the magic of mandalas {blog hop}

intuitive mandala art journling, Hali Karla Artsintuitive mandala detail, Hali Karla Arts

I've been making mandalas in one way or another for a long time. For the last couple of years, it's been when the mood strikes, and most often with paint, pen or pastels as part of my creative journaling - like the one above. It is one of the many ways my creative practice becomes a contemplative one, and a place of rest and healing.

There was a time before that, though, when making mandalas in a completely different way helped me through some overwhelming years - a time when it felt to me that life had steered me totally away from being an artist. I spent a lot of time those days exploring trails and gardens with my camera. I was a nurse by night, and a ravenous seeker of nature's healing beauty by day. My Canon was always with me, and I would come home with hundreds of photographs to sort through.

I wanted to do something with the images, but I've never been much of a scrapper - and this was long before I started blogging. I would print out my photos and cut them up to play with them on the page a bit... until I found myself piecing together mandala-like objects from the photos, and I began thinking about kaleidoscopes. But, I'll be honest, I didn't have a lot of spare energy back then to 'complete' most creative ideas, and it still felt like too much to be so tedious with my hands and time (think: new marriage and state + highly stressful, time-consuming, new job + lots of confusion and not enough sleep).

At the time, there were some tutorials about piecing together images in photoshop for mandalas - but even that felt like too much screen time. With a little searching and creative curiosity, though, I stumbled upon an unlikely source of quick mandala magic, and for the next couple of years, I continued to ease my stifled creative energy through almost instantaneous mandalas, created from my beloved nature-walk photographs, like these ones:

mandalas created from original photos by Hali Karla

I created lots of these in those days, with very little effort. Everytime I clicked a button, a new mandala was revealed from my photograph like pure eye candy.

How did I do it?

A software program for quilters. It was intended to be used for pattern-making - and it just happened to create mandalas in excellent resolution - even though it wasn't intended for photographic use at all. I even used the software without ever learning how to control the outcome - every click brought about a completely unplanned kaleidoscope of nature (the above images were created from magnolia seed pods, a wildflower garden, and the most gorgeous mossy tree).

There are so many ways to create mandalas - paint, pen, collaging, digitally, with sticks, twigs or sand, whatever you can imagine - but for me, what draws me back to the practice again and again is the sense of calm possibility that can happen in a circle, be it perfectly round or honestly imperfect. All it takes is a little repetition and the willingness to step outside the ordinary challenges of life and into the simply-simmering magic of intuition and surprise.

A big thank you to Andrea Schroeder for hosting this beautiful round-up of mandala-makers...

mandala blog hop

The Magic of Mandalas Blog Hop is a radically inspiring sharing circle, with artists from around the globe sharing the stories behind their process of creating mandalas. Our mission: To inspire you to see new possibilities for your own creative practice.

Click here to discover new artists, soak up new ideas and fill up on creative inspiration to fuel your creative practice.