Sunday, December 30, 2007


new year's eve mandalaNew Year's Eve Mandala - (Seasonal Circle series) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2007
source image - fiddlehead fern

Debi Cates' love of grasses inspired this particular mandala, taken from a photograph of an unfolding fiddlehead fern. I love spirals and fibonacci numbers and finding them appear in nature. I've talked about feeling contemplative and introspective the past few days. I've not only wanted to gather before me what I accomplished this past year, but feel into my intent for the coming year. I've had lots of different adjectives come up for me to describe my desire for 2008, but nothing really felt "right" to me, until I read Christine Kane's blog on the Resolution Revolution. If you do not already read Christine Kane's blog, I would heartily recommend adding her humor and wisdom to your blog reading list.

So below is my resume, if you will, of my life in 2007. I would love it if you would share some of your own highlights here, or on your own blog, or both!

2007 was a year of HEALING from the past and AFFIRMING the new
Recovered from major surgery
Launched a greeting card business
Participated in an Artists in Business focus group (ongoing thru March 2008)
Developed an art blog and a community of readers
Started posting Photoshop tutorials on my blog on a semi-regular basis
Was featured in four local art shows
Submitted a mandala to an art show for digital artists in Fresno, CA that had an international call for submissions and guaranteed acceptance
Established three local wholesale accounts for my greeting cards
Sold my holiday greeting cards to a highly desirable local retail gift shop (my big goal fulfilled for the year)
Gained greater confidence in my art's desirability
Began conversation with a manufacturer of home furnishings about licensing my art to her

Returned to the work force after a five year period of reinvention and transformation


Tomorrow I will post my intents for 2008. I will tell you right now it begins with having F U N!


angel lightAngel Light Mandala - (Seasonal Circles series) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2007
source image: holly leaf

Where there is great love, there are always miracles
~ Willa Cather

I created six greeting cards for the holidays this year. Of them, this was my favorite, and it is also my offering for today's holiday mandala. When I was creating it, it was such a pleasure for me to see the angels and doves being birthed into creation. I never know until the very end of the mandala making process what is going to appear or how I will feel about the image. Usually I sense something in the photograph of the source image I use, a sort of murmuring "use me, pick me" that will lead me on the journey of creation.

I used to wait until the golden hour, that magical time a few hours before sunset, to go out on my photoshoots; but sometime during this past year I began taking photos in nature that were more saturated in light. Often those images don't really work for mandalas, but the exploration brings me more flexibility in my schedule. It also sparked the tagline for my blog ... circles of light inspired by nature.

I think of myself as a holder of the Light, and so do these natural elements.

And so, my fellow travelers, I am curious to know what kind of leaps you have taken that have brought you to a closer reflection of your true creative voice?

Saturday, December 29, 2007


window dressing

Window Dressing

pen and ink, crayola 'silver swirl' crayons
© Sue O'Kieffe 2007

Fellow Minnesotan Deb Kirkeeide (whose last name is almost as challenging to spell as mine!) of Painting du Jour has tagged me. Here are the 'rules'

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 5 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 5 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog

Some fun facts about me:

  • When I was in junior high school, I drew flowers on my legs and then went shopping for shoes at Southdale (the first covered mall in the United States) with my best friend Sandy. I'm a doodler from way back!
  • I grew up in Minnesota, moved to Iowa when I was twenty three, and have lived on the North Coast of California since 1985. I can't imagine a more beautiful place to live. This is home.
  • In July 2001, right before my 50th birthday, I had my aura read and was told in five years I wouldn't even recognize my life. In July 2006 I was beginning to affirm my new life as an artist and waiting to undergo life- transforming surgery. What a difference five years makes!
  • My favorite vegetables are the three A's - asparagus, artichokes, and avocados
  • Before I became a digital artist, I loved beadwork, collage, embroidery and mosaic making. And doodling!
I am tagging:
Kris Cahill
Susan Elkin
Sweet Irene

I know I have a lot brewing just below the surface, but thoughts aren't coming easily for me. I am putting myself in a position of being an introspective observer as I contemplate the beginning of a new year.

How do you approach the end of one year and the beginning of another?

Oh, and before I forget, I have been gleaning Solstice and other winter traditions from the book The Winter Solstice, The Sacred Traditions of Christmas, by John Matthews. I purchased this book a few years back from One Spirit book club, but this is the first year I have really looked at it.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


dance of the flowersDance of the Flowers - (Seasonal Circles series) - © Sue O'Kieffe
source image - baby's breath


HOPE FOR THE HOLIDAYSHope for the Holidays - (Seasonal Circle series) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2007
source image: red and white dahlia

I have been reading some about winter traditions based in paganism. Did you know that there is also a Mother Christmas, and that the second day of Christmas (which 12/27 is) is her day?

Deriving from the ancient figure of the Mother Goddess, the feminine principle of deity, she was regarded as a bringer of fertility, abundance, and justice. Usually depicted as a tall and beautiful woman dressed in white and with a golden girdle, she rode through the land, she rode through the land during the twelve days dispensing gifts from a sleigh pulled by dogs.
(Matthews, The Winter Solstice)

I would love for you to share with me what you see or feel looking at this mandala. For myself, I feel the promise of Light coming from deep within, piercing the darkness and radiating to all of humanity.

Happy Mother's Night...the second day of christmas

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


christmas frostChristmas Frost Mandala - (Seasonal Circles series) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2007
source image: bedstraw

We had frost on Christmas Day here on the North Coast of California. frosted bedstrawIt was Earth's gift to me, since I had been wanting to photograph leaves with icing on them for a couple of weeks. I believe the source image is bedstraw, a plant which in the "olden days" actually was used for stuffing mattresses.

When I look at the mandala, I see the image of the Green Man.

green manThe image to the left is just one of many versions of the Green Man, who once was considered to be the virtual embodiment of the life force that ran rampant through every green and growing thing.(John Matthews, The Winter Solstice). He plays a predominant part in the Arthurian legends in the story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. In the story, Sir Gawain beheads the Green Knight who is able to retrieve his head and return his own blows to King Arthur's nephew. The story serves to remind all about the power of restoration, the death of the old year and the birth of the new. (Matthews)

When I create my mandalas, I never intend for these images to appear. They just sort of show up on their own. It is part of the magic of mandala making for me. (Don't you just love all those MMMMMMM's?)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Holly Days Mandala - (Seasonal Circles series) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2007
source image: holly berries

However you choose to celebrate this time of year, may today and everyday be filled with Love and Light.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Well, it has been a while since I've done a Photoshop tutorial. But as I promised in my post yesterday, I said I would deconstruct how to make a mandala prayer flag. I have covered most of the steps I used to create one of these flags in previous tutorials, but I have never talked about clipping masks. Don't worry; they are easy as can be!

So first I drew a doodle and colored it using crayola and caran d'ache neocolor II crayons and scanned it to my hard drive.

For those of you who have followed my blog for a while, you probably know by now I use the templates on this website to create my mandalas. I feel a debt of gratitude to Komra Mokiro for her visionary approach to using Photoshop in this process.

This is the basic mandala I created using the five wedge template found on the Earth Mandala website.
I duplicated the image (Ctrl/Cmd+J) , pressed D to set the colors to default, applied the photocopy filter (filters>sketch>photocopy), setting the detail at 2 and the darkness at 27. Then I set the blending mode to Multiply, which created the dark outlines in this image.
I thought the image looked a little dull, so I decided to use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to boost the intensity a bit. I only wanted it to affect the layer with the photocopy filter. Otherwise the adjustment layer would affect all of my layers! This is an important concept to understand when working with adjustment layers and considering their placement in your layer palette.

In order to create a clipping mask hold down the alt/option key, press the adjustment layer icon and select Hue/Saturation adjustment.

Tick the box that says:"Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask" As you can see the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer is indented. This show it relates to only the layer underneath it. A regular adjustment layer affects all layers below it.

Using Hue/Saturation, set Hue at 2 and Saturaton at 26. The yellow center is most noticeably more vibrant.
I created a new layer and chose the elliptical marquee tool. Holding down the alt/opt key and pulling upward from the center of the mandala made the selection I was creating into a perfect circle. I wanted the circle just a little larger than the circle of the mandala. Go to Edit>Fill and fill the selection with yellow.

Double click on the background layer, change the name to Layer O and fill it with black (Edit/Fill). Create a new layer, and reverse the order of the layers in the layer palette, so Layer 2 is on the bottom and Layer 0 is above it. Highlight Layer 2 in your layer palette. Select Layer 2 using the crop tool (Ctrl/Cmd+C) . Hold down the alt/option key in order to expand the size of your square so it is equal on all sides.
Fill Layer 2 with a bright turquoise color.
Here is the finished image.

If you have any questions about this tutorial, be sure to let me know. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday. I will return with more Photoshop fun in 2008. Thank you all for continuing to inspire me in this journey of creation.

Happy Photoshopping!

© Sue O'Kieffe 2007

Saturday, December 22, 2007


First I started with a doodle.

Well, ok, usually I create my mandalas from images from nature; but I got to thinking this morning about Tibetan peace flags and how much I love them, and then I got to thinking about this day being World Peace Day, at least decreed by this man here. And then I wondered what mandalas created from one of my doodles might look like, so I created these six images which I think would make great flags.

Tomorrow I will be back to deconstruct one of these images and show you another Photoshop technique as my holiday gift to you all.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


solstice light
Solstice Light - (Seasonal Circles series) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2006

We must follow the star.
Even on godless nights
when there is no star
we must follow the star.

~John Moriarity

Winter Solstice 2007 (Dec 21/22 depending on your time zone) is World Peace Day. You can read more about it here

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


tropical light mandalaTropical Light Mandala - (Circles of Light series) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2007

Well, I promised 12 holiday mandalas. This one is for folks in the southern hemisphere. It's so hard for me to comprehend what Christmas in summer must be like. Somehow I envision Santa in a tropical shirt and shorts, sipping umbrella drinks and hanging out on the beach. Who could possibly deliver all those gifts in the heat?

If there is anyone reading here who lives south of the equator, won't you share with us please what the holidays are like for you?

Sunday, December 16, 2007



pen and ink, crayon, caran d'ache
© Sue O'Kieffe 2007

Well, Sacred Silliness Saturday came and went, and now it's SS Sunday. Better late than never, I always say. Yesterday found me in bed most of the day, too tired to spend much time in front of the computer. Instead, I colored and napped. I was trying to finish what I was doing, but my body's need for sleep won out. Art is supposed to be fun and I refused to pressure myself into some kind of self-imposed deadline.

So this is what I chose to show here for this week's doodle. I colored this image intuitively. What I mean is that I chose colors randomly by pulling my crayons out of a bag without looking at what I chose. It was a fun experiment.

I have posted another of my doodles on my other blog at xanga. I love this daily colorful meditation and look forward to it before falling asleep. I enjoy that I have remained true to my intent of doodling once a day every day, which I made after Leah's November challenge to be creative every day. You can see my other doodles here, at flickr.


kokopeli drops his pipe

Kokopeli Drops His Pipe

pen and ink, caran d'ache, crayon
© Sue O'Kieffe 2007

I finally finished this doodle and just couldn't wait until next week to post it!

I have indulged myself in the laziest of days, today. It's been a while since I've gone through the whole day in my jammies. The rain has been coming down steadily; after dinner I am looking forward to cozying up to my art pad and ink pen again. Doodlemania! Woohoo!

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Starry Night Mandala - (Seasonal Circle series) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2007
source image: cedar bough

Dark star-filled night
Deep time in winter
Dreaming of miracles
Dreaming of Light

Sunday, December 09, 2007


holiday heartHOLIDAY HEART - (Seasonal Circle series) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2007

I am giving myself a challenge of posting twelve seasonal images by the end of December.

Im not sure what kind of flower I used for the source image for this mandala. Photographed on a summer's day in my friend's garden,it called to me this winter to be transformed for the holidays.
Any one have an idea what it might be?

I do love the colors of this for the heart, red for passion, green for growth. When I first created the mandala I was thinking of the expression "cross my heart" when I saw how the center emerged.

Wrap yourself and others in love this season and remember those who matter most.


The vesica piscis was my fist conscious introduction to sacred geometry.

I will say more about my limited understanding of this form soon. I hope you are enjoying these videos.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


going down in flames

Going Down in Flames
pen and ink, crayon, caran d'arch
© Sue O'Kieffe 2007

I've loved loved LOVED everyone's enthusiastic response to my crazy doodles and even considered starting another blog dedicated to 'em, but somebody already had my name of choice (doodleblog). So I am going to dedicate Saturday to SacredSilliness, post my doodle of the week, and point you to my doodles which I am posting at I have wanted to investigate this community for a while anyway, and thought this would be less pressure than starting up a whole other blog. I mean, how many do I need, anyway? You can view my other doodles here.

And now I am going to make a confession. There are so many of you out there blogging your heARTs out who I admire and want to support with my time and commentary, but I am momentarily overtaken by life. It is not the holidays, because I barely celebrate. I am not at all a frivolous woman and I would rather comment with heart or not at all. It must be dilemma many of us face. And so I comment when I am moved to instead of out of obligation. Know that I look at all of you often, either via email or RSS feed reader. I feel honored and privileged to be part of this ever growing community of online artists and I wish you all continued creative growth and abundant joy.

Have fun and keep breathing!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Time for a pop quiz. Were you paying attention to the video I posted yesterday about 7 pennies?

OK, so take the Flower of Life...

...and this mandala Violet Light Mandala - Circles of Light series - © Sue O'Kieffe 2007 and put them together to get ...

Kinda cool, huh?

But wait. It gets better.

