how-to, mandalas, monthly mandala challenges

July Mandala Challenge – Pattern Play

Mandalas with all of their shapes and spaces lend themselves well for drawing repeating patterns. In this challenge, Kathryn Costa invites you to play with the design principle, repetition. Watch this quick video to see examples of how patterns can easily add detail and beauty to your mandalas.


How to Enter

  1. Draw a mandala.
    You may also use one of the many coloring pages found in the members library of the Sharing Circle. Be sure to select a mandala with lots of open spaces.
    Get your entry counted twice if you create a mandala from the Drawing I course.
  2. Fill the mandala with repeating patterns. Color is encouraged.
  3. Scan or photograph your art.
  4. Post your entry in the Sharing Circle. It’s a free membership website for mandala enthusiasts. Join Here.

    Deadline to enter is July 31, 2018.
    Winner will be announced August 8, 2018.

  5. No limit to the number of entries.See Contest Rules


One person will be randomly selected to win a copy of The Great Zentangle Book by Beate Winkler

Related Links

The Mandala Guidebook – Refer to chapter 4 for pattern ideas.

Mandala Drawing I – Learn how to draw the mandalas featured in this video. 10 video lessons under 10 minutes each. Perfect for those who are just beginning, experienced mandala makers looking for more mandala design options, and tangle enthusiasts in search of a drawing practice that compliments their love for pattern play.

Color I Course – If your color confidence is low, this color course gives you an introduction to creating color harmony. Includes product demos to learn how to use a variety of mediums popular among mandala enthusiasts.

The Zentangle® Method

My Favorite Supplies

Here is a short list of my favorite supplies and the one’s that I used to create the mandalas that you see in the video.

Note: These links will take you to Amazon where I’m an affiliate. I receive a small commission for each sale at no extra charge to you. Your purchases help support the work of this site and provides art supplies for demos and prizes.

Drawing Mandalas


Coloring Mandalas

Faber-Castell Pitt Pens – India Ink

TomBow – Water-based brush pens

Spectrum Noir – Alcohol markers

Micron Fineliners

Marvy LePen Fineliners

Uni-Ball Signo Gel Pen – My favorite white gel pen. The broad point works best.

Faber-Castell Polychromos Colored Pencils

Prismacolor Colored Pencils


Blending Stumps (aka Tortillons)


Mandala Meditation: Jupiter Yantra



Dr. Wayne Dyer was right. There is a power in our intentions.

For my yantra series, I decided to work next with the Jupiter Yantra. Sarah Tomlinson writes in her book, Coloring Yantras, “This yantra is associated with the planet Jupiter, which – as the largest planet in our solar system – imparts a sense of vastness and an openness to new possibilities. The name Jupiter in Sanskrit means “the one who removes the darkness and brings light.”

My intention in creating this yantra was to open up to new ways of expanding my business and using my skills and talents in service for the highest good of all. Even before I drew a single line, I found myself following a trail of thoughts that led to exciting new ideas.

Creating this yantra coincided with the full moon this week. I’ve been studying the astrological archetypes and following the lunar cycles. The full moon in Capricorn – ruled by the planet Saturn – is about making plans and being disciplined to see them through.

As I colored this yantra, I found myself writing down detailed lists to plan the next steps in my husband’s new venture as well as projects that I’m currently developing. In the spirit of Capricorn, the question is what do I need to do each day to see these ideas through?

I look at this predominantly yellow yantra and I’m reminded of the Manipura chakra. “I can,” a phrase associated with this chakra echoes in my head as I look at the yantra. I do believe that I can and I will.


Sitting on my work table is this beautiful shell. Its silver spiral reminds me of Stage Three Turning Towards the Journey in the Great Round Series. It’s the stage we experience when we are ready to start something new. That something new may be a project, career change, or even a move. It may be welcoming a new baby or grandchild, starting a new course of study, or picking up a new hobby. Here we can see the silver spiral in the shell as a path leading outward or inward depending on how you look at it. In my case as I’m looking to expand my business, it’s an outward journey.

I see another path in this photo in the trail of twinkle lights reflected in the glass in the framed yantra. In many ways, I feel as though I’m connecting many dots as I follow my curiosity about many subjects. Here the dotted path is illuminated and reassures me that I’m heading in the right direction.

Now it’s your turn.

Whether you draw this yantra or another mandala or even pull out a mandala from a coloring book, you can add light to any situation that you are encountering. It all comes down to your intention and being open to listening to the wisdom of your soul. Use golds, silver, yellows, and white to color the mandala of your choosing. Follow your thoughts as you color. You may want to have a notebook or piece of paper to record your experience.

