Garden Mandalas

Garden Mandala No. 41 #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #geranium #mallow #plum #locust #azalea #cross #square #quadrants

I’ve been making mandalas from flowers and leaves since February 23. It has become my meditation, my art project. It’s how I’m dealing with stress and anxiety. I am a huge fan of land art, ephemeral artworks made of natural, found materials and installed in natural spaces. This is my own little contribution to the art form. I love flowers and used to be a florist, so it seems to fit.

Garden Mandala No. 44 #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #waldorfhome #ephemeral #roses #lavender

I am using primarily materials from my own garden and yard. Occasionally, when in a wild place or undeveloped lot, I will pick some wildflowers to use, but only if they are totally plentiful. I’ve made mandalas in my parents’ yard and in my in-laws’ yard, using their plants and flowers. I’m not buying cut flowers for this project, it’s just what I can glean.

Garden Mandala No. 38 Every day there's something new to use. #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenartflowers #square #cinquefoil #locust #lantana #roses #petals #leaves #catkins

It seems that every few days a new plant is blooming, making its flowers or pretty leaves available to my art. I don’t want to denude anything, of course—I grow my garden so that it’s beautiful and pleasant to be in—so I only take bits that are abundant. I carefully consider whether I can spare the flowers.

Garden Mandala No. 36 Office park landscaping and riverside wildflowers #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #star #starofdavid #thistle #wildflowers #waldorfhome #weeds

There’s a kind of sacred geometry to these, I think, as is so with all mandalas. I enjoy playing with forms. Each mandala has something wrong with it, a kind of wabi-sabi element. Somehow, this delights me. Even though I really do try to make them symmetrical and geometrical and “right.” Tiny pieces sometimes move out of place. Usually I don’t see their flaws until after I’ve taken the photo and walked away, or the wind has moved all the bits around and destroyed the pattern. Then I take a deep breath and decide to love the mandala anyway.

Garden Mandala No. 34 It's such a beautiful day! Happy Friday, friends! #spring #waldorfhome #mandala #gardening #flowers #leaves #landart #mallow #flowerstagram #azalea #periwinkle #oxialis #grass #japanesemaple #gardenart #ephemeral

Some mandalas are simple and some are complicated. I’m enjoying exploring shapes and textures, as well as colors and all their myriad combinations. Sometimes I use bare ground or my lawn as the background. Other times I’ll find a place under a tree where there’s bark or needles. I think the background contributes to the overall feeling of each mandala. So far, every one of them is unique in many ways.

Garden Mandala No. 30 #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #triangle #flowerstagram #roses #calendula

The wind is my enemy when designing a piece. Various sun versus shadow conditions can also be tricky, I’ve learned. Time of day matters, too. If it’s too late in the evening, I find my photo isn’t as nice because of low light. If the day has bright, bright sun, I often can’t tell by looking at my viewfinder if my photo has captured it properly. After taking shots, I play with the brightness, saturation, shadows, and other elements of the photo to try to pull out the best qualities of each mandala. I’m no whiz at postproduction, but I get in there and mess about anyway.

Good morning! Garden Mandala No. 2

Even if I’m using many flowers of the same type, or many leaves from the same tree or bush, each one is different. I like that these same-element groups don’t always behave the same, or look quite the same, or have the same size, color, or texture, but when viewed as a whole, sort of cooperate and can be taken together.

I think most of all, what I like about making these is that they make me happy. They’re little earthy prayers of my own making, arising from my wild mind and creative soul though the work of my hands, arranging materials that delight me. They are quieting, when my mind is racing. My mandalas give me a moment to stop everything, take a few moments outside, and make something beautiful, even if it lasts only a little while.

Garden Mandala No. 43 Friday I'm in LOVE #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #locust #plum #daylily #heart #mandalaart #ephemeral

I also love that they make other people happy. So, dear friends, thank you for the encouragement and kind words. I think I’ll keep making my garden mandalas for a while longer.

