Merrill's Mandalas!


What is a mandala and how did I come to creating them?

In 1989, I was living on Quadra Island in a small cabin on the beach, when my friend put a pencil in my hand and suggested I start drawing. I had never drawn anything in my life so I began very hesitantly with a small sketch of the cabin we lived in. Somewhat satisfied with my very first drawing, I soon found myself swirling my pencil into spirals and geometric designs. I fell in love with the new world of colours and shapes and endless possibilities. I was finding comfort in this new medium of expression and very quickly gravitated to ‘the circle’. I discovered that my artistic birth was safe and very inspired with this art form, this magic circle, wheel of life, sacred circle, which I learned was called MANDALA.

Where does “mandala” come from?

First of all, the actual word comes from the Indian Sanskrit meaning ‘circle’.   It has been traced back to the 12th Century, drawn by Hildegard von Bingen, but is also used in many other religions and philosophies, particularly Buddhism.   Mandalas are created all over the world and are used for different purposes. Native Americans created the medicine wheel, and the Aztecs used a mandala calendar for keeping time. The “yin-yang” symbol by the Taoist represents opposition and the intricate Tibetan mandalas rich in religious symbols are used in meditation. Both the Navajo Indians and the Tibetan monks create sand mandalas demonstrating the impermanence of life. You can even find mandalas in nature – flowers, snowflakes, crystals, and see them in stained glass windows, labyrinths, dream catchers and Celtic art.

My creative process

I love making mandalas. I love the form, shapes, designs, symbols and the richness of colours. It is a way for me to discover peace and joy with extreme focus and diligence. There is harmony and precision and more importantly imperfection and impermanence. I also enjoy commission work as I learn more about what the person is seeking. The ‘magic circle’ speaks to me as I never know how the circle will be transformed. It’s always a great spiritual journey into the unknown.

Fiery Threads

Fiery Threads was inspired by my daughter, Cari, as she directed her vision through me. She stood by my side every step of the way and together we created this piece, which became her birthday gift for 2012. I came to enjoy the experience once I got out of my own way as she took me totally out of my element, challenging me to create something very different for both of us.