Sharing Circle

Join me and other mandala enthusiasts in the Sharing Circle. It’s a free membership website for posting your mandala art and reflections. Each month I host a challenge that’s designed to inspire your creative practice.

Member Log-in

Join Today.

Related Links

Mandala Meditation: Ganesh Yantra

Coloring Yantras by Sarah Tomlinson

Power of Intention by Wayne Dyer

Great Round Course



how-to, mandalas

Learn How to Interpret Your Mandalas


Every time I sit before the circle, a new adventure awaits me.

I may start a mandala with a specific pattern or color palette in mind. Invariably as I’m drawing the mandala, a new idea pops into my head, “hmmm, what if I try this?” Then there are times when I goof in drawing a pattern. I roll with it and the design changes course.

I’ve been creating mandalas for over 18 years. You may be wondering, “Are you still getting joy from creating mandalas?

The short answer is yes.

The long answer lies in how each mandala that we create is a reflection of our Self. Within the patterns, colors and shapes that we use to create our mandalas, we can learn a lot about ourselves. The mandala is like a map of our unconscious, our internal landscape of thoughts, emotions, memories, and inner wisdom.

While I delight in learning new ways to construct and color mandalas (the art of mandala making), it’s the expressive and contemplative aspect of creating mandalas that I believe will hold my attention for a lifetime.


To illustrate how our mandalas can hold personal meaning for us, let’s compare these two mandalas. At first glance we can see some very big differences. The mandala on the left is very orderly with a symmetrical pattern. The colors are vibrant and strong. In contrast, the mandala on the right is organic, irregular, and has soft colors.

Each mandala was created in very different times in my life. The first mandala was created recently as part of a color study where the palette was inspired by a pot of beautiful spring flowers. The orderly pattern of the mandala reflects how I’m working on a project and towards a goal. The vibrant colors mirror my high energy and ability to focus.


This second mandala was created at a time in my life after a period of grieving. I hadn’t felt creative for ten months or more. My energy was low and I was considering quitting my blog and pulling the plug on social media. Buried deep within those feelings was a desire to rekindle my creativity.

When I created this mandala, it was the first mandala in several years and it was drawn spontaneously and intuitively. I started with the heart in the center using watercolor paints and a black felt tip pen. The drawing emerged with little thought or plan. In the process, I observed my thoughts and recorded my reflections in the area outside of the mandala.


After drawing this mandala, I spent some time looking at it and reflecting on what it meant to me. Here I saw my heart at the center, a place to focus on for guidance. The little dots around the heart look like seeds. I wrote, “Each circle around the heart is like a seed, each one holding potential projects, skills yet to learn, new experiences, new relationships.”

The many hearts feel like my support system of friends and family. The dashed lines in between the pink vertical lines create a basket like pattern and here I see how I was weaving my dreams. When I was drawing the semi-circle and the outer edge, I felt uncomfortable with how it was irregular and not a perfect circle. I wrote, “It reflects how I’m pushing the boundaries of where I’m at.”

Without any instruction, I was intuitively exploring the meaning of my mandalas.

One may look at this mandala and think it is awkward and even ugly. I look at this mandala and it reflects a turning point in my life where I began a new journey of listening to my heart and using mandalas as road maps for healing.

In the margins, I see where I wrote about my curiosity to learn more about the work of Carl Jung and the practice of creating mandalas for personal insight. Six months later, I took a deep dive into this study and opened up to a whole new practice of creating mandalas for self expression.


I discovered the work of Susanne Fincher and a fascinating framework called, “The Great Round” that explores twelve psychological stages that we all experience many times in our lives. I have worked through all of the stages six times, twice in my studies with Fincher and four times facilitating it for others. Each time, I uncover new things about myself.


Crazy Quilt Mandala

My latest “a-ha” came when I created this Crazy Quilt Mandala, a project from Susanne Fincher’s book, “The Mandala Workbook.”

This exercise is to explore Stage 11 called “Falling Apart” and reflects those times in our lives when changes have happened and we may feel disoriented and our familiar routines are disrupted or shattered. The change can be triggered by a natural disaster and we’ve lost our homes, an unexpected health diagnosis, promotion to a new position, or new ways of being that come with graduation, marriage, retirement, etc.

