Drawing Mandalas for the Joy of It

April 24, 2019
By Beth Herrild

I’ve been experimenting lately with drawing Mandalas. Mandala, roughly translated, means circle. It comes from Buddhist and Hindu traditions. A typical mandala starts in the center of the circle and radiates outward. They can be precisely measured or drawn organically and free-flowing. They can mean different things to different people, but what I know for sure, is that drawing mandalas is a meditative experience for the artist and can also be an impactful experience for the viewer. Our Zen Drawing Box contains all the supplies needed to get started with mandalas, except maybe a round dinner plate to trace.

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You can start by simply putting a black dot in the middle of your paper and working out from there. Be playful and let your creative mind take over. I find it helpful to draw some light lines with a pencil through the center to roughly divide up the circle into quadrants. You don’t have to be precise about it, just estimate visually to give yourself a few guidelines. Some people use a compass and protractor and get really precise – that’s not my style, but it may be yours. I find them meditative BECAUSE I let them unfold organically. The idea is just to repeat shapes all the way around the circle. Some people don’t even do this. There are really no concrete rules that you have to follow.


Another way to start is by tracing around something to give yourself a large circle. I actually find this much more difficult. I think my brain sees the drawn circle as confining. You can even draw a few concentric circles if that works for your brain.

As you can see, just using a black marker and white paper is quite striking! But, you can go back in with colored markers and color in some of the areas. If you use a waterproof marker, you can also go back in and add some watercolor washes after you have finished drawing. The liquid watercolors in our Watercolor Box are great for this, but there are no watercolors in our Zen Drawing Box. You could also use water soluble colored pencils that are like regular colored pencils but then if you brush over them with water, they become watercolors. I would encourage you to try several different ways. Try to be more in the moment with the process and less about the final product. Experiment and see what happens.

Since mandalas are meant to be meditative, drawing them as part of your morning ritual is a great way to start your day. Or before bed at night. If you have children, you could draw mandalas together as part of a transition activity when everyone arrives home from school or work. I enjoy drawing in the morning with a cup of coffee, often before I even get out of bed. Drawing mandalas instead of watching the morning news puts me in a much better mindset to have a productive and happy day. However you choose to draw mandalas, I hope they bring you joy.