Mandala Magic

Creating Mandalas

The "Mandala Magic" pathfinder is intended to guide people who are interested in creating or coloring their own mandalas for stress relief and meditation. This is a somewhat obscure subject, so the sources come from many places, including YouTube. Some of the books included are old and hard to find, but they are available  through interlibrary loan ~ except the coloring books!

Now, it is time to begin the journey...again.

Introduction to Mandalas 

Argüelles, José and Miriam. Mandala. Berkeley and London: Shambhala, 1972.

An in-depth exploration of the mandala and its spiritual implications by artists. Filled with drawings, poetry, and full-color illustrations, it is a classic work on this subject. Available at the UAlbany library for regular loan.


"Creating the World Again and Again." The Chronicle of Higher Education 46.46 (2000): B64. Fine Arts and Music Collection. Web. 29 June 2011.

“THE MANDALA [is] a sacred space created in the process of transforming the universe from a realm of suffering to a realm of happiness.” The opening line of this short article, available through the Fine Arts and Music Collection database (through the Guilderland Public Library website), states in few words the essence of mandala. When you create a mandala, you are creating a miniature world, and in doing so you transform your Self.  This article gives good background information on what mandalas are and how they have been used in various cultures throughout the world.

Mandalas and Art Therapy 

Fincher, Susanne F. Creating Mandalas for Insight, Healing, and Self-Expression. Boston and London: Shambhala, 1991.

Susanne Fincher began creating mandalas while grieving the loss of her child and marriage, and the process helped her so much that she went on to become an art therapist. This book introduces mandalas, then tells you how to create and interpret your own.


Cathy Malchiodi, “Cool Art Therapy Intervention #6: Mandala Drawing,” The Healing Arts:The Restoring Power of Imagination (blog), Psychology Today, March 17, 2010,

Art therapist Cathy Malchiodi gives background information on the mandala in psychology and art therapy, emphasizing that the true power of the mandala lies in its creation, not the interpretation of the final product. She then tells you what you need to start creating mandalas on your own.

YouTube Videos

“How to Grow a Mandala,” YouTube video, 5:01, Uploaded by “ExpressingtheSelf” on Oct 27, 2009,

A hypnotic video showing a simple way to create beautiful mandalas. It is so simple that even those who insist they have no artistic ability will not be afraid to try it.


“Sand Mandalas,” YouTube video, 5:18, Uploaded by “mesuot,” on Jun 14, 2007,

Eitan Kedmy creates a sand mandala and speaks about what mandalas are and what happens inside him as he works on one. After he finishes he dismantles the mandala and returns it to the earth, explaining why he does this.


“Zendalas: How to Draw a Mandala Zentangle Style,” YouTube video, 8:32, Uploaded by “Milliande” on July 21, 2008,

A more freestyle way to create mandalas, using the “Zentangle” style of doodling with intent. As with “How to Grow a Mandala,” simplicity of shape is emphasized, which encourages you to try it. What have you got to lose? Nothing!

Inspiration and Execution

Appleton, LeRoy H. American Indian Design and Decoration. New York: Dover Publications, 1971.

Available through the UHLS System (Troy Public Library owns a copy), this book provides ideas for American Indian-themed patterns to use in creating your own mandalas.


Gofukuten, Matsuya, translated by Fumie Adachi. Japanese Design Motifs: 4,260 Illustrations of Heraldic Crests. New York: Dover Publications, 1972.

Available through the UHLS System (Colonie). Another Dover publication fertile with design ideas. You can never have too much inspiration.


Jones, Owen. The Grammar of Ornament: A Unique Collection of More than 2,350 Classic Patterns. New York: DK Publishing, 2001.

A reprint of the 1856 classic work, this book is one I find indispensible. It is a constant source of inspiration (and frustration—because some of these designs are incredibly complex!). Sometimes all it takes is a glance in this book to get an idea for pattern, and then it takes on a life of its own.


 Jung, Carl Gustav. The Red Book. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2009.

Handwritten in German and illuminated with amazing, colorful drawings by (the brilliant psychoanalyst) Carl Jung. The massive tome comes in two parts: a facsimile of the original manuscript and a typeset English translation. The appendix contains examples of Jung’s mandala drawings. An incredible book.


Kobayashi, Shigenobu. A Book of Colors. Tokyo, New York, and London: Kodansha International, 1987.

This is a practical, easy-to-follow guide to color—how to combine colors, what color combinations produce what effects, and basic color theory. Sometimes I love color a little too much, and want to throw in everything…this book helps to curb the impulse.


Mirow, Gregory. A Treasury of Design for Artists and Craftsmen. New York: Dover Publications, 1969.

Another Dover publication, I know. But these inexpensive books live up to the name of “treasury.” It isn’t about copying designs, it’s about getting inspiration—sometimes about getting unstuck. I love this book because it has paisley designs in it.


Murray, Kim and Chris. Illuminations from the Bhagavad-Gita. New York: Harper & Row, 1980.

This is the book that started it all for me. I found it in a used bookshop in Ithaca, NY, and was immediately captivated by the colorful, rich designs (and the quotes from the Bhagavad-Gita). Within a month of buying this book, I had started drawing mandalas, using patterns contained in the edgework.  


Tarbox, Charlene. Floral designs and motifs for artists, needleworkers, and craftspeople. New York: Dover Publications, 1981.

Available through the UHLS System (Colonie). This book presents detailed flower designs. Flowers are natural mandalas, and make excellent centers for your design.


Handmade Shoes, “Mandalas,” accessed June 29, 2011.

Examples of “nontraditional” mandalas. These are my own work, started in 2003 when I was going through a very stressful time. I spontaneously started creating art in circles, and later learned that others had done much the same during stressful periods or periods of transformation in their lives.


The Mandala Project, accessed June 29, 2011.

The Mandala Project started many years ago and provides an online sharing space where people from all over the world display their mandalas. The website discusses what mandalas are and the gallery includes hundreds of examples.

Pre-Drawn Mandalas for Coloring and Mandala Coloring Books

The Coloring Castle; “Mandala Coloring Pages,” accessed June 29, 2011.

Twenty-four fairly intricate mandala designs that you can print and color. These are also good pages to get ideas as you draw your own mandalas.


Mandalarbre; “How to Download 24 Colouring Mandalas…,” accessed June 29, 2011.

Intricate mandalas that seem to be inspired by Celtic knot work. Not all of the designs are clickable, and this can be frustrating. However, there are plenty that do work, and they are free, after all.


Blau, Tatjana. Tibetan Mandalas. New York: Sterling, 2008.

A selection of simplified Tibetan mandalas (the ones you see the monks making with colored sand) for coloring and meditation.


Dahlke, Rudiger. Mandalas of the World: A Meditating and Painting Guide. New York: Sterling, 1992.

Available through, this book is recommended for its breadth of vision, portraying mandala styles from many different cultures.