Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Randomized Mandala

For a number of years I’ve been using mandala-making in my workshops as a method for quickly creating large-scale artwork.

Mandalas have a number of features which make them ideal for this use. For starters, you can take practically any element, like a line or dots or spirals or whatever, and as long as it is repeated with regularity around a central point, it will look intentional. Keep adding elements and building outwards and voila! This is helpful when I’m working with art novices for whom coming up with a compelling completed artwork from scratch could be a daunting task. It allows me to work with any number of people and have each person’s creation be unique. Collaboration between multiple participants can easily be incorporated with each person taking turns adding new elements.

The first thing that is needed is a framework. For a mandala the framework can be a series of circles and a few spokes. The number of each is not so important. The framework will not be visible in the final creation (unless desired)- rather it serves as a guide to staying even in placing and sizing new elements.

So we might start with a framework like this. Then, for any element that is added, decide where it is going, how large it will be, and then repeat the positioning for as many times as the circle has been divided by spokes. Keep adding new elements in a similar manner.

Sometimes deciding what to add next can be a stumbling block, especially during a workshop when there isn’t much time for designing. A new twist I have added is using a dice guide:
So, by rolling the dice (or going to this site which will give randomized numbers), whatever the dice comes up with your job then is to incorporate the new element. There are no rules for how the element is added- as many or as few as desired, inverted or sideways, large or small, filled in or left open. The great part about this system is that even though it is prescriptive in telling you what to do, it leaves open tremendous room for creativity. 

The guide can be any elements you decide, and there can be as many as desired (using the randomizing link for numbers not found on dice)

Here’s a go I had at using this system using a slightly more complex framework:

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