“I hope to bring a sense of connectedness in my paintings. I hope to ignite something deep in the viewer, bringing them back to themselves, and reflecting on how the perceived self has no separation from the world around them.” ~ Morgan Mandala
Art is a powerful medium that reconnects us to the invisible realms, the intangible, opens new doors of perception and helps us find a healing path in our lives. Exploring this interconnectedness between the self and the world through art is Morgan Mandala – a contemporary artist based in the mountains of Boulder, Colorado, USA.
Through art, she hopes to ignite something deep in the viewer, to bring them back to themselves, and reflect on how the perceived self has no separation from the world around them.
Morgan combines naturalistic imagery with geometric, mandalas and symbolic forms to express facets of humanity and spirituality. We caught up with Morgan to know more about her art and ……
What has been your primary source of inspiration that led you on this journey of creating visionary art?
I always loved creating art, and art was always a powerful tool for me to transmute and heal emotional and physical pain. When I got more serious about painting, I was studying philosophy and early art history of first cultures from around the world. I knew I wanted to make paintings that were meaningful, and may help people find a path towards healing in their lives.
Why Mandalas, what’s the significance of using Mandalas?
I relate to and use mandalas as graphic representations of the universe. They are an attempt to simultaneously convey the microcosm and macrocosm; the oneness, and multiplicity, of our world. For me, mandalas make the most sense in representing the One, while also showing the many, and that they are (overall) the same thing.
Have Mandalas played an instrumental role in your healing journey?
Yes – creating mandalas has been a wonderful and powerful tool for me. Working from the centre outwards can be a grounding meditative practice. It has helped me cultivate patience, mindfulness, and focus. Creating mandalas with an intention for healing can be very powerful as well. Usually I would do this with a mantra or word for each pencil mark or brushstroke. It provides a way to externalize, as well as making peace with issues at hand.
Each mandala ends up as a visual record of your mediation and healing journey, and contains the intention within it. This approach has been a very powerful tool for confronting and moving through mental and emotional blockages.
Do you tap into flow state to create your art, and what are the methodologies used?
Getting into the “flow state” is an essential part of a productive day in the studio! There are many ways I try to get into a flow state, and set the stage for a painting session. Hiking in the mountains helps me move energy physically, and clear my mind to be ready to paint.
Setting my space before I dive in also helps keep me in the flow. It helps to make sure I have everything I will need in front of me, so my attention does not have to leave my painting space. I will clear my painting space, set my palette, turn on music (preferably without words), and maybe light Paolo Santo and do a few deep breaths.
I always say I paint best when I don’t think. When your mind gets in the way, it can break the flow state. Painting is a meditation in this way. I can refocus to the tip of the brush, guiding my awareness back if it goes astray.
If I am feeling very unfocused or uninspired, there are a few other methods I use to get back to the flow state. I will sometimes do a visualization exercise to reignite my imagination. I also do free association drawing and writing, or try working on a simple mandala. Not only that, but I also go back to things I drew as a child, and simple drawing practices, such as still lives.
How long does it take you to complete a piece?
The length of time spent on a painting varies with my paintings. Some small paintings take one to two days, but larger paintings take me months, to years. I spend a lot of time on detail in my larger original paintings (much of which can only be seen in person), so I would estimate that they take at least 4-10 months to complete, if I were to work from start to finish.
Some paintings have skeletal figures in them, is it to show the significance of death? Please elaborate.
I use imagery of skeletons in my paintings for many reasons, depending on the painting. Most often, I use the skeleton to symbolically represent a human at their core. Without the nuances of appearance, the skeleton is relatable to every human being, regardless of race, gender, religion, culture, etc. It is just plainly human.
The skeleton is also the only physical representation of one’s life once they have passed and gone back to the earth. It is often the longest lasting physical representation of any human life.
In our culture, the skeleton may be viewed as a symbol of mortality, but I see it as the symbol of a life lived – that includes all races and genders. The skeleton and mortality are things shared by all of humanity. I hope for the skeletons in my paintings to be more of a unifying symbol than an ominous one, and want the symbol to bring a sense of empathy and self reflection.
What are the key elements you encapsulate in your paintings?
I hope people contemplate the archetypes within themselves, and find a new way to relate to nature, the cycles of life and death, and our human history. I hope people contemplate the beauty in something that they have never seen, or never cared about. I hope to encapsulate love, to give it out to whoever looks at my paintings.
…but it is impossible to encapsulate an intangible element – perhaps I do not wish to encapsulate, but I wish to give people signs, or maps, back to the magic of the one (you) ; back to the truth that we are all inherently connected, and need to act with more awareness of how the things we do affect the world around us.
I hope my art inspires people to try to live harmoniously with others and nature. I aim to encapsulate love, but if someone feels moved by my art on any level, I feel it is a success.
Who are the artists that inspire you?
SO MANY! There are too many to list… but here are just a few:
Martina Hoffmann & Robert Venosa
Alex & Allyson Grey
Are your paintings a reflection of your personal transformation?
I would say yes…My paintings are inseparable from my life’s journey, so to me, they do reflect a personal transformation. They reflect ideas and my studies during the time I made them. They also reflect places I travel, and people I work with. Every painting involves an aspect of intuition, and allowing unplanned things during the creation to be an influence. Some paintings are a literal reflection of a meditation, or healing process. Some paintings are ayahuasca visions, and some are dreams.
How would you say your art has evolved over the years?
My art has evolved in many ways as I explore different avenues of creation. Collaborating with other artists has exposed me to many methods of painting, so my approach has broadened over the years.
I have expanded in technique and subject matter, and have added the practice of plain air painting to my skill set. I have been working closely with Randal Roberts, and we have developed our own visual language together to describe unity and multiplicity.
We have been able to create paintings intuitively together, and let flow and love guide our brushes to create a non-subjective metaphor for this concept. I also feel like I am beginning to scratch the surface of having the skills necessary to create paintings that I have conceptualized for some time, which will (hopefully) be another evolution of my work, where I will combine new painting skills, concepts, and styles. I hope that my work continues to grow and evolve throughout my lifetime.
If you had one message to give your fellow humans, what would it be?
Be the best you can be, so as it ripples outward, and positively affects the people and world around you.
People have more similarities with each other than differences, regardless of background. I hope people can recognize themselves in others, and seek to understand and treat people with compassion. We all seek love and stability. We all share mortality. Let’s make it easier for one another.
We are inseparable from our environment. If humanity cannot learn to live in harmony, it will be our demise, but the earth will go on. I hope we can learn to treat our environment as a part of ourselves. I hope our earth can be recognized as divine, and given the deserved respect as the mother of life as we know it.
You can check out all of Morgan Mandala’s art here.