Technology Is Awesome

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My 13-year-old son has had a desktop computer since Christmas, Krita illustration software for a week, and a Wacom tablet for drawing for two days. He is talented, motivated, and hard-working, and I am so impressed with his ability and enthusiasm. A million thanks to my parents for the computer, and to Thaemos for the Wacom tablet.

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We are thrilled with his foray into digital art-making. We have made him promise not to abandon his graphite, charcoal, markers, acrylics, and oil paints. I will post more if and as he lets me. (He is a fairly a private guy these days.)

To those who worry that not putting devices in the hands of toddlers will somehow cause them to fall irrevocably behind the technology curve, I am here to say, honestly it takes young people who have had a delayed intro to computers (and plenty of hands-on, real-world experience à la Waldorf school) mere moments to catch up and surpass their elders.

 

Simple Earth Art

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I’ve posted about this before, and offered an easy tutorial. The last time we did this project it was with Lucas and his friend from school. But it’s too good to do only once, and this time I was hoping to get Lucas, Asher, and the neighborhood boys to play with me. Alas, basketball won out over my idea.

Still, Asher and I had fun. (He’s sweet to still sometimes do stuff with me.)

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This time, I enjoyed writing messages on my earths. Cheesy, maybe, but I like them.

2015-04-22 17.54.25

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Here’s how they turned out. I think they’re awesome. I’m making one for the bathroom that says “Save water.” Maybe it will remind us to cut down on our shower times.

Earth Day art #earthday #8yearold #secondgrader

Asher made this lovely Mars, too. Why not? He does live in the future, after all. Maybe someday the Earth won’t be our only home … Maybe future humans will get to choose.

2015-04-23 10.17.28

xo

Dragons!

Green dragon Asher 7

This is some of Asher’s art from this year. (He is 7.) I am afraid I can’t say exactly what month he created these, but I loved them so much I set them aside to keep and then misplaced them until now—which is OK because NOW it’s Michaelmas! And dragons are always appropriate for Michaelmas!

yellow dragon Asher 7
He drew these fine specimens, then cut them out. When I scanned them, of course, they reacquired their white backgrounds.

Black and green dragons Asher 7

I’m pretty sure these are influenced by the “How to Train Your Dragon” film. No matter. I think they’re wonderful.

I adore how sure he is in his drawing, how he means every stroke, but isn’t going to agonize over any of it. He makes a choice, executes it, and moves on. He is prolific and entirely free when drawing, whether he’s creating imaginary creatures or knights with intricate battle armor. He adores sketchbooks and making mural-size art.

 

E-Book for Equinox and Michaelmas Festivals

E-Book Cover

For any new readers, I would like to humbly mention that we have a beautiful e-book for sale that is perfect for this special time of year. This one is our Autumn Equinox & Michaelmas Festival E-Book. Eileen and I are really proud of it.

Here is a mosaic of just some of the images from the projects and activities we offer in our e-book.

Taste of the Contents of Our Autumn Equinox & Michaelmas Festival E-Book

133 PAGES of verses, fingerplays, poems, song, crafts, meditations, book recommendations, circle times, recipes, and much more to guide you in celebrating the Autumn Equinox and Michaelmas
in your home or school!
  • Needle Felt a Beautiful Apple Mother Doll
  • Go on an Apple Picking Field Trip and Learn
    About Different Varieties of Apples
  • Design a Breathtaking Early Autumn Nature Table
  • Read Books with the Children Celebrating
    Autumn and Michaelmas
  • Make Your Own Apple Stamps
  • Enjoy Homemade Applesauce Together
  • Crochet an Apple for Your Nature Table or Play Kitchen
  • Create a Beautiful Autumn Candle Holder Centerpiece
  • Make an Archangel Michael Mobile
  • Harvest Natural Dye Materials from Outdoors and
    Make Capes of Light Playsilks
  • Hold a Michaelmas Family Feast
  • Create Dragons out of Nature Items
  • Bake Dragon Bread with the Children
  • Make a Dragon Tree Block Checker Set
  • Sculpt Dragons out of Modeling Material
  • Cut Out Paper Flying Dragons to Display on Your Wall
  • Make a Michaelmas Felt Play Set
  • Paint an Autumn Leaf Stencil Painting with Watercolors
  • Crochet Beautiful Autumn Leaves for Your Nature Table
  • Paint Your Own Interpretation of Michael and the Dragon
  • Look Inward and Face Your Own Dragons with our Caregiver Meditation
  • Share Verses and Songs About Autumn and Michaelmas
  • Meditate on Quotes from Steiner and Other Inspirational Individuals
  • Enjoy Pinecone Weaving
  • Share Circle Time Together
  • Make Michael Sword Napkin Holders
  • Sculpt Michaelmas Worry Beads
  • Craft an Autumn Equinox Wreath

