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May 25, 2020

Art Journaling & Mandalas with Toddlers.

When Ash, my four-year-old, was younger, we would draw together every day.

I have a giant art diary filled with our creativity. But when Liv, my two-year-old, arrived, I lost touch with my art making. From the moment I’m woken up in the morning by two energetic little people, it’s difficult to get a moment to myself.

About six months ago, I started doing morning mandalas as a way of being able to get some meditation practice in my morning.

A mandala is believed to be a symbolic picture of the universe. More simply, it is a dot surrounded by geometric and intricate patterns. The outer circle represents the cyclical nature of life. Mandalas are used in buddhism, hinduism, and also in art therapy to focus the mind in meditation. Mine are free-drawn and do not use pre-drawn circles. But if a symmetrical mandala sounds like you, or you’re interested in the more healing aspects, there are plenty of tutorials and information on the internet.

It’s amazing what a little meditation or flow time can do to your perspective of the day, and my creativity is really benefiting from it. But every time I took out my pens, the kids wanted to join in.

Allowing them to do so turned into a beautiful opportunity to spend time doing something I love with them.

To begin with, I found a few simple mandalas I liked on the internet, and I copied the patterns.

I mindfully enjoy my Posca pens on paper while the kids scribble around me. After a bit of regular practice, I would start my mandala with the kids. They would eventually become interested in something else, and I’d keep drawing, experimenting with free drawing patterns in the mandalas, collage, and more figurative art. I am loving our artworks (which have gone to a new level), and now we have some beautiful and fun canvases for our walls.

I have an art background, a Bachelor of Fine Arts, majoring in sculpture. Art journals are very familiar to me, a space to sketch out my creative ideas, designs, experiments with forms and colours. I’m art journalling almost daily now and would really recommend trying even 10 minutes of mandala drawing a day as a meditation and to tap into some more creativity and see where it leads.

I learn new techniques from the kids all the time, and our collaborations are improved by their free and abstract creativity.

If you’re interested in doing mandalas or other arts with your kids, here are my top tips:

A piece of paper, a blank book, or art journal bigger than A4 works best.

I have a black art journal which I bought cheap from K-mart. If I really like a work, I’ll rip it out and save it. The kids love scissors and often cut out pages which we reuse in craft, which adds another personalised dimension to the recycled craft pieces we make.

Choose your medium.

I love Posca pens for the fun colours; they really pop on black paper, and they flow almost like paint and have crisp lines. I also love “Lumocolour permanent” waxy pencils. They draw over other mediums and create another dimension to flat surfaces. Coloured textas or pens will also work, and kids’ pencils or crayons are probably my last choice because they don’t have strong pigment and because of the non blurry lines they create. But other people might like this effect, and wax crayons could be beautiful with watercolours. Just use something that you feel comfortable with.

As an aside, I would not consider paints for my mandalas. For me painting with toddlers and mindfulness do not fit into the same sentence. Again, it could be worth a try if you and your kids love to paint!

If, like me, you’re not confident on how to start drawing a mandala, print out a couple of simple mandalas from the internet so you have some patterns to copy. Sit down somewhere your kids can join you and start drawing.

Let the kids draw where and however they want. 

Sometimes the kids just madly scribble over my mandala, and sometimes I get to finish a mandala all by myself (which is so nice). The process of the over and under where we cross paths creates interesting and abstract areas. Try not to get too particular about your work; you can come back to parts of the design and redraw or add more in your own time.

Enjoy the repetition and the calming process, and if something special comes out of it (it often does), it might be worth framing and putting up on the wall.

Hope you enjoy drawing mandalas with your kids. If you give it a try, tag us on Instagram, or hashtag us (#slowmadenomad) so we can see.

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