Art Therapy: Drawing Mandalas
If you are looking for a daily, relaxing and therapeutic art practice, may I suggest drawing mandalas! Once you are in the flow of drawing, time flies by and you will feel a sense of relaxation and calmness.
Mandala, a Sanskrit word meaning circle, is a design that holds a great deal of symbolism in Hindu and Buddhist cultures. Traditional mandalas are commonly seen in Asian art.
The basic design structure of a mandala has several circles of different sizes contained within a square and arranged into sections around a central point.
While you can use a compass to get perfect circles, I prefer to freehand draw.
I’ve written this easy to follow 5-step tutorial to help you get started on your mandala drawing journey!
Continue to scroll and you’ll also find a video tutorial from my YouTube channel embedded at the bottom of this post.
It’s easy and simple to get started. All you need is a piece of paper (copy paper is fine to use) and a pencil!
- A sheet of copy paper or sketchbook paper
- Pencil (I like to use a mechanical pencil, but any pencil will do)
- Ruler; or quilting square
Step 1: Draw a Square
Draw an 8 inch by 8 inch square on a sheet of copy paper or sketchbook paper.
Step 2: Divide the square into quadrants
Draw a line at the 4 inch mark horizontally and vertically so that you have four quadrants.
Step 3: Add Circle Marker Lines
Start on the right side of the horizontal line and make the following marks at these intervals: 0.5”, 1”, 1.5”, 2”, 2.25”, 2.75”, 3” and 3.5”
Repeat the interval markings on the left side of the horizontal line, and on the top and bottom of the vertical line.
Draw a left and right diagonal line. Make the same interval markings on these diagonal lines.
Step 4: Draw in Circles
Connect the markings and draw in the circles. Turn the paper as needed in order to make it easier to draw in the curved circle lines.
The base of the mandala is ready!
Step 5: Build Your Mandala Design
Now the fun begins - it is time to build your mandala design!
The first step is to gather inspiration. For me, I love taking inspiration from this coloring book.
I also like to Google Mandala Coloring Pages to find all kinds of inspirational mandala design ideas.
Once you have your ideas, start building your mandala design from the center point outward.
A few tips:
- Draw with pencil first before you add any color
- Don’t strive for perfection and don’t overthink - just draw what comes to mind and enjoy the process
- Since you are just drawing what comes to mind, you will erase a lot too - and that's ok!
- Do a little each day - don’t feel that you need to complete a mandala design in one sitting.
Once you are finished - you can leave your mandala as is, as a pencil drawing which is beautiful in itself, or go back and outline with a black Fineliner, Uniball pen or Micron pen.
Be mindful of the paper you are using before adding color. If you are using copy paper or a drawing sketchbook, then add color with brush markers, gel pens, paint pens, fine liners or color pencils.
If you are using a thicker paper like watercolor paper, mixed media paper or sulfite paper, then in addition to the above coloring methods, you can also try using watercolor paint, acrylic paint or watercolor markers.
I drew this mandala on sulfite paper with pencil. Next I outlined it with a black micron pen. I added color with brush markers and then filled in the white spaces with watercolor paint. Finally I embellished it with a gold paint pen.
Once you are finished, you’ll feel like starting a new one - drawing mandalas can be very addictive!
An Alternative Drawing Method
Watch this video tutorial to see how I spruce up a plain brown paper bag - the kind you get when you order take-out food from a restaurant. It gives me such pleasure in repurposing a plain bag into something artistic and decorative!