The first step in this exercise is to draw a circle and to randomly draw lines to break it up. I love to doodle, so I added additional patterns within each of the spaces. To color my mandala, I decided on a section that I would work on next and close my eyes and randomly select a colored marker. As you can imagine, I worked with colors and color combinations that I would never pick. This random approach is a good way of breaking patterns in how we work with color. While I found some of the results ugly, I made a couple of discoveries too.

The next step, is to cut out the mandala and then tear or cut it up into many random pieces. I was curious to see if there would be any sweet spots or interesting intersections of patterns and colors in the cut up pieces. Sure enough there was and they were highlighted when I completed the final step which was to arrange the pieces in a circular pattern on black paper. I was really surprised by how much I liked all of the colors set against black and in this new arrangement.


I had so much fun with this exercise that I pulled out some mandalas that I didn’t like and cut them up to create something new. The pieces almost look like stained glass set against the black paper. I loved how my opinions of the colors and patterns changed in each of these mandalas.

By arranging the pieces around a center point to create the suggestion of a circle, the results remind me of shattered glass. There is in each of these mandalas a feeling of movement.

This process of constructing something new after it has been destroyed illustrates how often we can’t welcome something new without something getting lost or changed along the way. In life, we may be changed by life circumstances and our lives may look completely different, but within us there are the memories. lessons learned, and perhaps new skills acquired. All is not lost.

Now for some who tried this exercise, they felt resistance in working with colors they did not like or felt uncomfortable with cutting up their mandala art.

The idea of not getting attached to the art and beauty that we create reminds me of the Tibetan Buddhist ritual of creating sand mandalas. Several monks will work painstakingly on constructing a beautiful mandala, one grain of sand at a time. At the end of the week, they ceremoniously sweep up the sand and release it in a nearby body of water. To see this process watch the video above.

Do you get attached to your mandala art? Sometimes I see students get attached to not only the beauty they create but more often they get attached to what they perceive as ugly art. They focus on perfection, creating perfectly straight or curved lines, at the expense of enjoying the process. It’s easy to get caught up in the striving and doing and lose sight of the joys of being in the moment.

I admit to feeing some resistance at the thought of working through a mandala lesson called, “Falling apart.” No one wants to feel like they don’t have control. What surprises me every time I show up for this lesson, is that I discover my child-like sense of play and curiosity in destructing the mandalas. There is a feeling of freedom and possibility. As I love piecing together puzzles, reconstructing the mandala felt much like a puzzle only better as I get to decide how the pieces go back into place.

My takeaway from Stage 11: Falling Apart, lies in these questions, “Can I bring curiosity and play into my life the next time I face uncertainty and when familiar routines are thrown off?” “Can I trust that not all is lost when things in my life radically change?”

GreatRound-2018-OverviewIf this sounds like a fascinating way to create mandalas, I invite you to join me for my next round of the Great Round. I’m really excited for it as I plan on taking the course as a participant (also while facilitating it). I now have the course lessons all dialed in after three years of study and work. I love how the video lessons for each stage turned out.

I’m eager to explore these stages in light of my big milestone, I’m turning 50 years old this summer. I’m curious to explore what needs my attention and to let go of any limiting beliefs that no longer serve me as I step into this next decade. Each time I go through the cycle, I see new things as I’m in a different place each time.

I’d love for you to join me and discover the adventures that the circle has to offer you.

Here are some details.

Great Round Online Course

Lessons run August 26, 2018 to December 9, 2018
Closing the Circle Celebration: January 2019 (date to be determined)

Instructor Led Course – Facilitated by Kathryn Costa.

15 Video Lessons – We cover 12 topics and there are over 100 mandala projects to choose from. Each lesson explores how colors, numbers, and symbols relate to the topics.

New for 2018! Twelve videos, one for each Stage plus supplemental videos on “How to Interpret Your Mandala” and “Introduction & Overview of the Great Round.” Each week a new lesson is released. Log in when it is convenient for you to watch the video lessons, download resources, and to post your mandala art.

100+ Mandala Projects – For each lesson there are several mandala projects for you to choose from to explore the topic. No art experience required.

4 Show &  Tell Webinars – We’ll meet live using Zoom to see and discuss the mandala art that you’ve created. This is a wonderful opportunity to connect with other mandala enthusiasts who share your curiosity for exploring the meaning of our mandalas. There is a lot of wisdom shared and everyone feels a sense of community by participating in these events. If you can’t attend live, a recording will be available.

Times will vary and will be scheduled based on the time zones of where participants live to reach as many people as possible. The webinar schedule will be determined after the first week of the course.


Handouts, References, Supplements – Beautifully designed helpful resources.