I had planned on posting this little demonstration of the sacred geometry encoding in my mandalas , but I had not planned on finding this little serendipitous reference to the Flower of Life. On another blog I read from time to time, an article was posted about the prophecies of the Mayan calendar that some claim predicts the end of the world in 2012. I personally have never felt this was an accurate interpretation. From Mike's post:
At sunrise on December 21, 2012 for the first time in26,000 years the Sun rises to conjunct the intersection of the Milky Way and the plane of the ecliptic. This cosmic cross is considered to be an embodiment of the Sacred Tree, The Tree of Life, a tree remembered in all the world's spiritual traditions. Some observers say this alignment with the heart of the galaxy in 2012 will open a channel for cosmic energy to flow through the earth, cleansing it and all that dwells upon it, raising all to a higher level of vibration.
So what does this mean about meditating upon a mandala using the 7 pennies configuration? Please share your thoughts with me.

ps I apologize for the dark blue font on the quote. No matter what I tried I could not change it to another color. I hope you will mouse over and highlight it to read the text. ~sue

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


When I was a youngster, I had a hard time with math. I especially found geometry boring, dry, and uninteresting. If high school geometry teachers had approached the subject in a way to show us how it related to the beauty of the universe, I might have been inspired to appreciate it differently.

Recently I read on Painter of Blue's most thoughtful blog, Art of the Spirit, When the mind engages with sacred geometry it is elevated and expanded in a particular way. It engages us without going through the feeling body. Much of western art is about emotion and the heart. It is a more Eastern approach to spirituality to travel to God through the Divine mind.

I know that the principles of sacred geometry are embedded in my mandalas inspired by nature. That is why you see cathedral windows in some of my work, because cathedral windows are based on these same mathematical formulas.

I have begun poking around looking for more information on this topic. What did we ever do before YouTube, anyway? I thought I would, over the next week or so, post some videos I have found on this most intriguing topic.

Enjoy. And let me know what you think.

Sunday, December 02, 2007


passion Passion
pen and ink, caran d'arch
© Sue O'Kieffe 2007

never give up Never Give Up
pen and ink
© Sue O'Kieffe 2007

phoneix rising Phoenix Rising
pen and ink, crayon, caran d'arch
© Sue O'Kieffe 2007

Well, Leah's challenge to do art every day in November has officially ended, but it certainly hasn't ended in my heart or mind. And the good news is that she is extending this low pressure challenge in 2008 to be creative every day. Read more about it here!

These are the doodles I doodled during the past week. My hands touched the paper every day. Sometimes fatigue inhibited me from doing much more than touching the paper. The second image isn't done yet; I thought briefly about trying to do what I wanted with it before posting, but truthfully I don't know exactly what I want and so it will wait. I drew the third image for a friend of mine who is experiencing some medical challenges. It is my imagining of what healing energy for him would look like.

This week I also saw myself being more concerned with the product rather than the process. I do find that manipulating imagery is easier for me digitally, but that has come with lots of practice. Im sure that if I were to continue drawing, doodling, playing in this manner that what I wanted to achieve would come easier for me over time.

But mostly I am very grateful to all of you who enjoyed my dribbles. It made me really happy.

Thanks for the encouragement. They were moments of bliss during a week that has been quite stressful. I think the collective is restless.

Friday, November 30, 2007


Fire in the Wheel - (Circles of Light series) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2007
source image: false bamboo

This has been an intense week for me as I navigated my way through even more transitions and change. Life seems to provide us with an ever abundant supply of new adjustments. I have touched on moral, ethical, and financial issues, as well as on the health and well being of people important to me, during this past week. In the past I have experienced these times as moments of adjustment before the Wheel starts on its new cycle.

When I first looked at this image, faint Bible school memories of Ezekiel and the Wheel came up for me. This morning, as I began posting this blog, I was reminded of the Wheel of Fortune Tarot Card:

"In readings, the Wheel of Fortune can indicate a vision or realization that strikes with great force. If you've been struggling with a problem or tough situation, this card can signal that you will find the answer if you stand back and view everything from a larger perspective.

The Wheel of Fortune also represents unexpected encounters and twists of fate. You can't predict surprises; you can only be aware when one is circling around. Indeed, Card 10 often suggests wheel-like actions - changes in direction, repeating cycles and rapid movement. When the energy of the Wheel arrives, you will feel life speed up. You are caught in a cyclone that may deposit you anywhere. "Round and round and round she goes, and where she stops, nobody knows."

