Sunday, April 26, 2009


grounded in the light mandalaGrounded in the Light - (Mandalas for Peace ) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2009
source image: Northern California beach sand

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.
~William Blake

I was asked by another artist over on Twitter how I got into mandala making. My reply was that it was more like mandala making got into me.

My first experience with the holy circle was in the late '90s when I had the opportunity to take a mandala workshop facilitated by a woman who was certified by Judith Cornell. If you have never seen examples of Judith Cornell's style, take a look at Caterina Martinico's work. I became fascinated working with in the confines of completeness in other art work I did, but it wasn't until I got my first computer and discovered the Earth Mandalas website that I knew I had to learn how to use Photoshop.

Fast forward a few years to 2005.

I went back to school for training in digital media and desktop publishing after a series of work layoffs had left me feeling ready for learning something new. After the end of my first semester in Photoshop, I remembered the Earth Mandala website and decided to spend some time learning how to make these mandalas. While developing this skill I began envisioning possibilities of getting my art out into the world. I took a second semester in Photoshop to further develop my skills and used blogging on Xanga as a way of developing confidence in my art.

It wasn't until I was diagnosed with a benign tumor on my carotid artery in 2006 that I began to feel like mandala making was a true calling. I turned my will and my care over to my faith in the Universe and did what I needed to do to have the surgery I needed. It was a demonstration in how we are taken care of if we allow it to happen. The allowing is the hardest and not without those dark moments of the soul. I am still learning to travel within the Unknown, and today I would say I do it with a bit more grace and strength than I did five years ago.

I am coming upon the 3rd anniversary of the diagnosis of my tumor and I am once again unemployed.My employer's decision was totally unexpected, and I find I am not fighting against the decision. There are moments of anger, but mostly I feel steady and optimistic that still more doors are waiting to open. My new printer will arrive any day now along with paper and packing supplies. I am looking towards selling more of my art. I am excited you get to share my developments with me here.

The message I have today is to keep the faith and follow those dreams.

Never ever give up! ~ Winston Churchill

~Sue O'Kieffe
Sacred Circle Mandalas


healingmagichands said...

first of all, I have to say the beach sand mandala is quite amazing. I thoroughly enjoyed following the links you posted today.

Mandalas are certainly a wonderful tool for becoming centered and serene.

My wishes for your continued good health. I hope that your new printer will open doors to earning that weren't there before. Perhaps it will turn out that losing your job will be a blessing. I know that being fired from my office job right after I finished my massage certification really pushed me towards actually earning my living doing massage. If my job had not evaporated, would I have thrown myself into it quite so hard? I don't know. But I did, and here I am. I always tell people to do what they love, and the money will come. I know I'm not the first one to say that, but I really do believe it.

NineTomatoes said...

I like the way you tell your story. It's been so true for me, too, that allowing/trusting comes with darkness. But that's exactly how the trust builds. Fascinating and oddly related to the creation of mandalas. Rejoicing with you as you stand at this new fork in your road! It's a blessing, I'm sure.

tammy vitale said...

I like Nine Tomatoes: "Rejoicing as you stand at theis new fork in your road" both for you and for myself. I'm finding that the larger economic situation is opening new ways of seeing and being, and, tantalizingly, of supporting myself. I don't know how these things work. I wish I could say I flow along without kicking and screaming, but there's a lot of kicking and screaming from time to time. I guess that's part of it all too. Here's to good health! and great things to come.

Erik said...

I just found your site. I find your work intriguing and amazing. I am sorry to hear of your unemployment. I wish you much health and joy in your life's path.

Shannon said...

Congratulations on losing your job! It was one of the best gifts I was given in my life as an artist. May you bloom and grow even more! How is it even possible? I will watch and see!

Erik said...

Come to think of it, I agree with Shannon. Unemployment is one of the most wonderful gifts. If it hadn't been for my wife not working after 9/11, we never would have had the opportunity to travel with Cirque du Soleil.

John said...


healingmagichands said...

Niether Jim nor I have a regular "job". Being self employed at home as a massage therapist gives me lots of time to devote to growing our food and creating beauty around me.

I have come back to this site almost every day, eagerly awaiting the next mandala. Instead, I have been spending more and more time to studying this one, and now I am glad there wasn't a new one too soon. The more I look at this, the more I see. It amazes me how this array of sand grains contains what appear to be full figures, faces, animals, and more. The pattern pulls you around and around, and spirals in and out. this really aids in attaining a meditative state.

Thank you.

Sue O'Kieffe said...

thanks everyone for the comments you left here. i don't often post really private stuff on my blog, but it just felt right for me to do so. i do feel like this has been a positive event which provides me with yet another opportunity to walk my walk and talk my talk and explore my faith in an ever expanding way.

Artist Victoria O'Neill said...

Hello Sue, a friend just sent me a link to here and what a great way to start my morning.....I'm in the midst of participating in a mandala art swap on small cards through the CreativeSouls.ning group which is open to all. Visit my art blog for links and details. I love love love your mandalas. Sorry about the job loss, but the old saying about one door closing and another opening is just so darn true!

Diane Clancy said...

Dear Sue,

Thank you so much for sharing with us!! Three years is great - you have created so much beauty and inspiration!!

I am sorry about your job - wow! But I am delighted for you that you are staying aligned and I know you will be in the flow and cared for.

~ Diane Clancy

Anonymous said...

Hi Sue,
Thanks for calling me back. (smile) Your history gives me a better insight of the connection of mandalas to your personal life. Time to recenter and on to new beginnings.

painter ofblue said...


Thank you for sharing your journey! It makes your work even more meaningful to me. It's amazing how many people have had health issues transform their lives in a positive way. I'm excited for your printer and
I also needed that message from Churchill today.