All this for only $75.


Not ready to buy but want to learn more? READ THIS.

mandalas, offerings

Mandala Meditation: Ganesh Yantra


“Where do you get all of your ideas?”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this question. I’ve been known to say, “Inspiration is everywhere.”

I think I’ll add to that statement, “Inspiration is everywhere. Look around you.” Thinking more about this, it’s more than looking around you. It’s about getting curious. It’s one thing to see something, it’s another to ask, “Why?” or “What if?”

I have a long list of topics that I’m currently exploring. I can never study just one thing. My mind loves devouring several topics at once and making connections between them.

One of my long time interests has been in exploring the meaning of our mandalas. The colors, shapes, symbols, and how they are arranged can tell us a lot about where we are in the moment. There are long standing traditions where mandalas are created with specific symbols and colors. One such tradition that I’ve been curious to learn more about is the Hindu yantras.

The earliest yantras date back 1,000 BCE in northern India. Throughout the ages, sacred teachings have been shared through mantras (sound vibrations) and yantras (visual representations).

The basic shape of a yantra is a circle with a ring of lotus petals. At the center, is a geometric pattern often with one or more triangles around a central dot. The entire shape is contained within a square with four “gates” in each of the cardinal directions. Color plays an important role in yantras as they bring energy, meaning, and intention to the design.

Yantras may be a part of a mandala where the yantra design is at the center and additional shapes, patterns, and colors are added as an expression of the artist’s exploration of the yantra’s energy and meaning.


To begin this new exploration, I thought it fitting to start with the Ganesh Yantra.


Lord Ganesha is commonly associated with the beginner of both inner and outer journeys and the remover of obstacles. It is also a good yantra as this is a foundational year for my career. There is a lot of uncertainty and my intention for creating this yantra is to bring clarity, confidence, guidance, and good fortune to my endeavors.


As I considered the shapes and colors for this yantra, I drew upon what I’ve learned from studying and teaching the Great Round and my knowledge of the chakras.

I thought of the root chakra and chose red for the square and “gates” for three reasons:

  1. The root chakra is about safety, security and having a solid foundation.
  2. Elephants are associated with the root chakra and Ganesh bears the head of an elephant.
  3. The sturdy square with the four gates is reflective of Stage 7 in the Great Round where we “stand four square in who we are.” Red is among the colors typically used in this stage.

Triangles indicate a direction and here the upward pointing triangle conveys moving forward.  We see upward facing triangles in Stage Four of the Great Round when we are about to start something new, a burst of creativity, or it can refer to our aspirations. It is the symbol for the element fire and is associated with masculine “doing” energy.

Within the triangle is the six-pointed star formed by two triangles, one pointing upward and the second one pointing downward. This perfectly balanced symbol brings together and harmonizes both the masculine and feminine qualities.

Blue is associated with emotions and I chose to color the inner symbols in blue to soothe and balance my mind and emotions, with what I’m thinking and feeling.

Green was chosen as it’s the color of the heart chakra. What better container for the mind and emotions than a circle of love?

Orange and red petals capture my creative spirit and passion which I know will help me and my projects to blossom.

Lastly, I added a gold dot in the center, referred to by Hindus as the bindu. The bindu provides a focal point for centering one’s attention during meditation.

After I decided on my color palette for this yantra, I allowed my mind to float as different thoughts about my hopes, aspirations, and dreams emerged while coloring in the shapes. At times my thoughts veered down memory lane and different work scenarios. As each color was applied, I felt my energy and excitement rise.


Meditating with this Yantra

I finished this yantra late in the evening. When done, I sat with it looking at all of the colors and memorizing each of the lines, shapes, and symbols. It wasn’t until the next morning during the liminal space between sleeping and waking that I intuited the meaning that this yantra had for me.

In my mind’s eye, I pictured the shapes and colors. I tuned in and felt my uncertainty and doubt around two recent projects. In both cases, I was doubting myself which is not a common feeling for me. Usually I’m decisive and when I take action, I accept that what is done is done. This time was different, perhaps because I’ve been feeling attached to the outcome.

Later in the morning, I spent time writing in my journal with periodic glances at the yantra. In a flash, I realized how much energy I was wasting by second guessing myself and listening to the opinions of others. When we put other peoples ideas, fears, and opinions before ours, we give our power away. Ah-ha! Now I see what is blocking me.

