how-to, monthly mandala challenges

November Mandala Challenge – Dandelion Mandalas

For this month’s challenge I invited fellow mandala artist and teacher Louise Gale to share with us a project from her newest book, “Botanical Mandalas.”

The video above includes:

  • Interview with Louise Gale about mandalas, nature, and the featured project.
  • Louise and Kathryn share their dandelion stories.
  • Step-by-Step demonstration to create your own Dandelion Mandala.
  • Contest details


Dandelion Wisdom

  • Did you know that dandelions grow in every continent?
  • What’s your dandelion story?
  • The sunny dandelion is a fire element and relates to the solar plexus chakra which is about inner strength, courage, clarity, and cheerfulness.
  • Ask yourself, “What area of my life needs a light on it? Or perhaps a little warmth?”
  • The dandelion in the white, puffy, seed state is related to the air element. Air is about our mental state. Every thought is an intention with a vibration that doesn’t stay in your head! Like the dandelion seeds that float far and wide, the vibration of our thoughts travels far and wide. Check in and notice the quality of your thoughts. Are they filled with worry and anxiety? If so, shift to a higher, positive frequency by focusing on what you’re grateful for.

Contest Details

  • Download the Dandelion Mandala Project.
  • Create a dandelion mandala inspired by Louise Gale’s lesson.
  • Photograph or scan your mandala.
  • Post your entry in the Sharing Circle.
    Not a member? Join Here.
    Member Log-in
  • Include your “three wishes” when posting your contest entry.
  • You may create as many dandelion mandalas as you’d like. Try out different mediums, backgrounds, and design elements. Be inspired by the various stages of the dandelion from bud, to bloom, to a puff ball of seeds.
  • Post your mandalas on or before November 30, 2018.
  • One lucky winner will be randomly selected to get a copy of Louise Gale’s book, “Botanical Mandalas.

Special thanks to my dear friend Claudia Gray whose photography and friendship continues to inspire my creative and soulful journey. Her fascination for dandelions added to my dandelion story!


About Louise Gale

Louise Gale is a British mixed media artist and author of the book ‘Botanical Mandalas’. She creates in her art studio which is on the south coast of Spain overlooking the sea, tiny fishing boats and the Moroccan coastline in the distance. Louise loves to combine the healing power of nature with the meditative process of mandala creating which result in her beautiful Botanical Mandala designs.

Louise believes that nature is our medicine which helps us reconnect with our true selves. Her art is constantly inspired by the beauty that surrounds her in the natural world. So when she is not in her studio creating, hosting online classes or working with other creative people, you can find her on the beach collecting inspiration and putting her bare feet into the sand.

Louise’s work has been published in the New York Times and she has contributed to many books and magazine articles where she shares her creative processes and love for nature, mandalas and color. She also has a permanent art collection called ‘Sew Hoboken’ at the Hoboken Historical Museum in New Jersey, USA.

Learn more about the book here:

Connect with Louise’s art and online classes here:

how-to, mandalas, offerings

How can a mandala practice help with healing and living a joyful life?


I’ve given myself a BIG gift in honor of my 50th birthday – the gift of health. I’ve set the intention that in this next year, I’ll explore various practices and modalities to help me to heal and balance my body, mind, and spirit. I want this next decade to be vibrant and joyful.

How can a mandala practice help with healing and living a joyful life?

On a simple level, we can create a healing and nurturing environment, by clearing a space in our homes, to listen to soothing music while we create, and to show up and make time for our mandala practice.

On a deeper level, we create with specific intentions, observe how the colors, shapes, and details reflect where we are at in the moment, and open up to our intuition and connection to Spirit.

The Seed of Life, pictured in the mandalas above, is one of my favorite “go to” patterns that I draw. It’s simple and quick to construct – we start by drawing a circle and then draw six more circle around it. That’s it! Seven circles come together to form this design.

As we step back and look at the Seed of Life, we can see how new shapes that look like flower petals are formed by the overlapping circles. When interpreting our mandalas, the center can been seen as the self and the objects around the center as the people, events, circumstances in our lives. We can also use this design as a “graphic organizer” to explore various facets of our lives. We can work with a specific intention like, “How can I balance my body, mind and spirit?” or we can work intuitively and follow our curiosity as we fill the design with color and form. Working intuitively, we can step back from the finished mandala and observe what shows up.

I have two opportunities coming up where we can explore the healing aspect of creating mandalas.


Opportunity #1: Yoga & Mandala Day Retreat

September 8, 2018
8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Inn at Greenwood Mountain in Hebron, Maine
Hosted by Maine Center for Vital Living

Give yourself the gift of a retreat day that will bring balance to your body, mind, and spirit. This day combines:

  • yoga and an Ayurvedically balanced lunch to nourish the body
  • meditation to ease the mind
  • creating mandalas to tap into your intuition and activate your creativity

The combination of yoga, meditation, healthy food, and creating mandalas will give you a day to nurture yourself and connect with where you are at and what’s next in your life. We’ll draw the Seed of Life pattern and use it as our guide to celebrate all that is currently blossoming in our lives and plant seeds (set intentions) for this next season.

No art experience needed. All tools and materials provided.

Registration closes on September 1st.

Participation is limited to 16.

Register Now


Opportunity #2: Creating Mandalas for Insight & Self Expression

There are many fun aspects of creating mandalas but my favorite is to create them for insight, meaning, and self expression. The Great Round course opens a door to understanding and connecting with the Self. As you learn about the twelve stages, you’ll recognize times when you’ve experienced them and some stages will offer new insights as to where you are in this moment of your life.

The stages of the Great Round honor our milestones and celebrations, reflect the highs and lows in our creativity cycles, support us when faced with life’s challenges, and guide us when embracing something new like a developing project, career, or relationship.

We’ll create a wide range of mandalas to explore the colors, symbols, and designs characteristic of these stages. No art experience needed.

Great Round Course Details:

Lessons run August 26, 2018 to December 9, 2018
Closing the Circle Celebration: January 2019
15 Video Lessons
100+ Mandala Projects
4 Show & Tell Webinars
Instructor Led Course

All of this for $75.

Starting Next Weekend!!!

Get the Details & Enroll

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)

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.

how-to, mandalas, watercolor

Product Review: Arteza Water-based Brush Pens


Arteza reached out to me asking if I would give an honest review of three of their products: 48 Water-Based Ink Real Brush Pens, Water Brush Pens, and Premium Watercolor Paper.

Run Time: 14:27

Related Links

Color I Course – For more product demos and lessons on creating color harmony. 

Mandala Drawing I Course – Learn how to draw mandalas. Ten video lessons, each one under ten minutes to get you started creating mandalas quickly and successfully. 

Sharing Circle – I’d love to see you in our online community for mandala enthusiasts. It’s FREE!


Arteza Affiliate Links

Arteza provide the products for this review. I was not paid for this review. I’m now participating in the Arteza Affiliate Program, which means if you click on the product links in this post and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I use these commissions to purchase products to giveaway in my monthly mandala challenges or to use in my workshops and courses.

Arteza Watercolor Real Brush Pens (Set of 48)

Arteza Water Brush Pens (Set of 6)

Arteza 9×12” Watercolor Pad (140lb/300g, 32 Sheets, 2 pack)