Category Archives: Drawing

Art as Therapy

Young people have lots of emotion, and sometimes need lots and lots of paper. Thank goodness for art!



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Art Game: Mandala Challenge


After creating mandalas individually at Art Club, we played an art game: each starts with a blank paper, and we take turns calling out what the next “ring” of the mandala will include. Of course, despite the system, each one came out wonderfully unique:








The last one is mine, because I couldn’t resist joining them–who could? Unfortunately, a few artists left before I could get a picture of their mandalas.

 Can you spot the fish, sandwiches, water and hearts in each mandala?



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Young Artists Create Freestyle Mandalas



I love mandalas in whatever form they take, however temporary or permanent, colorful, simple, filled with words or My Little Ponies or scribbles. My hunch was right that the young artists would enjoy them, too, and create some beautiful designs. 

I showed them some Tibetan mandalas online, and my freehand samples:

The young artists’ creations:


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Freestyle Mandalas


Mandalas have long been a favorite of mine—etched, embroidered, drawn, painted, inked, done with full focus or my eyes half-shut. Mandalas are good medicine for a lot of troubles, very meditative and methodical—even when asymmetrical.

There are many collections of mandalas to be found online, and I admire them for their symmetry and precision. There may be some drooling, yes. And how cool is this coloring book? Wow.

I don’t use a circular template (which has rather small circles) or a drawing compass, because freehand makes my heart sing. I’d go slightly insane if I tried for mandala perfection, so I enjoy artistic irregularity to the fullest. I was happily surprised to find other beautiful mandalas that are freehand.


I’ve been gathering mandalas I’ve created to show the 6-10 year old kids at Art Club for an upcoming class. I’m sharing some of them here first, and remembering all my many, many mandalas drawn on clothing, postcards, letters, disposable napkins, walls (legally, of course), menus, train schedules and play bills that I’ve lost track of. Maybe they’re still out in the world somewhere…





Aside from recent embroidery projects, the majority of my mandalas have been monotone, usually black ink using Koh-I-Noor Rapidographs—my best friends for many years (in a totally not sad way). But for the Art Club session on mandalas, I’m working on samples that would have pleased every person (there were a lot) during my teen years who said “Why don’t you try color? Just a little wouldn’t hurt, right?” That I like black ink never seemed to make an impression. Ah well.IMG_20150111_085439


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Eye Heart Ewe


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November 24, 2014 · 9:00 am

Spirit Animals


Spirit Animals at Art Club! I’ve been loving the advice and illustrations in Power Animals: How to Connect with Your Animal Spirit Guide by Steven Farmer, so naturally I brought that to the kids, masters at loving animals and nature, feeling connections everywhere. We discussed favorite animals, what we like about them, and how we can feel connected to a kind of animal for reasons we understand, and maybe reasons we aren’t aware of. Either way is a-okay.

20141110_162813I provided about twenty different books with animals images, including animal encyclopedias and guides, and… There Is a Bird On Your Head! by Mo Willems, just because I can. Didn’t want the kids to think they had to draw realistically. That is not my style. And so we ended up with some realistic animals, plus an unicorn pegasus, a cyclops cat, an angry sea elephant, and a saber tooth whale. Variety, people.

I drew a few samples from one of my favorite spirit animals: one realistic raccoon, a spiraly-funky raccoon, then a very colorful silly one. During class, I answered calls for help by sketching alongside–a manatee, sea grass, and a barn swallow. At times, watching someone draw an animal (on their own paper, mind) can be just what a young artist needs to make his own come out well.

A lot of spirit animals came out of that group of six lively young artists (click to enlarge):

















Filed under Artist/Author, Books & Media, Drawing, Painting & Mixed Media

Never Ending Art


20141104_130717I guess it’s really time to show the Finished Kitchen Cart. It’s been a while since I first wrote about this family art collaborative, surely long enough to have it done. Yep.


 Thing is, living in a family of artists, not only are we still drawing on it, finding empty spaces now on the sides and legs, but the young artists have also begun drawing over what they’ve already done. Layers of creativity, of paint pens and designs.

From afar it looks like chaos, but looking closely you see so many little moments, secrets, signs. My Little Pony portraits. A pitched tent. Rainbows of stars. Strong-Strong from Zita the Spacegirl squeezed in by a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle speaking Love. There is so much of my young artists’ personalities in this project, it has become my favorite thing in the house. A family heirloom nobody else could create.


All this is to say, it may never be done. I can picture them coming home to visit as adults and adding another doodle. Seriously. And I will have paint markers ready, just in case.


So here is our trash-found treasure, once a kitchen cart, now an Art Cart. It’s got math, monsters, ponies, camping trips, stars, spirals, lizards, faces, video game mentions (Dust), and a lot of color, love, and time put into it.



Filed under Collaborative Art, Drawing, Home Art