Cathedral Dome – One Week Time Lapse

Hello everyone. I finished another piece late last year, using the same basic color palette as Harlequin Iris. As the name of this piece suggests, it’s reminiscent of the type of designs found painted on ceilings inside domes.  You might not be able to tell, but the drawing is about a foot across, and the paper measures at 18″x 24″.

Step one to all my drawings is to pencil in the axes, then the basic structures. I use a compass and a straight edge for that. Then, I go over some of them in ink. It almost doesn’t matter which ones, as long as I am doing it consistently on each of the points or valleys. In this drawing, I wanted a lot of lines crossing at the same repeated angles, so parallel lines were important.

Getting the lines just right, taking your time, is important. It’s pretty easy to tell, visually, when your lines are off, so do them in pencil until you’re satisfied, then draw your ink line over the pencil line. You’d be surprised, but it actually takes me a few hours to get it to this point.

As you start committing more ink to the paper, things can get tricky. Deciding early on the style of the drawing you want and the elements to feature can be helpful. Here, you can see that I am starting to repeat the octagonal star inscribed inside. I’m also spacing the bold lines equidistant to give the appearance of parallel white lines.

Now, I decide on what kind of colors and textures I want. The creative possibilities are fun to play with. I like to go with a theme. Because I saw this piece as an evolution of Harlequin Iris (and somewhat of a series), I kept the same color palette ( black, brown, and a red-sepia). I also kept the textures the same, avoiding the pointillist shading techniques I usually use in favor of line shading.

Finally, as I decide on what parts to color or shade, I’ve got an eye on the black/white balance of the piece. It helps me to stand 15 feet away from the picture to see how [im]balanced it looks. This is something I wish I knew about when I started drawing because no matter how good the detailing looks, if the dark/light contrast isn’t good, it’s easily overlooked. Notice the difference, for example, between these next two pictures…

Here are a few angled and close up shots.

And here’s the final piece, signed.

I hope you enjoy it. Happy new year, friends!

Harlequin Iris

Right away I can tell there’s something different about this one compared to the last few I’ve done. Perhaps there’s more cohesion to it. That is, it looks less like a composite piece with different sections of patterns and more like a single graphic.  That effect was unintentional, serendipitous.

I used bold quarter-inch lines that run across the entire mandala. It made a pattern that reminded me of the center of succulents (plants). Here’s something cool… you can trace the entire scaffold of the mandala without picking up your pen.

Here, the classic Harlequin pattern emerges from the detail lines. The checkered diamond look appears automatically as evenly spaced lines are placed in an angled grid. A perpendicular grid would give us a checkered square look.

With the larger structures drawn, it was time to start the detail lines.  This is one of my favorite parts of the process.  You can be as creative or algorithmic as you want to be and let your mind pour out through your pen.

Should I add color? By this point, I had changed my mind several times about whether I should put some color in this piece. Ultimately, I chose a dark red and dark brown and used it only in small patches.


Here are a few of the close ups…


This one’s called Spanner. I very much liked how “The Emerald Sun” turned out, and I wanted to do another piece with asymmetrical coloring but on a symmetrical black scaffolding. This was the result…

It’s named Spanner because the bold black lines reminded me of the ironwork on old railroad bridges in the Midwest. Here are the photos from my work as it progressed.  Enjoy!

The Emerald Sun “Time Lapse” Drawing

This piece is called “The Emerald Sun,” and represents the third in a series.

I finished The Sapphire Sun and The Ruby Sun about a year ago. When I drew them, I was new to drawing mandalas and   they were of simpler designs.  This one, however, incorporates elements that I have been working on.

For example, it is the first piece that blends both symmetrical and asymmetrical parts into a cohesive whole. The earliest mandalas I drew had strict symmetry along an axis. My first asymmetrical piece, Vortex Aperture, started the beginning of a new style for me.

This 32-pointed asymmetric mandala focuses on the dynamic, changing nature of all things.

In “The Emerald Sun,” I wanted to incorporate the illusion of movement caused by that repeated assymetrical design into the same type of scaffolding I used in the earlier “Sun” pieces.

“The Emerald Sun” is the third in a series and the first to feature assymetrical coloring to enhance the three-dimensional feel and movement to the eye.

Here are my photographs of my work in progress over four days, taken about once every three hours.

Free Shipping on Frames

I’ve had the site running for a few months, and while building up can take some time, it’s been rewarding nonetheless to connect with an audience. Drawing has long been a solitary pursuit for me, sometimes an act of meditation or catharsis and sometimes pure recreation. In these ways, it’s been fulfilling, but through the site,  I’ve found further fulfillment in seeing what starts out as a quick idea or image in my mind end up as a piece of art on someone’s wall.

Several of you have been kind enough to send images of Mandala Effect Art prints framed and mounted on the wall. I thought I’d share them here on the blog especially since it’s sometimes hard to picture in one’s mind how a piece will look once it’s framed.

