Well, I have to admit I got a bit “in my head” with this one – not as meditative as an approach as I try to bring to mandala drawing. But after reading Tom’s poem for the first part, this is how I continued the mandala. The scene unfolds with bridges, people and stylized Chinese clouds with dragons lurking …and Tom followed with the next poem for the series.
All across the Middle Kingdom
gossips gather in the streets
“Will the Emperor’s dominion
yield to rude invader’s feet?”
“Of course the Throne is will never fall
to the horsemen of the steppes!
Our warriors will give their all
to keep the raiders from our steps!”
On the walls the mages conjure
summoning the dragon-clouds
to ward the kingdom from its danger:
up they rise so fierce and proud!
While the sentinels beyond
huddle ‘neath the lotus fronds.
We are trying something a bit different this time. With more of an improvised approach, Tom is going to write a poem after each third of the mandala has been drawn. My second and third parts will respond to his poetry written for the previous segment. Should be fun!
Here’s his poem for the first (central) part of the mandala.
Chinese lanterns light the night
drifting up into the sky
echoing the birds in flight
calling out with curlew’s cry
across the spiral miles to home:
“We are the sentinels, our towers
stand beneath the vaulted dome
of heaven, like the lily-flowers.
Now we need a swift reply
to our message, to our need.
Let not long slow days go by!
Hear us! Hear our voice, and heed:
The enemy is at the gates!
Send us mages! Do not wait!”
This “mini-mandala” is about 5″ in diameter. It is fun to play at this slightly smaller scale. The others I have been doing are almost double that size at about 8″ in diameter and I may try much larger at some point.
Spirals and petals and loops flow from one another leading to hidden or more apparent pictures within. Here’s Tom’s poem expressing what he saw – or at least his reaction to what he saw. I especially love that final couplet!
Engines of creation always turn
through cycles mixing levels of impulsion
while the rising petaled flowers burn
with colours never captured in emulsion.
Bluebells ring around the rosy centre;
tumbling changes spill across the fields
where the breath of nature yearns to enter
souls that stand aloof and do not yield.
Soft temptation gently filigreed
across the meadow by an errant breeze
beckons to the wanting and the need
of supplicants upon their bended knees.
Figures frozen in the grip of Fate
‘Til they rise and love wins over hate.
While drawing these mandalas, I may have a certain idea in mind but this usually evolves and changes. A pattern in one context looks like one thing but could be seen as something completely different in another. For example, if we divide the mandala into central area, mid zone and periphery, what does the pattern in the mid zone represent? It could be flower petals, waves, sand dunes etc. – so many options just for that one pattern. That is one reason why it is so fun to find out how a poet responds to these and see what he sees in them!
…and here is Tom’s poem!
Laurel wreaths surrounding petaled waves
weed-grown margin of an isle alone
inhabited by fishes as they drave
around the world in search of footpaths home
within the margin of the reef entire
thin ornamental band protecting dunes
as clownish owls come ogle at the fire
of buccan wood that burns in evening’s gloom.
Bell-fruits dangle from the swaying trunks
as the dry Alize brings ships alee…
brave companions quaffing rum so drunk
so as to stand and sign and follow me.
All hands set sail, the Spaniard’s on the Main!
We’ll take her treasure, live like kings again!
Another extremely curious range of forms evolving from the organic vegetation at the centre to the architectural motifs around the perimeter. Once again, it was an adventure not knowing where it would end up …a kind of visual arts improv but not doing it for an audience. Ooooh – that’s a really scary idea! Now I think I’ll have to somehow try it as performance art!
Tom was once again inspired to write a poem for this mandala matching it in strangeness! 🙂
Fishes struggle toward the centre
as lotus blossoms embrocate
sunny parquetry, pilasters
raise a fist against cold fate
while the central segmentation
bubbles outward, roiling heap
of stems entangle soft sensation
lulling fishes down to sleep
as above observers yearn
to solve the sensuous divide
that keeps them from where fishes churn
receding now upon the tide.
