Kathryn Costa is an artist, writer, and educator whose passion can be summed up in three little words, “create and connect.” Since she started blogging in 2008, Kathryn has inspired people from more than 75 countries with her personal stories and artwork. Her positive outlook on life shines through in her work and invites her readers to pause, listen, and make deep soulful connections. There is a sense of adventure and playfulness in Kathryn’s approach that inspires even the most “reluctant creative.” Kathryn’s workshops have helped hundreds of people to find clarity, let go of fear, embrace their dreams, and explore their creativity. Kathryn lives in the Northeast region of the US with her Brazilian husband, Fernando. Discover Kathryn’s newest project, the 100 Mandalas Challenge at www.100mandalas.org.
Tell us about your mandala practice. Why do you do it and what inspires you to keep going?
I first learned about mandalas 17 years ago when I was teaching a high school graphic design program. The art teacher on staff told me about how in art school she had a teacher assigned a daily mandala practice based on the work of Swiss Psychologist Carl Jung. My first mandala project was a collaborative project where my 18 graphic design students were given a large piece of paper with a circle drawn on it and they worked together to design a mandala. Since then the mandala has been a design motif and object for reflection in my work.
Most recently in October 2014, I launched a challenge to create 100 mandalas in 100 days. For the challenge, I research and experiment with different art techniques and themes and post these ideas on a weekly basis for others who want to take the challenge.
I love my mandala practice. When I sit down to create a mandala, I find it deeply relaxing. If I’m creating in the morning, it gives me an opportunity to check in on how I’m feeling and sometimes I’ll get ideas of creative ideas that I want to explore in the day. If I’m creating a mandala at the end of the day, it offers me some quiet time to reflect on my day. I always walk away from my mandala practice filled up with a sense of accomplishment, deep relaxation and joy. It has been so much fun sharing my mandala practice with others online and seeing them experience the same effects.
You offer so many themes over at your website, www.100mandalas.org, what is your go-to theme when you pick up the pen to draw?
I often start by pulling out my compass to draw a circle and will break it up into either six or twelve sections. From there I simply doodle and draw a pattern starting from the center and working my way out. I like to allow my intuition to be my guide. I’ll reach for markers, colored pencils and different colors depending on what catches my fancy at the moment.
Can someone begin a practice of living intentionally by drawing mandalas? How?
Most definitely! While drawing and coloring mandalas, one can observe their thoughts and feelings. It is a time for tuning in, listening, and “being still.” In my mandala practice I reflect on my day and explore how I want to live my life. I’ll set positive intentions for my day, week, and month. The first intention I set was to make time each day for my creativity by drawing a mandala. Another recent example was the intention of inviting grace into my life. I look for signs of grace in my day and I seek to be graceful in my interactions with others. In my mandala practice as I draw and color, I think about my day and consider the moments of grace.
What is your advice to those who want to inculcate creativity in their everyday life but don’t have the time for it?
Often people associate creativity with a specific activity like drawing, painting, and mandala making. “Being creative” is really a matter of living a creative life and it is about how one approaches living. If you are the type of person who follows instructions and rules literally and don’t think of yourself as creative, I encourage you to start with those instructions and rules and then allow your mind to wander and playfully consider the possibilities. Look for alternatives and variations. Living creatively can extend to all aspects of one’s life from how you dress and arrange the food on your plate, to doing just about any task.
If you want to find more time each day for an artful activity like creating a mandala a day, I suggest the following:
- GET ORGANIZED: Collect the basic materials you’ll need for the activity you want to do each day. I have a table that is dedicated to my mandala practice where I keep my basic supplies handy. Whenever I have a moment to create, everything is within hands reach and I can get to work without having to take the time to find what I need.
- MAKE IT PORTABLE: With mandala making, you don’t need much to get started. A simple pencil case can hold your tools including a pencil, eraser, black fine point pen, compass, ruler, and some colored pencils or markers. You can keep this in your purse and pull it out in those unexpected moments when you have to wait. For example sitting in the doctor’s office waiting for an appointment or on a lunch break.
- START SMALL: Working in a small journal makes it easy to complete a mandala in 15-20 minutes.
- CHALLENGE YOURSELF: Dare yourself to take 15-20 minutes each day to create.
- SCHEDULE IT: If you are a morning person, I suggest you schedule your 15-20 minutes in the morning. If you are a night person, then certainly don’t try to schedule your daily creative practice in the morning.
- UNPLUG: How much time is wasted sitting in front of the TV or computer reading e-mails and Facebook posts? When you unplug, you’ll find that you have a lot of free time for creativity
When you begin making time for creativity, you’ll find that you’ll seek out more and more time for it. It is so relaxing, fun, and good for your body, mind, and spirit.