This is Harmonic Concentration, a 20 inch square image, in a black wooden frame without a mat.

Harmonic Concentration, a 64-axis of symmetry mandala, in a simple but elegant presentation.

And here’s the Yang Shield, a 12-inch by 16-inch image, hanging in the hallway of a customer.

The Yang Shield

And finally, while it’s not yet mounted on the wall, here’s a customer’s framed copy of Snowflake Inside.  It’s one of the few pieces I have on my own walls.

Earlier this week, I reviewed Gemline Frames, a budget frame company, and while the product was passable, I couldn’t recommend it with confidence. One of my customers found a seller whose frames are inexpensive, reasonably well built, and whose shipping comes free via Amazon Prime. (I have no connection to any frame companies, art supply companies, or with Amazon – other than the fact that I sometimes buy stuff from them.)  The frames linked here run anywhere from $25 to $43, depending on the dimensions and are offered in a few styles and materials.


Gemline Frame Not a Gem

Good evening friends. It’s been a few months since the last post. I took a little break to get some things in order. There were some repairs to my roof that have taken much longer than I  would have imagined, and I also needed to take some continuing education courses for my bar license which is, thankfully, now up to date.

I spent Thanksgiving weekend with my mom, sister, and friends. It was nice having a lot of time with them. We shared an ordinate amount of food. We shared intimate conversations. We celebrated. And perhaps we intoxicated some as well.

As every American is aware, the day after Thanksgiving, merchants put their goods on sale to tempt the American consumer into spending wages. It is my family’s tradition to assiduously avoid the entire scene. Only this year, my mom insisted that we go shopping because I had mentioned earlier in the week that I had run out of certain art supplies. As well, several months ago, I gifted her a number of my prints for which she now needed frames.

I decided to purchase an off-the-shelf budget frame for review on the site. As it turns out, while there are many “standard” frame sizes (typically with sides having an even number of inches) many of them aren’t commonly carried by art supply or even frame stores. So while you might not have to resort to an expensive custom frame for a 20×20 print, you may spend a little bit of time locating one.

Gemline Frame 24×30

This one cost $36.99.   The materials are unfinished wood and plexiglass (clear plastic) with stainless steel mounting equipment: eyelets, screws and a cable.

The packaging wasn’t very well thought out. While the cardboard corner protectors were a good idea, they were a fixed by staples punched directly into the wooden frame.  I used a pair of pliers to get them out.

There were minor manufacturing flaws  as some of the corners did not join neatly.   The gaps in the corners are, however, less noticeable from the front. As you can see, in the pictures below, the staples appear strained holding the frame together.

Finally, there was a design flaw as the screws included in the mounting kit pushed the wood in the frame apart.  As you can see, I was only able to get the screw about 3/4 of the way in. In order to get the screw  all the way in without splitting the wood, you need to use a drill. I didn’t like that because the frame is not that thick, and it would be easy to punch directly through the front of the frame.

It took me about 15 minutes to get the picture in the frame, and I was pleasantly surprised at how good it looked when it was finished.  While the Gemline frame was cheaply made, it was also cheaply sold, and it does fulfill the requirements of a frame in protecting the art and enhancing it’s aesthetic qualities.

Hopefully, in the near future, I will be able to review some frames that I can recommend with confidence.


Mesmerizing Effect

Whenever I do a drawing with 32 or more lines of symmetry, I find myself falling into a strange hypnotic state as my eyes move over the paper.  It’s as if the geometries represented by the actions of my pen are reaching through to capture my attention.

I started this piece, “Endless Center,” as an exploration into the middle of a kaleidoscopic visual, a fractal continually blossoming from its center. It was important for me to have a highly detailed outer rim because that suggests a center densely packed with geometries yet to be revealed.

And here’s the final piece, “Endless Center”.  It took about three weeks to draw.

“Folk Imprint” Now Available

I’m pleased to announce that my piece, “Folk Imprint” is now available as a print in the gallery.  This is one of my favorite pieces to date as it incorporates almost all the techniques I’ve developed in previous mandalas.  It’s the second drawing I’ve completed with a shifting symmetry design.  As you can see, the outer ring has 64-points, but the inner ring has 4 points.  Depending on the distance from the center, there are variously 4, 8, 16, 32, or 64 lines of symmetry.  Click here to see the scanned version (rather than seeing it from the angled view below).

Folk Imprint (Ink 2017)

Prints of Rose Helianth Available

The art reproduction company has finished scanning mymost time intensive piece to date, Rose Helianth. Prints are now available! 

Rose Helianth, a 16-point star without symmetry inspired by roses and sun flowers.

I started it before my trip out east earlier this summer, and I finished it a few weeks after the trip.  It took a long time, in part, because of how large it is (24×30 inches) and also because and the elements are quite small and detailed.

If you missed the drawing in progress, check out these previous posts showing the drawing in the various stages of completion.

Rose Helianth – first blog post

Rose Helianth – second blog post

Rose Helianth – third blog post