So, if you’re wondering how to make this time of year feel magical, this e-book may be just what you need. Thanks for peeking!

Only $24.99

Authors:
~ Eileen Straiton,
Little Acorn Learning

~ Sara Wilson, Love in the Suburbs

With Guest Contribution from Jennifer Tan, Syrendell

Still Painting

Not sure what else to do... maybe if I mull it over a while I'll have a breakthrough moment.

Well, I managed to paint a painting in July. I wish I could carve out more time for this. I SHOULD carve out more time for this. But then again, I SHOULDN’T let painting—which I LOVE—become another Should in my life. Tricky balance there, see?

IMG_7258

OK, anyway, I took this photo (above) of Wrights Lake in the El Dorado National Forest and I liked its simplicity and shapes. I liked its colors, too, and I thought it might translate nicely into a painting. You know, if I could paint it. So I tried.

It's coming along. Think I've corrected a couple of problems. I think I see some more.

This top photo is where it was after a couple of hours. I’ve put these phone snapshots into this post even though they are not good pics because I like to be able to see where I started and how the painting moved forward. Each stroke changes the whole. Each decision takes you farther along in the painting. I am usually making these decisions with my gut, and less with my head. But my head really wants to know WHY I’m deciding what I’m deciding as I paint. (I SHOULD go back to class.) I hope that I am improving the painting as I work on it. But sometimes I am not too sure.

I still struggle with putting in too many lights too early. I still struggle with translating a photo into a painting; I don’t really want the painting to be photorealistic but I do very much want what I’m painting to be recognizable, to look real. You might say that I don’t trust my ability to render my subject. I’m still learning about how light works and moves, so I try to replicate what I see faithfully. I don’t know if I know enough to invent. I want to learn to let the painting be my interpretation, to be my expression of a scene or a mood. I want to learn to use the paint to communicate emotion and not just “I was here.”

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So. Here is where my painting stands now. I’m calling it finished. I signed it. I like certain things about it; parts of the water are working, I think. I dislike other things. All those qualities I want my paintings to have—well, I have to keep painting to get there.

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And if I want to keep learning and getting better, I have to get this one off my easel so I can start something else.

Making art is hard.

Making art is scary.

Keep making art.

 

Valentine Making Party

Hearts

This was the scene in our home this past weekend. Our kids sat down with us and tackled their two class sets of valentines. I helped by cutting out many, many hearts …

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And amid kitchen clutter and projects and homework, we all set to work. Holidays always have to fit into the middle of everyday life, don’t they?

Making valentines. Making valentines

Lucas was totally independent. He’s a pro at valentines now. Asher needed some coaxing, but soon got into the swing of things. Honestly, I couldn’t believe we finished them all in one session!

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The smiley faces and bear faces were his idea. I have revived a practice I had as a little girl, saving flower catalogs and using their pretty flower photos for making valentines.

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Even Daddy got to make some valentines to show his appreciation for some co-workers.

Lucas's Valentines, 2013

Here are Lucas’s valentines. There’s something so boyish about them. We considered a fancy crafty-type of thing, but he chose the simple route.

So, now the house is decorated a bit. Red tulips are arranged in a crystal vase on the table. Tomorrow we’ll wake up to a Valentine’s Day breakfast, with a special treat or two—because it’s these three boys who hold the key to my heart, and every day I would like to give them all the sacred oceans, the beauteous moon above, sunshine magic, and a daily miracle if I could. It is for them my heart beats.