In my heart, I truly believe that the outcomes will be for the highest good for all. There is no need to worry. This is a time to relax in the uncertainty. As I easily and effortlessly released the worries, feelings of excitement filled my body, mind, and spirit. I can’t wait to see where my curiosity and creativity will take me next.


Traditional Colors for Ganesh Yantra

The next day I returned to the Ganesh Yantra and this time used the traditional colors. I added flowing lines within the green areas, my own artistic invention, to represent the flow inward that happens when obstacles are removed.


Version 3: Going with the Flow

Looking at my first two Ganesha Yantras, I decided to create a third one that is a fusion of some traditional colors with some colors and elements of my own choosing. I believe intention is the very most important ingredient in making powerful art. Before sitting down, I knew the palette and design for this yantra so I was able to fully let go into the process of creating it. Some of the lines are not precisely drawn, and I love it just as it is for it’s a reflection of my own perfectly imperfect container (aka body).

Thoughts drifted to the idea of flow, which coincidentally is my word-for-the-year. I thought about the importance of recognizing and releasing limiting beliefs and which ones that are blocking me. After I finished creating this yantra, I was moved to take an action step on an opportunity that I’m pursuing. I was impressed how the words for my letter flowed from my mind onto the computer screen.

This is the power of creating mandala art. We can relax and tap into our inner wise self, our inner Ganesha. The process of creating and coloring can be an opportunity for brainstorming, discerning, reflecting, and planning. It’s certainly so much more than making a pretty picture.


Are you curious to learn more about the meaning of your mandalas?

For the first time in three years, I’m offering my Great Round course in the fall. It starts on August 26, 2018. It’s a fascinating series that will give you insights about yourself and your life experiences. You’ll find the exploration both insightful and empowering.

Early Bird special, enroll before June 27th at get $20 off.

>>Get the details and sign up here.


outings & adventures, photography, sacred sundays, watercolor

Sacred Sundays, Lupines, and Lobster Coves


Seven months ago I made some lifestyle changes and declared Sundays as sacred. What makes them sacred? I unplug from social media and I don’t do any work; I spend quality time with my husband, savor nature, and create art. The idea is to slow down.

What I’ve discovered is how much I look forward to Sundays. My body, mind, and spirit deeply relaxes and I experience an inner peace and joy. I had no idea how much stress I was carrying until I made time to rest and renew on a regular basis.

Last Sunday, my husband and I ventured over to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, Maine.


It’s lupine season here in New England and I was in awe of the reds and dark pinks found at the gardens.


I’ve only seen the blues, light pinks, and white lupines.


Hens and chicks are a favorite of mine from the succulent family.


I snapped these shots to give me ideas for color combinations to use in future mandala projects.


Here we find a little shelter from the hot midday sun where the shadows captivated my attention.

While many flowers were not blooming at this time, I enjoyed how the wind played with the sculptures.


Often when we set out, we have an idea of where we’ll go but we are always open to the unexpected blessings and surprises that show up. Much to our luck we discovered a sweet spot on Lobster Cove for a picnic.


When we arrived late on a Sunday afternoon, we had the place to ourselves. It felt incredibly peaceful. The swing on a beautiful old tree called to me. I couldn’t remember the last time that I sat on a swing. As I kicked my legs out and back, I allowed my mind to relax into the moment. The crispy cool air chilled my face as I watched it gently ripple the water. It was the perfect way to end our day.


Sometimes the weather isn’t conducive for an outing or work demands our attention. Sacred Sundays then become Sacred Mondays or in this case Sacred Thursday. I googled, “breakfast with an ocean view” and found a restaurant called, “The Lobster Cove” in York Beach, Maine.

Our late morning arrival on a weekday meant we had our pick of seats on the deck.

We had ocean views on one side and …


views of this marshy area on the other side.


Looking down, little shadow mandalas dotted the deck.

As I look at the shadow photos in this post, thoughts go to Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain who both appeared successful and having so much light to offer the world yet this week both took their own lives. While I don’t know the underlying issues and reasons for their deaths, what I do know is that our culture needs more Sacred Sundays, more unplugging, more time face-to-face hanging out with loved one, more time in nature, and more time getting creative or active.


For today’s Sacred Sunday, I was inspired by the recurring “lobster cove” theme from our recent two outings. I pulled out my Arteza water-based brush pens to create this colorful lobster. There is a spontaneity and unpredictability with watercolors and it’s so much fun to see how the water interacts with the colors. I find myself giddy and playing like a kid.

How about you? Are you always plugged in? Carve out some time this week to pull the plug, find a swing at a nearby park or gather up some art supplies to make something.