A mandala is a geometric design meant to symbolize the universe. It is an art form that is found in many cultures around the world. The word mandala is rooted in Sanskrit, and means “healing circle” or “whole world," and can be seen as a model for the organizational structure of life and the universe.
Mandalas are abstract or pictorial designs using various lines, shapes, and colors. Concrete objects and symbols that are important to the artist can also be incorporated, such as a snail's shell or a flower in the middle of the design.
Mandalas are usually circular in shape, with designs starting at the center, and working their way outward (or vice versa). They are created using a variety of materials, such as objects from nature (for example: leaves, small stones, sand, shells, flowers, and so on), or with more readily available materials, such as pens, paint, ribbons, and paper.
Mandalas are often constructed as a group project to decorate a sacred space, to finalize or punctuate a significant event, or simply as an enjoyable group activity. Before creating a mandala, students can brainstorm in order to help determine what to incorporate, such as symbols, materials and subjects that are important to them. When using paint or pens, students can sketch a design before starting. A list of mandala lesson plans follow.
Mandala Art Lesson Plans
Mandala Art: This lesson introduces students to basic mandala art using pencil and watercolors. Students of all ages would enjoy this lesson and could successfully create a watercolor mandala, and enjoy the process using basic shapes (squares, circles) and mixing and blending colors.
Lost Treasures of Tibet: I like the way this lesson has the procedure for creating a mandala organized in simple basic steps. The "designing a mandala" student handout is helpful to get students started, and having students create their own symbol systems first is a great idea. Brainstorming ideas as a class is also helpful. Writing about what their personal mandala symbolizes, and discussing afterwards is a great extension as well. This lesson would probably be suitable for grades four and above.
Radial Design:Drawing From Life: The technique of folding and tracing to create symmetry is helpful for students to successfully create a balanced design, and understand math concepts as they relate to art. The finished product using colored pencils is vibrant and amazing! I like that this lesson can be modified for elementary through high school.
Circular Mandala: This lesson has an interesting twist on creating mandala art. Having students take a magazine photo and focus on a portion magnified using a view finder led to some interesting results. The new, creative use of perspective gives artists and viewers a fresh way to look at everyday subjects.