Mandala No.16: Intersect

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Mandala No.16: Intersect by Judy Backhouse (copyright)

I wanted to play with those Reuleaux triangles again, and this mandala started out as an experiment to see how they fitted into the square of the canvas. There are four of them, one with a point in the middle of each side. It gave an intruiging result, with the appearance of layers of almost squares. I added lines that complemented the edges of the triangles and the painting evolved into an exploration of intersections.

Intersections are about choices: Do you follow the path you are on? Do you choose another one? Which one will you choose?

It’s a messy picture, full of energy with the lines on the outside moving busily around the picture, containing the outward energy in the centre. For me it echos the busyness of living in the city where one moves along set paths, but with constant intersections which invite you to take another path, to explore something new. I find as I look at the painting that my eyes follow the lines up to an intersection and then swoop off in another direction.

Mandala No.16: Intersect is painted in acrylic paint and finished in gloss acrylic varnish on a 50 cm x 50 cm gallery-wrapped canvas. The painting continues around the edge of the canvas as shown below. This mandala is signed on the back and could be hung in any direction.

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For those of you who noticed that Mandala No.15 is missing, well spotted! It’s called Focus, and so is a bit more intense and taking longer to finish.

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Mandala No.8: Love

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Mandala No.8: Love by Judy Backhouse (copyright)

Finally, here is Love. A mandala that I have been lavishing loving attention on for some time now.

Love is represented by the traditional heart shape, but these hearts have swelled up like ripe fruit. Love is fruitful. Love underlies all creative endeavours. Creativity is driven by love, as is so nicely captured in this quote:

“To be creative means to be in love with life. You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it.” Osho

At the heart of the picture, inside the central square, is one of these heart-fruits, surrounded by rays of gold. This square has a white background, emphasising the golden rays. Love has this quality of warmth. From wherever it originates, it spreads out and impacts on everything in its path. To be surrounded by loving people always has a positive impact, if you are in the way of that love.

Instead of the traditional four doors or gates, there are four fat, ripe, heart-fruit on a background of textured green. The fruit are connected by a vine. They grow together. Beyond the circle of green the rays of gold continue, on a muted pale ochre background. The warmth of the golden rays is still there, but you will feel it less the further you are from the source.

Love is painted in acrylics on a 50cm x 50cm gallery-wrapped canvas and finished with a matt acrylic varnish. The rays of gold continue around the edge of the painting as shown.

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Mandala No.7: Hope

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Mandala No.7: Hope by Judy Backhouse (copyright)

This may not look like hope at first glance. Several people have said to me “but that’s not hopeful”. Bear with me on this.

Hope has been one of the most difficult mandala’s to work on. I struggled with how to represent it because for me, hope is something that emerges, and is most valued, in the dark times. So I didn’t want to use the happy colours that are often associated with hope. Hope, for me, goes hand-in-hand with despair. It’s when life is particularly bleak that those tiny glimmers of hope mean so much. This is when hope, however faint, has kept me going, given me a reason to get up. At such times, even the tiniest flicker of hope stands out because it contrasts with the way I feel.

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Hope shows up when things are darkest

This mandala represents a moving towards the light – a progression from darkness into light and it is the little glimmers of bright yellow hope that move the eye inwards. The yellow vibrates, the greys get lighter, there is a bright centre to aspire to. This, for me, is what hope is all about.

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Hope moves one from dark towards the light

The repeated circles and squares create a vibration too; it appears as though there are rays of light radiating from the centre outwards along the diagonals.

Hope is a little uneven; sometimes thick and obvious, sometimes just a hint of a line.

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Hope is a little uneven…

Mandala No.7: Hope is painted in acrylics on a 50cm x 50cm stretched canvas. Although I have painted around the edge of the canvas in black, it would probably look best framed in a white floating frame. The canvas is signed and dated on the back.

Mandala No.9: Angry

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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.

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The black core of Angry

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

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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.

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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.

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…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.

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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.6: Exuberant

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Mandala No.6: Exuberant by Judy Backhouse (copyright)

Exuberant is very much like happy, but with a quality of excess, of wildness, of liveliness. According to the Oxford dictionary, exuberant means “lively and cheerful” or “growing profusely” and derives from words meaning “overflowing” and “abundantly fruitful”.

In this mandala, the traditional four doors are replaced with a bursting out of green, not only beyond the containing circle, but out beyond the frame of the picture. The vines have gone wild, looping, curling and squiggling with playful life, off the edge of the canvas and back again. Whoosh! Whee!

Exuberant makes use of my happy colours – yellows and oranges, sky blues and fresh green. In the centre is a cheerful orange and yellow flower surrounded by growing green. The blue surround gives an impression of water supporting all that growth.

Exuberant is painted on a 50cm x 50cm gallery wrapped canvas and the exuberant vines go over the edge and back on three sides. It is finished in gloss acrylic varnish.

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Mandala No.4: Joy

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Mandala No4: Joy by Judy Backhouse (copyright)

Joy is something much deeper than happiness. It has rich colours; deep brick red, magenta, and orange. The colours of joy are textured, they are not the simple, clear colours that I used in the Happy mandala. Joy cannot be contained. It spills out of the edges of the circle and the colours splash over each other.

This mandala has a simple structure with the outward movement reflecting the sense that joy wells up in the centre and flows towards the edges of the canvas. The curves create a sense of dancing for joy.

Joy is painted in acrylics on an ordinary stretched 50cm x 50cm canvas. Although I have painted around the edge of the canvas, it would probably be best displayed in a dark floating frame.

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