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Sunday, April 3, 2011


Guess which new book I picked up to read yesterday. You've got it. The Zen of Creative Painting,An Elegant Design for Revealing Your Muse by Jeanne Carbonetti.

First off, Carbonetti's watercolors are magnificently uninhibited and free with beautiful colors and spiritual in feeling--suitable illustrations for her book. I have no buts here. I just thought I'd tell you her work is lovely.

That said, I'm a skeptic. After a whole lot of spiritual oriented writing, the kind that would make Spock go blah, blah blah on to the next paragraph where maybe there would be some solid information, (the word concrete just passed through my mind as I wrote that last sentence;I chose solid instead. Both words should give you a clue as to my state of mind and the reason a book of this type might be helpful to such a doubting Thomas), I finally got to page 48 where Cabonetti got down to methods one might use to find one's muse. She discussed mandalas and advised students to make one. My interest was peaked. I got out my markers.

As directed, I took twenty minutes (timed) away in a quite place to draw L.W.Roth's Mandala #1. As directed I used markers--I could have used crayons and colored pencils, but no paint. There should be no interruptions for drying time. There should be no recognizable forms drawn like cats and dogs and trees, just abstract forms beginning with any form that comes to mind.

I started my mandala with a square, the form I always choose for canvases and the one I end up with when I crop photographs. I like squares, they're static, stable forms that won't roll away from you. But then I drew arcs and they formed a circle within which I placed a square and an X or cross. My last move was to put four corners on my circle/square. WHAT DOES ALL THAT MEAN ALFIE? Where's Carl Jung when you need him? My point is: What does this mandala, done while I'm a bit under-the-weather which could definitely be a factor, reveal about L.W.Roth?

The author tells me I have to read more:

Mandalas are art forms that can put meaning into concrete [there's that word again--but from her pen, not mine], forms of beauty based upon our universal understanding of the principles of visual harmony. Let's examine those principles,for beauty is the harmony of all the parts of the whole.

With my day's work laid out, I looked up Zen Buddhism in the dictionary--the philosophy basically says enlightenment is attained through meditation, self contemplation and intuition. I intuit that's where Carbonetti is headed.


  1. Look around in the Carbonetti bibliography and tell me if you see the name Joan Kellogg. She's the psychologist that started all the mandala stuff, with respect to the Jungian archetypal mind--the universality of certain imagery (including color itself) recurring through all cultures and all times. Joan's work had to do with the universality of the circular (actually spherical) shape with respect to specific personal characteristics etc. down to very accurate clinical identification of mental illnesses. Colors mean things generally universally, but in the case of diagnostics there are nuances, obviously. Mandalas can be read by the trained eye like a map. Everything placed within that circle contributes. Mandalas provide more direct access to much deeper regions of the psyche than mere verbal communication. Through the use of Mandala making Joan was able to help a lot of people. I studied with her in the early 70's. Look her up! What a wonderful topic. I'm so glad you brought it up!

  2. I'm glad you're glad--but am I glad I published my first mandala? Maybe it's too revealing to be shared with the world? I'll look Joan up.