 

Papercut Banner for Chinese New Year Tutorial

Completed Red Paper Banner

Does your family celebrate Chinese New Year? We have just begun the Year of the Snake. “This 2013 year of Snake is meant for steady progress and attention to detail. Focus and discipline will be necessary for you to achieve what you set out to create.” In the spirit of the Chinese art of paper-cutting, I offer this simple papercut garland craft tutorial for you to decorate your home. If you and the kids can cut a paper snowflake, you can make this.

Materials

  • red square kite paper, red Japanese silk paper, or squared red construction paper
  • scissors
  • yarn

Making

Tutorial

If your paper isn’t already square, make it so.

Fold each square into fourths (in half and then in half again). Cut an interesting pattern into the square, in the same way that you would cut a paper snowflake. Chevrons, stripes, triangle, curls, “snakes,” and hearts are all good shapes to cut. Be sure that you are cutting through all four layers of paper. Although you can cut off the “middle” corner to make a center hole, try to preserve each of the other three corners. This will keep your paper flags square.

Red Paper Banner

If you cut five or seven or more of these, you can string them onto a piece of red yarn to make a festive banner to hang in your home or school. Each flag can be unique.

My Paper Flag

Your banner will do double duty as a Valentine’s Day decoration, if you cut a few hearts.

See more wonderful festival craft projects in our Festival E-Books, by Eileen Foley Straiton of Little Acorn Learning and myself. The Spring Festival E-Book is coming soon! We are hard at work on this e-book now. Stay tuned!

 

Ice Medallion

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If you live in a warm area like mine, winters are less about snow and snow play and more about crisp days, rain, fog, and overnight freezes. Back in December, we observed that nights of below-freezing temps were causing our birdbath to freeze over. We decided to do an experiment to see if we could remove the sheet of ice from the birdbath without breaking it. When that proved possible, we wondered if we could maybe decorate the ice and freeze pretty bits of nature into the ice.

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We put some winter bird berries and bits of evergreen needles on the large disk of ice, then laid the ice disk back into the birdbath (with nature bits on top of the ice). We added a little very cold water from the garden hose and waited for the next overnight freeze. We didn’t know if our experiment would work!

In the morning, we found the birdbath iced over again, and our leaves and berries embedded in the ice (but moved from our original placement). We had to wait a few hours for the day to warm enough for us to lift the ice out of the birdbath. While we waited, we brought a bowl of warm water from the house and warmed a metal kebab skewer in the water. We carefully bored two holes in the ice disk while it was still seated safely in the birdbath.

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We lifted out the disk and poked a piece of twine through the two holes to make a wide hanger. Then we hung the ice medallion in a tree and watched the winter sunlight sparkle through it.

I think we’ll try this again sometime with pretty yarn in a coil.

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Of course, this pretty piece of nature art didn’t last long. Perhaps if you live in a colder climate the ice medallion will stay longer?

Sixth Birthday Gift: Lord of the Rings Peg Dolls

Before

My little guy turns 6 in a few days. I’ve been making gifts and planning his party. Here’s a sneak-peek of one gift I’ve made. Shhh! Don’t tell him.

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Guess

Fellowship

Do you recognize the characters? I’ve painted a set of nine peg dolls to look like the Fellowship of the Ring characters. Gandalf’s hat is made out of sculpey clay. He just didn’t look like Gandalf to me without a hat. I’m pretty happy with these. I need to do a bit of touch up work and then varnish them. Think I should make Gollum, too? I think I might, if I have time.

Another day this week, I’ll share the another gift I’ve been working on.

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  • About Sara

    Thanks for visiting! I'm Sara, editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.

    Our children attend Waldorf school and we are enriching our home and family life with plenty of Waldorf-inspired festivals, crafts, and stories.

    © 2003–2017 Please do not use my photographs or text without my permission.

    "Love doesn't just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new." —Ursula K. LeGuinn

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