Think Inside the Ox

The Hopewell Valley Arts Council offered me the opportunity to “decorate” an Ox, as part of their Stampede, for public display in our community. At first, I couldn’t conceptualize it. But it kept calling me. I went to all the meetings, joined the art committee, and even then wasn’t getting anywhere with a design idea. Well, I finally got it that no matter how often I asked for inspiration, it wasn’t coming until I actually sat down to work on the design. So I did, and out it came in no time.

NineTomatoes Mandala - Ox Progress 4/19/14But there was still the matter of a name. The guidelines: it should be ox-related and catchy. I’d been turning ideas around in my mind for months. But that night, I was really excited about the design and how it’d come to me like magic. After showing my husband, we got talking about something seemingly unrelated, and suddenly – boom! – it landed like a spaceship. Write that down! I said. “Think Inside the Ox” it is.

So now he’s here, living in my mudroom. He’s got a spectacular view, and after yesterday, he’s becoming a spectacular view. Here he is after one day, 25 pieces of paper meticulously cut and pasted. (Parents, note the “Thomas” chair in the corner. I just can’t part with it.) I’ll post progress pics as I go along. Oh, and if you’re local, visit Capital Health’s Art Gallery, where all the preliminary designs are on display until June 27th. Special thanks to Capital Health for sponsoring my design.


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Mandala Magic

Outside my window, it’s gray, winter white and death brown. Doesn’t that sound depressing? When I realize I’m feeling the low vibe in that view, I immediately turn my head and take in a few minutes of mandala magic. That’s all I need to get back to myself. A little light, a little color, a little geometric rearranging.

NineTomatoes Mandala "Renewal"

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Green Goddess

Last night, I was spinning some lettuce for a salad. It looked so lush and beautiful with the light glistening on the wet leaves… I had to get a photo.

As the mandala came to life, I suddenly noticed a green goddess hidden in the leaves, meditating. Figures like this show up often when I work with plants, and it always makes me think about what’s really in our food. So much more to this world than meets the eye! Something to think about next time you eat a salad.

NineTomatoes Mandala "Green Goddess"

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Sensible Products of Art

Recently, I came across Joseph Campbell’s book “The Inner Reaches of Outer Space.” The title alone got my attention, but in it he delves into some of my favorite things – space, mythology, ancient cultures, symbolism, God, etc.

NineTomatoes Mandala - Space

This quote, which he borrows from Plotinus, strikes a chord -

Not all who perceive with eyes the sensible products of art are affected alike by the same object, but if they know it for the outward portrayal of an archetype subsisting in intuition, their hearts are shaken and they recapture memory of that Original.

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A Gift from God

If you have any hangups about the word God, this post might not suit you. But I’m a believer, after all that’s happened to me. And I like my modern day image of God as an unconditionally loving force, so here we go.

People have always asked me how I make my mandalas. I used to blunder through an answer I thought would be easy to swallow. “Wellll, I draw, and then I scan and then I do this or that, and it’s a wonderful meditative process, blah, blah, blah.” I didn’t think anyone would believe the truth. But eventually I realized that belief is a personal thing, and says more about the believer (or non-believer) than it does about the storyteller.

So let me just spit it right out: I was given a Gift from God.

At a precise moment in time, all things in my Universe converged, a vortex opened and in rushed the Universal Life Force that creates worlds. What a rush it was! There was no missing it. I knew in that NineTomatoes Mandala "Infinity" A Gift from Godinstant what had happened, and I thought I’d found the Holy Grail. Little did I know I should buckle my seatbelt and hang on, because I was about to take a wild ride.

That said, I wouldn’t trade a minute of it, even though some of it’s been really painful. The healing that comes with the gift is just so worth it. And besides, you don’t give up on a Gift from God. You can’t. I tried. It didn’t work. God sent Angels I could actually see with my eyes to reassure me and keep me on path. There’s nothing quite like seeing an Angel. It makes a believer out of you, not to mention it knocks the wind out of your 3D “reality.” Lots more going on here than we can imagine.

Another thing you learn about Gifts from God is they’re not really just for you. All those private, healing creations I was making, it turns out, were meant to be shared. That’s a heavy responsibility and fulfilling it is a commitment. There’s no room for waffling. God wants you to focus, and that kind of focus requires a ton of trust.

You have to trust yourself, you have to trust God, and you have to trust the world. It’s a process, and thank goodness the mandalas help me with all of it. When I need strength, confidence, my voice, or any kind of assistance, a mandala comes. When I feel sad, or happy, excited or scared, mandalas come. Processing something? Releasing a wound? Mandalas. They’re like Angels. They come right away and they help you with whatever you need help with.

I’m still stunned by what comes through. The lines, the colors, the symbols, the expansion I feel when I’m creating. And then the profound love I feel for the finished mandala’s power and purity. It makes me want to share them, to set them free.

So that’s how I do it. I leave the door open for God, I trust what comes in and I trust what wants to come out. It’s really that simple.

I’ll leave you with my latest favorite quote -

“Deep and simple is far more essential than shallow and complex.”
~Fred Rogers


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Blue Moon Mandala

NineTomatoes Blue Moon MandalaMy bedroom is full of mandalas. Truthfully, my whole house is full of mandalas. I counted once…  over 100 in all shapes, sizes and colors. But the canvases hanging on the walls in my room were predominantly red, orange and yellow. The other day I noticed I was feeling unbalanced. My intuition said, “change the prints.” So I replaced a few of them with blues and purples. Much better!

Next time, I’ll do wall decals. I love the feeling of no corners. The Blue Moon Mandala shown to the right feels peaceful to me, and sets the mood for sleep. If I put it on the ceiling, I may never get out of bed.


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Electric Red Mandala

NineTomatoes Electric Red Mandala in a Red RoomImagine yourself sitting on this red couch, with that tremendous NineTomatoes electric red mandala radiating behind you. Feel it revving up your energy, feeding your drive to accomplish and get things done.

The trick to using red as inspiration is not to overdo it. Once you get going, dial back a little so you don’t wind up burning out.

(thanks to House Beautiful for the photo)

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