mandala art by Stephanie Smith
Making mandala art is healing, transformative, and addicting – just ask mandala artist Stephanie Smith, who has created over 1500 mandalas in the past 4 years!
Stephanie uses a variety of painting and drawing materials to create her detailed mandalas. She also thinks out of the box and fashions anything she happens to find into impromptu mandalas, with often whimsical results. On this page you'll see examples of both.
Join us for this inspiring interview with Stephanie as she explains why she finds mandalas so fascinating, and find out how she can help you free your creative spirit by making mandalas!
When did you first start making mandalas?
I believe it was at the beginning of January 2007 after seeing a fellow artist post a mandala that he had made on the photo sharing website Flickr. Created freehand with colored markers, he explained that it was a meditation to be completed in one sitting – that you started at the center and worked your way out. Over 1500 mandalas later… here I am!
Why do you create mandalas?
Initially, I think I was yearning for an expressive way to connect to a higher part of myself.
Why do you encourage others to create them?
When you don’t have a specific art background (like me), it can be difficult to give yourself permission to just create. From Day One, my process makes art accessible to everyone. I want people to feel the same sense of accomplishment that I did after doodling a mandala for an hour. That, “I did something meditative and introspective and just maybe, I made something that looks interesting – but either way, it felt good to let go and just create without judgment.”
Why do you sometimes incorporate words or mantras into your mandalas?
When working with patterns in a concentric fashion, it becomes rhythmic, meditative, and you can really allow stress to fall away. I find that if there is a specific thing I want to pray or meditate upon to bring into my life, I find it helpful to use words in the mandala such as, “Releasing Fear Releasing Fear Releasing Fear” incorporating them in such a way that you are not just thinking them, but writing them, creating art with them – which can be reflected upon at a later time. These words become your mantra. I myself have been a big fan of chanting and writing mantras for the last six years. Mantras such as “Ra Ma Da Sa Sa Say So Hung” (A Tibetan healing mantra) and “Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha” (a Hindu devotional for removing obstacles) are some of my favorites.
What kinds of materials/mediums do you use to create your mandalas?
Oh, I’ll use just about anything within arms reach. :) But my preferences would be (on paper) fountain pens, colored pencils, Pitt markers, (brush & regular) Japanese calligraphy markers, watercolor, Neocolor II crayons and most recently, acrylic paint. I enjoy working on paper and have a plethora of sketchbooks in various sizes. I’ve used craft paint to paint large mandalas on walls and glass doors, chalk on pavement, sand drawings with sticks, assemblages with stones and seashells.
Check out some of the inventive materials Stephanie has used to create mandalas
Do you have a favorite medium for creating mandalas?
Probably whatever I’m specifically into at the moment - which can vary from day to day or week to week as I seem to go in phases. These days, I love to paint with flat black gesso over brightly colored backgrounds of acrylic, colored pencil or watercolor.
Please tell us about your mandala workshops.
“Mandala: An Artful Meditation” is an interactive personal growth workshop where I guide people to tap into that higher part of themselves by using a meditative art process which is the mandala. I provide a safe space where the participants can create without the fear of judgment. Through encouragement and positive reinforcement, my hope is for people to walk away from the experience feeling as though they can now give themselves permission to be creative – something that many adults without formal art training can find to be a challenge.
Do you have any advice for people who want to create mandalas on their own?
Most definitely! Anyone can create a mandala. The hardest part is releasing self-judgments pertaining to the quality of the work. If you let go of the idea of having to have some kind of perfect finished product and instead focus on the creation of the piece itself, you have tapped into something quite marvelous. By letting go, you allow yourself to have fun and be creative.
Just make a mark in the center of a piece of paper and work around it in radiating concentric patterns. Don’t think about what you are doing – just choose simple lines and marks and before long, you will have filled the page and will find yourself reaching for another.
Very few people are born with natural artistic talent and must attend some form of additional schooling if they wish to enhance technique. But to me, art isn’t about technique – it’s about expression. It’s knowing that whatever you bring to the table is enough. That you get an “A” for simply showing up and that for trying, you are enough.
Like any action in life that you repeat, you do get a little better each time you flex that muscle. In time, (if it even matters to you) your lines will get straighter and your circles rounder. Just let go and get creative!
Check out Stephanie's TED Talk below where she discusses:
"Art as a Spiritual Practice: What I've Learned from Making 10,000 Mandalas"
Thank you, Stephanie, for this fascinating peek into your world of mandala-making!
You can see more of Stephanie's mandala art on her blog, Spiritual Evolution of the Bean, where she displays her mandalas, writes about her spiritual journey, and shares informative reviews on various art supplies. She also posts her mandalas and other artwork on flickr.
If you're interested in purchasing one of Stephanie's original mandalas, check out her etsy shop.
Stephanies runs Mandala Workshops for individuals and groups, large and small. No previous art experience is required!
She also has a YouTube channel full of mandala art-making videos, such as this one: