Art as Spiritual Practice: The Mandala

I believe that just as all of life is created from and infused with Spirit, so is art.  In my art I draw no lines between “spiritual” and “non spiritual” works.  Some pieces may have more obvious religious or spiritual themes or symbolism than others, but all are created with the Creator of the Universe.

That said I do love to play with sacred geometry, especially circles.  I have worked with the form of the Rose Window for Rose of Sharon.

Rose of Sharon Copyright 2010
Rose of Sharon
Copyright 2010

I have also explored the labyrinth (the Walker Series),

Firewalker Copyright 2015 by R.A. Robbins
Firewalker
Copyright 2015 by R.A. Robbins

But until recently I have not attempted a mandala.  Finally one day last summer I cleared my schedule for an “art day” and devoted my time and energy to making one.

I began the day with meditation on the courtesy dock which actually extends over the water.  What a wonderful way to begin, sitting silently listening to the birds and feeling the gentle breeze on my face.  Then I went inside and did a bit more study on the history and process of the mandala.  I wanted to work outside so I loaded up a couple of tote bags, walked back down to the lake and set up on a picnic table by the water.

I thought I had an idea of what I would do, but Spirit had something else in mind.  Instead of the extremely intricate flowing lines of many drawn mandalas, I ended us with very basic circles full of personal meaning and symbolism.  It may not seem like much to others, but to me it is a gentle, encouraging message from the Creator and exactly what I needed on that day.  I am not posting a photo here because this is a very personal piece. It is hanging in my studio and is not for sale.

 

When we begin recognizing our connection to nature, Spirit, symbols and other people life starts to open up to us in all it’s glory.  The mandala is one tool we can use to help facilitate this.  More than just an art form, Spirit will speak through it if we just listen.

For more information on mandalas see:

http://www.mandalaproject.org/

http://peopleof.oureverydaylife.com/history-mandala-7424.html

http://www.creativedreamincubator.com/journaling-2/art-journal/how-to-draw-mandalas-and-why-you-want-to/

 

Studio Envy and Being Content

work-table-orig

I am blessed to have an in-home art studio.  An actual room —  with a double window — at the end of the hall — where all my cool art stuff lives — and I (sometimes) actually work, and … it has a door!  That door can be closed when the room is a mess.  What more could an artist ask for?   Well a view of the lake would be nice.  And I do get studio envy when I see photos of gorgeous studios that look like they were actually planned, with lots of shelves and cabinet space and a professional photo set up and a custom made work table, and of course all kinds of machines and gadgets.  And studios with lots of natural light and a beautiful view?  Well that is when I start to drool.

Yes, I am human.  I do sometimes want more than I have.  Then I think about all the strings that come attached to the stuff we accumulate in this world.  Like debt, worry and clutter when we realize we really didn’t need or don’t use all the “stuff.”

So I am happy with my little studio.  After all, we live at the lake and if I want to work lakeside I can.  It involves packing stuff up and walking about 2 blocks to the lake, but there is a picnic table down there — and a bench — not to mention a view that many people would love to have.  Then I realize that there are people who are actually jealous of my little life at the lake and I realize how blessed I am.

After all, being an artist isn’t about what your studio looks like, or even if you have one.  It isn’t about having all the latest and most expensive tools, supplies and gadgets.  It also isn’t about being rich and famous or people gushing about what a great job you have.  The people here where I live (my neighbors) are totally unimpressed.  🙂 Being an artist is about being in touch with and expressing the creative nature of God.  And that is a very cool thing.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Talk to me!  What’s one very cool thing about your life you wouldn’t trade for anything?  Please think about this — we all have one.  Post your responses in the comments below.

 

Fabric Art Trunk Show

As you may know I spend a lot of time online visiting blogs and websites of our followers as well as new friends.  I find a lot of interesting people and learn a lot of new things when I go “visiting.”

Recently I happened onto an online “trunk show” called Trunk Full of Quilts 2016 at Whims and Fancies.  It looked interesting so I decided to see what I could come up with.

I’m calling this “Trunk Full of Life” because that’s where my art comes from — life.  Much of my work has recognizable spiritual themes, but I consider all my work to be spiritual because we can’t separate Spirit from the rest of life.

Let’s begin with The World’s Gone Crazy but I’m Okay.  This had special meaning for me when I created it several years ago, but is even more meaningful.  Surrounded by chaos and the world unraveling, I am in the center enveloped by the White Light of God with the words to the Prayer of Protection around the edge.

Copyright 2016 by R.A. Robbins
Copyright 2013 by R.A. Robbins

Rocky Mountain Skyline — the city is Denver.  Driving toward Denver from the east you can see the city rising above the prairie.

Rocky Mountain Skyline

Rocky Mountain Skyline, Copyright 1999 by R.A. Robbins

Sunrise at the Lake 1 and 2 are postcards inspired by the first sunrise I saw and photographed after moving to the lake.  The first is done “plain” the second is more impressionist in style.

 

sunrise 001 cropped

Sunrise at the Lake #1 Copyright 2016 by R.A. Robbins

sunrise 003 croppedSunrise at the Lake # 2  Copyright 2016  by R.A. Robbins

Please don’t anyone faint over this one.  It’s called Quilter’s Burnout and yes, I did burn it.  I was extremely frustrated — what more can I say?

Quilter's Burn Out Copyright 2013 by R.A. Robbins
Quilter’s Burn Out
Copyright 2013 by R.A. Robbins

At the Gates of Heaven is the first time I actually manipulated a photo on the computer before printing it to fabric.  Did not get the results I expected but I like it.

At the Gates of Heaven Copyright 2013 by R.A. Robbins
At the Gates of Heaven
Copyright 2010 by R.A. Robbins

I saved the next two for last because they always make me cry so I have a box of tissues handy.  Sometimes I like to interpret music into art.  This is called Carousel of Time inspired by the Joni Mitchell song Circle Game.  The photos you can’t see very well are of my late mother.

Carousel of Time Copyright 2014 by R.A. Robbins Original quilt based on the song Circle Game

Carousel of Time
Copyright 2006 by R.A. Robbins

I don’t make bed quilts very often and when I do it’s a labor of love.  My mother asked me if I would make a quilt for her out of handkerchiefs from both of my grandmothers and said she would send the hankies to me.  Shortly after that conversation she fell ill and died.  When we went home for her funeral my dad gave me the box of hankies that she never got to send to me.  It took me a long time to even start this, but now I have this reminder of my grandmas and my mom.

Copyright 2013 by R.A. Robbins

Okay, so now it’s time to put away the tissues and get back to work. New inspiration is always just around the corner.

Please take minute to visit Whims and Fancies to see the beautiful quilts.

Online Quilt Trunk Show | Whims And Fancies