New year, new energy

I have started this year with reorganising my studio. It’s a major revamp – with new shelves and new pinning boards along one wall. I’m also taking the opportunity to sort and clear out all my stacks of old pictures, doodles, sketched ideas and junk.

As a result the studio is a bit messy right now. Any art I make is squeezed between piles of stuff waiting to be moved or sorted. So it’s mostly small stuff. This 25cm x 25cm canvas was just able to fit in the space I cleared last week.

I’ve been thinking about energy a lot, what with trying to recover from an exhausting 2017 and paying close attention to what energises me and what depletes me.

Fabric of Life 1

Somehow energy is represented in my brain as these round bubbles with different textures. Some are spiky and bright, others swirling and sparkly. This “fabric of life” painting shows some of these energy representations, against a background of woven fabric.

Fabric of Life 2

Fabric of Life is painted in acrylics on a gallery wrapped canvas. The painting goes around the sides of the canvas as shown above. It is finished with gloss acrylic varnish.

 

 

 

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Ten mandalas, five kinds of energy

Ten mandalas feels like quite a milestone. Here I wanted to put them together and explore the relationships between them. As I look back at them, I see that the mandalas have different kinds of energy in them.

There are two that are really forceful, and dramatic. These are Angry and Impact.

These mandalas have the highest energy levels; the energy is inspiring, but can also be intrusive and uncomfortable.

Then there are two which also have lots of energy, but it’s a lighter, more boyant energy. These are Joy and Exuberant.

In these there is a happy, swirling movement; still filled with energy, but with elements of freedom and fun.

The energy in Love and Growing is about a sense of progress, of slow movement, with the results becoming evident over time.

Here we sense the energy as calm, but powerful. The movement is not obvious, but inexorable.

The next type of energy shows up in Hope and Harmony.

These two mandalas have a vibrational energy. There is not much movement, but there is a sort of background hum to each of them. Tiny, repeated movements that have a cumulative effect.

And finally, in Happy and Peace we see a stillness. These are states of contentment.

There is little movement in these mandalas. Rather they represent ideal or perfect states without striving, or any need for change.

I have started working on my next set of mandalas, filling in some gaps that I see in the series thus far. I look forward to sharing them here soon.

Mandala No.9: Angry

Angry small
Mandala No.9: Angry by Judy Backhouse (copyright)

I thought I ought to try my hand at one of the darker feelings, so here is Angry.

Anger is forceful. Like a fire, it creates heat. But we contain anger, we don’t want it to escape, or become visible, and so the fire is held back by a solid ring that is equally powerful. The result is pressure as the fire rages within and effort expended in containing it. This mandala represents this tension.

At the centre of anger is a black core. This is the source of the anger. It may be some hurt or some injustice, but it is compressed into a black crystalline shape that emits no light.

Angry detail 7
The black core of Angry

From this centre emanates a fierce, hot fire that fills the square space around the core.

Angry detail 15
The hot fire at the centre of Angry

From four doors, one on each side of the central square, the fire bursts out in glorious red and orange flames.

Angry detail 2
The flames burst out…

But these flames encounter the solid outer ring. Here you can see the flames illuminating the inside edge of that containing force.

Angry detail 3
…but are stopped by the outer ring

This angry drama plays out against a rich background of blues, purples and deep reds. While the dark colours reflect the dark thoughts that accompany anger, there is an energy to anger, that is represented by flashes of gold. Anger can be inspiring, it can move us to action, and this positive side of anger is represented by the gold.

Angry detail 6
The rich background of Angry

Angry is painted in acrylics on a 50cm x 50cm stretched canvas and finished with gloss acrylic varnish. Although I do paint around the edges of the canvas, it would be best displayed in a gold or black frame.

Many of my mandalas, including Angry, have no “correct” orientation. For this reason I sign them on the back, where the name of the work and the date also appear.

Mandala’s 7 and 8 are coming soon. Angry just got finished first. It seemed to have more energy!

Mandala No.5: Growing

Growing
Mandala No.5: Growing by Judy Backhouse (copyright)

Growing is such a powerful idea. I think about plants and how insistent they are, pushing up paving and cracking rocks. I remember being pregnant and how this tiny new human took over my body, relentlessly elbowing me into shape as his life-support system. Growing is about the power inherent in biological processes. Fragile-seeming strands reach outwards slowly, but with great determination. Almost nothing can stop growth.

This mandala was inspired by growing things, by the wondeful variety of shapes that growing things come in and their power to expand and become what they were designed to be, following some secret inner plan.

Grow detail 3

Growing features green (obviously), and the drama of red, but also shades of pink and mauve, contrasting areas of flat colour with areas of texture.

Grow detail 2

This Mandala deviates from the traditional circle design and uses instead two overlapping Reuleaux triangles. These fabulous shapes are made by joining three arcs with the centre of each arc being at the corners of an equilateral triangle. They are similar to circles in that you can put parallel lines on either side of the shape (but touching it) and the distance between the parallel lines will always be the same, no matter how the Reuleaux triangle is orientated.

Mandala No.5: Growing is painted in acrylics on a 50cm x 50cm stretched canvas. Although I have painted around the edge of the canvas, it is not gallery-wrapped, so this work would probably look best framed in a white floating frame.