Thursday, July 9, 2020

Creating asymmetrical mandalas

There are those who are not fans of the geometry and regularity of a classic mandala. One blog follower commented:
“I am not enamored of round Zentangles … I think it is purely that I cannot bear to do the repetition involved as well as not enjoying having to get things to work out so precisely… Too much like geometry? Too mathematical.” 
Compositional art theory knows that some repetition contributes to the unity of the whole. It could be repetition of pattern, but also color, shape, texture, technique, etc.. When I was doing larger mandalas in acrylic paint, some of that repetition became rather not fun, but for the result to be what I wanted, the repetition was necessary. Here's one of those paintings.
"Bindu Lotus" 16" diameter, acrylic paint
The repeat aspect of structured patterns is part of the zen of Zentangle, but I understand that repeating that same tangle pattern six or eight or twelve times around can become dull!

For those interested in circular work, but who balk at the repetition, I have a few ideas.

Choose a tangle with circular possibilities, perhaps Fengle, Auraknot, Aquafleur or LinQ. Depending on the tangle, you may choose to begin at the center or the perimeter. The tile below uses LinQ towards the periphery. You can see that the sections are uneven, and they are detailed in a variety of ways.
Tangles: Black Pearlz, Bunzo, Flux, Krli-qs, LinQ, Pearlz
Start with an irregular, looped string. Below, while I didn't use the same tangle in all the 'petals', there is some repetitionI also used two variations of Tripoli outside the white 'petals'. Ixorus provides the many thin, white stripes.
Tangles: Black Pearlz, Ixorus, Pearlz, Tripoli,
and some things I just felt like doing at the time.
Draw pencil circles as the string but do them deliberately off-center from each other. You might want to collect a few lids of different sizes for this, or draw them freehand for more irregular 'circles'. You can fill each ring with a different 'border' tangle, or whatever you feel like.
Off-center circles by Jean Chamberlain Therkauf.
Tangles: Coaster, Fohbraid, Lamar, Marasu, Paisley Boa, Wud
Using an organic drawing process will give you some imprecise elements. Go to this blog post, watch the video, and give it a try.
Find a simple mandala design you like and draw it with your non-dominant hand, or draw it blind if you feel more adventurous! Here's a little African bowl and the drawing I did with my left hand. Below it is the tangled zendala tile.
Tangles: Crescent Moon, Doodah, variations of Sez, Zewm, Zonked


  1. Great advise and beautiful results, thank you very much Margaret!

  2. Wonderful advice and beautiful examples, Margaret! I always marvel at your commitment to the shapes you've created. SO much more interesting than "perfect". I just keep learning from you!

  3. Maria creates beautiful pieces on the Zendala tiles, and her best pieces are not mandalas at all. Treat it as you do a square tile, but skip the border. Draw a string, and let you your "zen- tuition" guide you!

    1. Indeed. I love Maria's creations too! However, this post is about creating mandalas. :)