My working method is as follows. While many of the outlines of members of my menagerie are created in pen and ink and scanned in, others are created digitally by juxtaposing outlined ovals and cutting them up and repeating and realigning them along with solid shapes and colors in layers in an older version of Photoshop. I also found that while I could apply self created dots, line and patterns directly in a variety of colors in layers on top, I could also get interesting effects with erasing back shapes and “magic-wanded” patterns with the eraser tool—acting as a cutout of the top color layer showing the color on the layer below. Adjusting the opacity and multiplying colors also brought great and sometimes surprising and pleasing effects and unusual patterns. I create my own flames, tie-dye, comic book dots, fish scales and coral hexagon patterns, etc. that can be reused at will. I also create reusable coffee-stain, paint splatter, and brush stroke patterns that are color-adjustable as needed. The character of my color illustrations is somewhat reminiscent of the “dots and dashes” approach that has resided in my pen and ink mark making for over 30 years keeping my technique personal and comfortable.
Multiple versions of my plants and animals are positioned in a central circular design in repeating rotations of equal degrees in formulas of from 2-8 identical shapes placed in a center based line axis. For instance a moth may be repeated 4 times and rotated equally at 90 degrees. As the images are placed I look at not only the shapes that the organisms form as a positive shape but also what shapes are formed in the negative spaces between each organism. I consider not only the number of repeated organisms in their arrangement but also consider how I have portrayed their size and color. I communicate the story by including visual elements of my main subject’s morphology, habitat, and their association with other organism species. Upon completion, each of my mandalas depict what surrounds the outward “around” boundary and the “in-bound contained art” becoming the circle that may be represented by a hollowed out log, a plant’s floral array, outlines of the heads, wings and tails of multiple birds, or the single outer edge of a bird’s nest.
Noting that mandalas are meant for intense attention and meditation and are packed with multiple shapes, colors, and designs for cerebral story telling, the challenge becomes not allowing the overall geometry of the repeating elements in each of my mandalas to overpower the individuality of the organisms to which I had applied artful and loving ornamentation and detail. I do not want to overwhelm the viewer; I want the story and art to be easily enjoyed for its simplicity, and, I want my subject matter to be appreciated for the shapes and patterns I have created and the craft behind the process.
I hope that you have enjoyed what you have read and that you find my highly crafted and detailed images engaging and exciting perhaps capturing some of the feelings you have felt while you wander with wonder through nature! For prints of this image and others please visit my shop to bring the radiant beauty of nature into the warmth of your home.