard. I was messing around, like I do when I can catch a bit of time to myself, (aka naptime) and I came up with this kaleidoscope design. Sometimes I come up with the overall shape of the image first, then play around with color combinations afterward and sometimes I do the opposite and choose a color palette, then compose a design around them. It depends what kind of mood I’m in, I guess. This one must have gone through ten or twenty different variations before I narrowed it down to these four below.

I think the one above might be my favorite. I had a hard time choosing, which is why there are four of them.

Anyway, since I had so many, I thought it would be fun to combine them and create the animated GIF you see at the top of the post. I experimented with animated GIFs here, and they’re actually incredibly easy to create. Check back later this week, and I’ll post a tutorial on how to make one. Super easy and fun, I promise.


If you like these designs, and you want one for yourself, all four prints are now available in my Etsy shop.

Red and Blue Kaleidoscope Art {now in 3-D!}

red and blue three dimensional looking kaleidoscope like circle design

Do you have any old school 3-D glasses at home? The really cool 1950’s style ones? If you do, you should slip them on and let me know if this kaleidoscope art actually looks three dimensional. I’d love to test it myself, but I don’t have any old 3-D glasses lying around my house (although I guess if I was feeling super crafty I could make some…but I’m lazy).

3D glasses

Don’t you love it when you’re creating something with a very specific style in mind, but at the last minute you experiment with something on a whim and your project does a complete 180? It actually happens to me a lot. This particular project was supposed to have all kinds of colorful rainbow edges, but when I experimented with it in Illustrator things weren’t working out the way they were supposed to. I ended up with this distracting stripe-y rainbow pattern going through the design and I hated it. I hope to keep playing with it and post a new version in a week or two, because in my head it’s beautiful (but everyone’s art is gorgeous in their head, right?). We shall see.

Anyway, when the rainbow effect didn’t pan out I tried changing the lines to solid blue, and suddenly it made me think of those 3-D books where the picture is printed in red, and then again in blue in a slightly different placement. I made a couple of quick tweaks and there you go – instant 3-D kaleidoscope artwork!

colorful kaleidoscope like artwork from video demonstration

Creating Kaleidoscope Art {time lapse video}

Don’t you love it when a project that’s been bouncing around your head for a long time finally comes to fruition? For a few months now, I’ve wanted to create a time-lapse video of the process I use for creating kaleidoscope art on my computer. The thing was, I wasn’t really sure how to go about it. After learning about Screenr, a free online service for recording screencasts on your PC or Mac, I got really excited. I had the tool, now I just needed the time (all you parents out their nodding your heads in agreement – can I get a “hell yeah!!!” ?)

Well, the art gods were kind to me yesterday, because my little munchkin took a three hour nap. This turned out to be doubly fortunate, because making the video was a rather slow process. The free version of Screenr only allows for five minutes of recording at a time (you can upgrade to a paid version for $20/month), so I had to work in five minute increments, uploading my video when the five minutes was up and then recording a new file.

I was also worried about how well my five year old Mac would handle a ton of large video files, so I had to limit how much I recorded. I can spend several hours on my more intricate kaleidoscope art, but I didn’t want hours of footage clogging up my desktop. This meant I had to make my image a little less complex than I normally would. After I completed my drawing in 6 five minute segments, I imported the files into imovie and increased the playback speed to 800x the original speed. Half hour hour of video footage down to just under four minutes!

colorful kaleidoscope like artwork from video demonstration

For my first attempt at something like this, I’m pretty happy with the result. It was definitely a learning experience, and something I want to do again in the near future.

Have you ever recorded your creative process? How did it turn out?

Rainbow Blossoms {Kaleidoscope Art}

pattern on rainbow kaleidoscope like circles

Wow…talk about complicated. The first time I tried to save this file as a jpg I got the Rainbow Pinwheel of Death for ten minutes and then my computer locked up. I wish you could see it here, but the detail at full size is absolutely crazy. So crazy that I think I’m going to have it available in my Etsy shop in a much larger size than normal. Most of my prints are 8″ x 8″, but I’m thinking that this might have to be 20″ x 20″, or maybe even larger. I always struggle a little bit with what size I should sell my prints at. One one hand, I want them to be affordable, but on the other I want to be able to show the huge amount of details I put into my work.

I want I would love to fill a whole wall or ceiling up with one of these. Make it super-uber-mega-complicated…and just stare.

Purple Blossom Art {it’s ok if you stare}

digital art of a kaleidoscope like mandala shape against a purple background

Have you ever created something you really loved in less than ten minutes? And afterwards it felt almost too easy? Like any good piece of artwork can only come after some epic struggle, featuring sleepless nights, cursing and exhausting?

Nah. Sometimes, it really IS that easy.

This picture was exactly what I needed, and I love it. I was having one of THOSE days. You know the ones. The kind of day where absolutely nothing catastrophically bad happens, yet EVERYTHING feels excruciatingly annoying. The cable won’t work. The baby won’t stop whining. You can’t get five minutes alone. You want to scream out your frustration over…everything and nothing, all at the same time.

The baby fell asleep, I jumped on the computer and just started playing, without too much thought as to what I was doing. All I knew was that I wanted to play around with transparent layers. After four of five false starts where I got halfway done and then scrapped the whole thing, I ended up with this.

I love it, and my head finally feels cleared. Sometimes art is awesome like that.