For months now, I’ve been drawing and painting circles. I’ve found the activity both calming and centering. My mandalas are pretty sloppy and primitive especially when you compare them to work like this. (Not that there’s anything wrong with sloppy and primitive. I prefer art that looks like anybody can do it, and am often turned off by highly technical expertise.) Today, however, I decided to add a dimension of precision to my work.
I bought a protractor and attempted to follow directions for creating a six-radiation mandala from Baily Cunningham’s beautful book: Mandala, Journey to the Center. It’s been a while since I tried following someone else’s directions, and I found it nearly impossible to complete the mandala as instructed. I blame it on the math.
I’ve always hated math in school, and things like numbers and protractors and compasses are, for me, instruments of torture. Still, adding a little geometry and measurement to the creative art opened a new process for me. I could actually feel the unused parts of my brain getting a workout. I thought about the inevitability of geometry, and the universality of numberic relationships and ratios. I wondered how different my life would be if, as a child, I had not been so afraid of math. The mathematical language of the universe may have revealed truths I will never access.
Maybe in working with the arcs and the angles in my mandalas, I’ll catch a glimpse of the secrets of math without having to understand it. As I color my circles, I can at least appreciate of the value of balance with a renewed appreciation for measurement and precision.