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The Mandala Lady::Art for the well-being of your heart, mind, and soul

The Artist: Maureen Frank

That's me coloring at an art show All my life I've dabbled in art. As a kid I copied and drew cartoon characters; Snoopy was my favorite. I did all types of craft projects: mosaics, paint by number, knitting, crocheting, and sand paintings. In my teenage years, I began drawing the faces of the latest teen idols found in the latest teen magazines. [If I were to name them here, I would truly be dating myself which is beyond my objective for this page.]

After college and into my adult years, for fun, I attended a variety of art classes at community colleges in L.A. and Florida: beginning drawing, landscapes, portraits, pastels, and stylized painting using oil paints. While I learned something from all of them [mostly techniques], I felt like an artist without a subject. I could create art if I wanted but I had yet to find anything that truly captured my interest.

For most of my adult life, I was a computer programmer, then software engineer [Hughes Aircraft, Radar Systems Division, which has since been bought out by Raytheon], and then a web "goddess" analyst [Martin County, FL]. In other words, I became a computer geek, very left brain. I have the aptitude for it and it's fun & challenging to do.

By mid 1998 I had won a facial at a silent auction. I rarely win things. During my facial, as Jillian was poking, prodding, washing, massaging and doing other such things to my face, she mentioned that she also does Reiki. "What's that?", I asked. "Consider it an energy massage for your body but without me actually touching your physical body."

Intrigued by this, I made an appointment for my first ever Reiki session. At the very least it was relaxing and soothing; great ambiance and mood music too. Jillian 'massaged' me for almost an hour. When she was done, she had me sit up on the table and looked me straight in the eye. Firmly and directly she told me, "You're not to go home! You're to go straight to the book store and buy a coloring book and some crayons! You're not using the creative side of your brain."

It so stunned me that I felt like my only option was to do exactly what she said. I bought a Crayola 64 crayon set (I always wanted this set...it has the built-in sharpener in the back of the box) and a couple of Animaniacs coloring books. I began to color.

I quickly found that the crayons were limiting...it was difficult to color in any details with them. So I bought a set of colored pencils. They were better but because they were a cheap set, I found it difficult to do anything interesting with them. I then bought a better set of pencils. Now, we're talking.

Then I became bored with the coloring books. I loved the Animanics but I felt like I needed something more challenging to color. It was then that I walked into a new age book store in Stuart, Florida, and found and bought a mandala coloring book. This was the first time I had ever heard of mandalas. Now this was something I could really enjoy coloring. I loved the patterns and playing with colors. It was very freeing because it lacked any specific object (birds, trees, etc.); I could use whatever colors I wanted.

Then to my amazement, I became bored with these mandalas. Now what? I came to the realization that I needed to create my own mandalas. It was around this time when we were to embark on a journey to Egypt. I instinctively knew that going there would be the trigger, the spark, that would allow me to start creating my own mandala designs.

Nile Shore In early 1999, my husband, Gerry, and I traveled to Egypt. I thought that I would only be interested in seeing the pyramids, the sphinx and the heiroglyphic drawings. As it turned out, it was everything! I became completely mesmorized and enamored with all the Middle Eastern geometric patterns found in the mosques, Coptic churches and the markets, along with the Egyptian symbols and heiroglyphs found on temple columns, walls, ceilings, tombs, and in view practically everywhere we went.

It was Egypt where I found my art and my heart. I was now an artist with a subject! I drew my first mandala while going up the Nile on our 'cruise' ship. Every time we sailed during daylight hours, I situated myself front and center outside on the top level of the ship. I felt like royalty. I had a commanding view of both shores of the Nile, and the river up ahead.

Nile Shore At times it was like traveling back in time to 3,000 years ago. Along the shore were people working the fields in traditional clothing, hauling their crops on their heads, and on donkeys and camels. Of course, I would then be brought back to the present when I'd see a factory smokestack off in the distance spewing out black smoke into the otherwise ancient pristine air. Ah, progress.

I've been creating mandalas ever since I returned from Egypt. Everytime I think I'll run out of ideas, I'll have a dream where thousands of them just flashing in front of my eyes; letting me know there's an endless supply just waiting to be made manifest. If only I had a video camera hooked into my head to record them all.

In early 2000, we moved to Oregon [that's another story for another page]. I met my new best friend, Angelica, the first week we were there. She introduced me to the concept of "coning" and "soil-less gardens." In a nutshell...it's about treating every project as if it were a garden and to connect with the nature spirits related to that "garden", making it an active meditation.

With the addition of the coning process, it was now more than just playing with patterns and designs. I was bringing in the spiritual aspect to the mandalas. It was the missing ingredient. I could draw the lines, circles, and patterns however they were lacking any real meaning or significance. Once I applied this meditation process to the mandalas, they took on a whole new life, a whole new energy. [eventually I'll provide a link to a page that shows the before/after effect of this process.]

I then started producing one mandala after another, mainly for myself. I soon realized that maybe people might be interested in seeing and/or buying them. I joined the Corvallis Art Guild and evenutally the Colored Pencil Society of America and its local chapter DC201 I also participated in a several art & craft shows.

It was around this time that I had the feeling these mandalas had messages. As a began thinking about each mandala, words and phrases came to mind for each one. They were affirmations; messages of inspiration and motivation.

I started putting the messages and mandalas together in cards and prints. I actively participated in art & craft shows around western Oregon and along the coast. I had my own booth, with a canopy, tables, and panels. I officially became an artist. Ta Da!

One day while coloring "Authentic Self", I had the thought "what if people don't like the colors I'm using?" Another voice said, "Let them color their own." Aha! I then created the "color your own" greeting cards, prints, and coloring books.

With the introduction of colorings books and "color your own" cards, my art became more than just me explore my creative side, it was and is now about encouraging others to explore their own creativity. I would say that half of my customers want mandalas that are already colored, the other half want to color. It's all good.

In the fall of 2006, a storefront in downtown Corvallis became available. It's one of those things that I was hesitant to leap at and at the same time I knew I had to go for it. With much help from Gerry, we opened my studio & shoppe on December 8. It made a huge difference. Prior to that I was hidden at home doing my thing. Now I'm "out of the closet", so to speak. This is yet another step along my journey of life.

After 26 months and with much joy, I closed my downtown Corvallis shoppe. Having the shopped was a great experience and definitely worthwhile. I met lots of new people and hopefully influenced many to pursue coloring as a creative outlet. My quest is to do e-tailing and find appropriate retail outlets for my coloring books and greeting cards so that I could focus on creating more art. Since closing, many opportunties have arisen, thus validating that closing the shoppe was a wise decision.

Another new focus is on creating community art projects that involve more than just local people. Four projects are slated for 2009.

Where this leads to next, is, at the moment, beyond my imagination. As it unfolds, I'll share it with you here.


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