Thursday, April 25, 2013


The word mandala is Sanskrit and it has something to do with circles. Mandalas are made by different cultures to convey messages. Some are designed to be impermanent. They are made with colored sand and, eventually, swept away. That is to give a visual reminder that all things on this earth are impermanent and that they will eventually be swept away.
Other mandalas are meant to last longer. It will take more time for them to be swept away into the mists of time.
Mandalas are ways for people to share visually what is in their hearts at the moment of their making. They can be realistic or whimsical or abstract. There is no right or wrong when it comes to creating a mandala.
Today, I painted a mandala. I was thinking about the earth because it is spring. On the 13th of this month, I planted trees and I was happy to dig into the earth and to place a tree into it so that, eventually, it could give shade to someone. I don't think a whole lot about the future normally but, when I'm planting trees, I think about people in the future enjoying all of that nice shade. I was thinking about bird songs and leaves and sunlight and soil and worms and all of that stuff.
I was thinking about circles and shapes... and painting the negative shapes instead of the images... so I did... and here it is...
My brown earth full of bubbles of life... my mandala

Monday, April 15, 2013

Cherry blossom time in Washington, D.C.

My trip to Washington, D.C., couldn't have come at a better time. I had planned the trip a few months ago and the purpose was to go to the School of the Americas Watch Days of Action (take a look at School of the Americas Watch website).

A few weeks ago, my sister Vivian pointed out that I would be able to see the cherry blossoms! And she was right. During my week in Washington, D.C., I went to the Tidal Basin four times! And not only did I see the cherry blossoms, I had the good fortune of having a painting partner, a professional artist named Deb Van Poolen. Take a look at her website!

Anyway, Deb and I listened to delightful music and we painted. The weather was warm and sunny. Um. It actually got to be a little bit too warm. Is there such a thing as "too warm"? Yeah, well, it was hot. It hit 90 degrees twice when I was in Washington, D.C. I was not prepared for the toasty weather. And the tree pollen was flying around. Oh boy, did I sneeze! And my eyes were itchy! But what the heck! I'd rather sneeze than freeze!!! Hahaha!

Back to the Tidal Basin. The music was great. I especially liked the trombone section from the symphony orchestra. Trombones are awesome. But what I loved the most was a flamenco band and dancers. That was music to inspire creativity. And then, my "feverish imagination" (my teacher in journalism school said that I have a feverish imagination; I didn't have the... um... imagination to come up with that) kicked in. I fell madly in love with the guitarist. Maybe with the music. Or maybe with the guitarist. Oh!!! Spanish classical guitar and art!!! What could be better than that.

We had two painting sessions at the Tidal Basin. I painted three pictures in my (handy dandy) visual journal. Here they are:

I made this painting on Saturday, April 6th. At this point, the trees had not yet reached their peak. Many of the flowers were still closed. I liked the combination of open and closed flowers. The open ones represented the beauty of the season, and the closed ones indicated the promise of beauty yet to come.

I included my hand and the sprig of flowers in this painting. It felt good to embrace the new life of spring like this.

I made this painting on Thursday, April 11th.It was my last full day in the city. The blossoms had peaked just a few days earlier, and they were still gorgeous. This one is a mixed media painting. I used watercolor paint, markers, and acrylic paint to create the scene.