A couple of urban mandalas. A pocket park, for those of you who aren’t married to an urban planner, is a little park (often as small as one residential lot) nestled in the middle of an urban area.
Archive for February, 2008
The Oliver Sacks article got me thinking about historic patterns, and I started drawing more of my circular designs. Then my spouse walked by and said, “Holy mandala,” which got me thinking about consciously drawing modern mandalas. Here’s an excerpt from the Wikipedia entry for mandala:
“Mandala has become a generic term for any plan, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically, a microcosm of the Universe from the human perspective….The psychoanalyst Carl Jung saw the mandala as “a representation of the unconscious self.” …In the West, mandala is also used to refer to the “personal world” in which one lives, the various elements of the mandala or the activities and interests in which one engages, the most important being at the centre of the mandala and the least important at the periphery. Depicting one’s personal mandala in pictorial form can give one a good indication of the state of one’s spiritual life.”
I’ve always drawn circular patterns, ever since I was a little kid. My About page has some examples of circles done for various projects over the years.
Here’s a modern nature-inspired mandala. Is it meaningful that the center is empty, if that’s supposed to be the most important element? I’ll have to try to imbue my next set of mandalas with more conscious meaning.
Oliver Sacks has an article in the NYT that talks about the patterns that are associated with migraines. Here’s a little excerpt:
“In my own migraine auras, I would sometimes see — vividly with closed eyes, more faintly and transparently if I kept my eyes open — tiny branching lines, like twigs, or geometrical structures covering the entire visual field: lattices, checkerboards, cobwebs, and honeycombs. Sometimes there were more elaborate patterns, like Turkish carpets or complex mosaics; sometimes I saw scrolls and spirals, swirls and eddies; sometimes three-dimensional shapes like tiny pine cones or sea urchins.
Such patterns, I found, were not peculiar to me, and years later, when I worked in a migraine clinic, I discovered that many of my patients habitually saw such patterns.” — from Patterns, by Oliver Sacks
Sacks discusses how many other physical conditions can produce geometric hallucinations: sensory deprivation, low blood sugar, fever, delirium, or the hypnopompic and hypnagogic states that come immediately before and after sleep.
I’ve experienced some of these patterns, particularly when I’m drifting off to sleep. I’ve seen some beautiful patterns, interesting enough that they almost pushed me to full awakening. I’ve thought, “What a great combination of colors. I’ll have to remember that tomorrow.” And of course, I can never remember.
Sacks then ties the migraine patterns to patterns that have been represented in art across cultures, times and disciplines–painting, weaving, tile work, basketry, architecture–and wonders whether these similar geometric patterns could have all been inspired by internal brain organization.
It’s a fascinating article. I’ve always been drawn to organized forms, repetitive images, patterns of shape and color. Perhaps I’ve been tapping into a larger historical or biological system of organization, made tangible by artists throughout time.
[Note: I copied this entry over from my Vox blog, which unfortunately is unable to export comments. So I also copied the comments because they were particularly interesting and I hated to leave them behind.]
It’s a little like Love Not War but less impactful. I’ve been drawing the five houses for the Steele School Washington Park Home Tour, a little pro bono job I do every year for my kids’ elementary school. I’ll post my favorite house for this year’s tour. It actually looks really nice…it’s a modern house that still looks like it fits into its neighborhood and surroundings. Nice scale, interesting materials. I guess to do it justice I have to post the photo that I was working from, in addition to my sketch, since the sketch doesn’t really show the materials or colors.