A potted false bamboo grows outside my window. All year long its leaves are beautiful shades of crimson and gold. In the fall those colors are even more pronounced. I am grateful to this tree for its graceful beauty and for the way it reminds me to look deep. During these times of increasing darkness, I believe the light shines even more brilliantly within.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


persephone's starPersephone's Star Mandala - (Goddess Circle series) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2007
source image: pomegranate section

In my perfect world, ink manufacturers would offer consumers more choices of ink using cartridges manufactured in the US using US parts for a lower cost. The fact that generic ink is manufactured in China adds a political spin to this issue. I was grumbling about this lawsuit to an artist friend of mine who reminded me that I could probably have my cards printed in China and shipped back for a lower cost than anything I could do here.

There are no easy answers. Neither Canon nor HP are embroiled in these patent wars, and certainly there is generic ink, manufactured in China, still available for purchase for those companies. But would using generic ink be an ethical decision in the long run? Certainly, my actions don't just affect me.

I will not stop creating mandalas over this issue. I do know that. How I will have them reproduced is today's piece of the puzzle. Dang, sometimes that corner piece is just so elusive!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thanks for the Love

radiating peaceRadiating Peace -© Shirley Two Feathers
Blog Source: Mandala Madness

Shirley Two Feathers has an amazing blog where she features all things mandala. I have been following her for quite a while. Recently she featured some of my greeting cards on her blog. Thanks for the link love, Shirley.

Another fearless mandala artist, Sweet Irene, recently honored me with some blog love which I have posted towards the bottom of my page. I love Irene's courage and enthusiasm. She is strong and brave and healing through her art. If you have not met Sweet Irene yet, now is the time to go say hi.

Thank all of you as well who commented on my irritation with Epson. My intent was to express dissatisfaction with Epson's corporate greed. You know that once there is less competition, ink prices are bound to rise even more. And if Epson sets an example and wins this case, will HP and Canon follow suit? I intend to write to both Epson and my state senator. Final decision on this cease and desist order will be made by President Bush. It is the lack of choice being given the average consumer that irritates me. I know that there are other answers out there for how I choose to market my art, but printing my art with an Epson printer is not likely to be one of them.

Sunday, November 25, 2007




ink, crayon
© sue o'kieffe 2007

hair brained ideas

hair brained ideas

ink, caran d'arch
© sue o'kieffe 2007

all along the watchtower

all along the watchtower

ink, caran d'arch
© sue o'kieffe 2007

the effects of watching ghost whisperer

the effects of watching
'ghost whisperer'

pen and ink
© sue o'kieffe 2007

On her blog Creative Every Day, Leah suggests doodling and sketching first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I look forward to my night time drawls. I've been having so much fun with this process that I even purchased some new pens. I know that eventually I will want to incorporate these doodles with Photoshop, but right now Im grateful for some time away from the computer. Yea. As if that could happen for too very long.

Thank you, Leah, for encouraging this playtime for us all.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


MAGIC GARDEN MANDALAMagic Garden Mandala - (Garden Mandala Series) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2007

Within the past couple of days I learned that the U.S. International Trade Commission has issued a cease and desist order against the manufacturers and importers of generic ink cartridges for Epson desktop inkjet printers, ruling it as an infringement of Epson patents. You can read more about that ruling here

This ruling will have a direct impact on my capacity to print my greeting cards at a reasonable cost. Im glad that I have all my orders printed. At this point I don't have an answer for what I will do going forward. On a philosophical level I believe that business has a right to protect itself. I feel the same about copyright issues for myself. On the other hand, there is something just wrong when replacing ink cartridges is as costly as purchasing some desktop printers. Certainly, not all consumers who print photographs or digital images at home need high quality archival inks; currently we do not have a choice, and that is what I believe needs to be offered. Certainly I will consider another brand of printer going forward. Not long ago a class action suit was filed against Epson because their printers registered being out of ink before the cartridges were actually empty, and Epson lost that suit.

I was angry when I first heard about this ruling, and then I realized that holding onto this anger would only make finding other solutions for this dilemma harder to manifest. This little snafu may very well help me turn my attention to those long term business goals that do not involve printing.

Please share your thoughts with me on this subject.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sunday, November 18, 2007


solstice lightSolstice Light Greeting Card -© Sue O'Kieffe 2007

dancing in the lightDancing in the Light greeting card - © Sue O'Kieffe 2006

I reached another one of my goals on Thursday when Plaza Design, the area's largest gift and home decor store agreed to carry eight of my greeting cards (4 of my holiday cards and 4 of my all season cards). I love 'em for their beauty and simplicity. If you would like to order something special during this gift giving time (perfect for tucking inside a box or sending in the mail), order now!
You can view my card gallery here and here and email me at the contact info at the right for shipping details. All cards are $4 plus tax, with a three card minimum.