Clean and unadulterated
lines of art with curves are sated.
Curious forms somehow watery and of the sea continue to flow from my pen. This one started with some quite angular shapes but quickly changed to curved and organic. Again, I really enjoyed how this evolved and the feeling that the “decisions” were spontaneous and natural.
Tom saw this as ongoing from previous one so the Atlantean tale continues in his poem!
Through the portal in the crystal
falling down dimensions dark
to the land of thorny thistle
where on mountaintops the spark
of ancient circles made of stone
resting for this endless time
await beneath the peaceful dome
of vaulted heaven, starry sky.
As these islands slip below
the rising waters, stranger tides
of eldrich magic ebb and flow
echoing on mountainsides
where in days of futures past
far-flung travelers found their rest
now the first are finally last
those precious few have passed the test.
All the others enter deep
down into the ocean blue
learning like the crabs that creep
in the darkness, through and through,
building cities in the depths
adapting to rough circumstance
abandoning without regret
clouds and stars, light that slants
through the empty ocean sky
as the gulls fly softly by.
As this next in the seashore mandala series evolved, the title came into my mind. It seemed that the elders and others were pondering their future as the waters were rising around them. I did give this title to Tom before he wrote the poem – but we were already on the same wave-length!
The seas are rising: where the flowers grow
there soon enough will be just ocean waves
covering this land of oak and willow
washing out to sea all we have saved
from elder times, the planets of our race
long swallowed up by swelling stars grown old.
On Earth we lived for countless years displaced
from hearth and home, yet safe within the folds
of green-cloaked hills along this ocean ridge
far from merely human habitation,
our island nation could have been a bridge
between the continents in slow rotation.
Our future lies beneath the storm-tossed sea
Perhaps we will adapt, and swim… be free.
The curious forms that arise from the unedited pen! Here is the next in the seashore mandala series along with Tom’s poem written just for it. He has a way of finding a profound truth and expressing in words what the image just hints at!
these are the waves and openings: desire
expressing truth that dare not speak its name
reaching out with circumferential fire
rockets rising twist with passion’s flame
within the dark each world a rooted tree
holding all potential for the Earth
ranging over possibilities
from want to where there is a lack of dearth
deeper still the nugget at the core
surrounded by a flower’s eternal flame
ever growing, ever wanting more
ever changing, never quite the same
the changeless sea’s eternal moving waves
echoes silence from the ocean caves
Here is the second in my meditative seashore mandala series. I find this one both playful and lyrical. Allowing myself to create without editing or judging is a powerful exercise! Carrying that approach into oil painting will be the next challenge.
Here is Tom’s accompanying poem. 😀
there’s something faintly fishy in the faces
formally interrogating files
they filters out anemones, displaces
something central to the art of smiles
glaring with intensity is one
side of things but when turned upside-down
seems a lot more quizzical and rum
wondering how tentacles can frown
is this crown a tongue that speaks in riddles
tangled in the eyelashes that flower
over Rome while Nero plays the fiddles
the reveling insouciance of power
somewhere secrets curve the time of space
into flowers showing love’s true face
The end of September and early October were too busy to post. I was packing and moving and then unpacking – within the same city but still, it takes a lot of time and energy!
I did find, however, that I couldn’t quite not do any art at all. In the evenings, I would sit down and get out my new fountain pen and heavy stock watercolour paper and draw spontaneous mandalas. The last several mandalas I had been drawing were needing a fair amount of pre-planning – especially the ones with Celtic knots involved. If decisions weren’t made ahead of time, I could get tied up in – well – knots! So anyway, this seashore mandala series is a return to a purely meditative way of drawing mandalas – just letting each line lead from the previous one.
There may be no water-coloured version since the ink in my fountain pen is not fully water-proof and that would result at best in loss of detail and at worst in just a mess! I’m quite a bit late for “inktober” but I will be posting mostly ink drawings for the rest of the month if not every day.