Friday, May 23, 2008


tapestries 6Tapestries 6 Mandala (Connie Rose series) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2008
source image: Connie Rose yarn photo

My friend and fellow artist journeyer Connie Rose has been gracious connie rose yarn and fabricand let me play with photos of her handspun yarn. This is one of my favorite images of the six I have created..warm and toasty and in keeping with the solar imagery of my previous post.

I share her love affair with textures and love the doodl-y quality of the mandalas created from her handspun goodies.

When I was younger, I loved making yarn paintings, painstakingly glueing down strand after strand of yarn on masonite to create images of -- guess what?--suns!

On this holiday weekend in North America, I hope you are able to capture a bit of solar energy and enjoy some time off from whatever it is you normally do. Have fun, be safe, etc. Despite the rising cost of gasoline, I have decided to do a short jaunt up to southern Oregon and spend the weekend with a friend on 15 acres of forested and beautifully landscaped splendor for some serious R&R and photoshooting. Oh yum. Stay tuned.

See you on the flip side!

Sue O'Kieffe
Sacred Circle Mandalas

Monday, May 19, 2008


Desert Sun Mandala - © Sue O'Kieffe 2008
source image - escobaria cactus

When I go out into the world with my camera, I love getting up close to nature, feeling the energy of the plants and reveling in their colors.

Last week at the local Farmers' Market, I took a photograph of this cactus, which I think, after a quick Googling, must be a variety of escobaria.

I was attracted to the spikiness of the plant and knew that it was a force to be reckoned with. Is it any surprise that feng shui practitioners recommend having cactus outside the house as a form of protection, but not to put it inside unless you want to keep people away? I imagined all those porcupine-like spikes would transform themselves into amazing geometric forms.

Yup. But I just was not satisfied with the background. One of the things I am focusing on right now in my art is experimenting with different ways of creating more interesting backgrounds without overwhelming the mandala imagesthemselves.

One thing I love about digital art is being able to reuse certain design elements over and over again. I have lots of handmade paper that I scanned onto my hard drive just for this purpose.

First iteration. Old antique paper from India. I liked the color and the texture, but wasn't happy with the lack of contrast between image and background.
Second iteration. Again, still not quite right but closer.

I love playing with blending modes. It is, for me, the primary feature in PhotoshopI use to make my images painterly. When I selected Screen mode for both of the paper layers (see layer palette), all of the unwanted dark features of both paper layers lightened up, leaving a blend of the two layers of paper while removing the texture and darker colors in the onion paper layer. (Antique Paper layer >Blending Mode: Screen>Opacit :54%, Onionskin Paper layer> Blending Mode: Screen>Opacity: 100%)
Final step?
Adding a black frame around the image as I described in this tutorial.

I love the way this mandala came together. Earthy. Bright. Sunny. Desert-y. I think the cactus would be happy with my portrayal of its many gifts.

I hope you enjoy experimenting with Blending Modes. Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions, either via email or in comments.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


mother maryOur task must be to free ourselves . . .
by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures
and the whole of nature and its beauty.

~Albert Einstein

Today I am grateful for the time I spent yesterday renewing friendship with my friend Lorlyn. She and I are techno-geek grrrl friends, Photoshop mavens, and spiritual allies. I couldn't be happier or feel more blessed that she and I continue to nurture our friendship and be able to pick up where we left off from the last time we saw each other (right before Thanksgiving), even though she has moved away from the North Coast of California. After celebrating her birthday and our friendship with a delicious crepe breakfast in Arcata, we mosied up to Trinidad for a walk-around-the-town photo shoot.

How can anyone not be inspired when surrounded by beauty like this?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Layers of Love Mandala - © Sue O'Kieffe 2008
source image- flower bouquet
your slightest look easily will unclose me

though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully, mysteriously) her first rose
I was going to make this mandala into part of my meditation card series, but I do not have a font that adequately captures the essence of the opening of the heart to the myriad expressions of Love. Everything I tried looked too much like Hallmark variety hearts and flowers.

Back in March I told the story of a homeless family who was living under a bridge with their dog. I found out last month that the woman is still alive, having survived her fifth admission into the local hospital since November. I was glad to hear the rest of that story and to know that I can put my mind at ease a bit.

I find I am in a period of productivity and experimentation. Language is not coming easily. I am touched by the miracle of Spring and her beauty.

Sue O'Kieffe
Sacred Circle Mandalas

Friday, May 02, 2008


Illuminata Mandala - (Meditation Card series) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2008
source image - daffodil
I woke up in a very dark tunnel. I couldn't see anything. I was scared and wasn't sure exactly what to do. The voice of my Wiser Self reminded me.

Shine your Light.
It's hard to believe I haven't posted in over a week. There has been much activity going on in the background though, playing in Photoshop with these more water-colory mandala forms. During this time of increased creative activity, my mind has been looking for my Spirit's understanding of what it is I do. I have been Searching for Meaning, and shining my Light into some darkish corners. The above story about waking up in the tunnel was part of a dream I had last week. Last week I spent a great deal of time thinking abut and writing about my identity as a digital artist in an ongoing discussion with other artists I know.

I create Sacred Art.

I have not been wanting to say that out loud here, on my blog, like ... forever. I have not wanted to be categorized. I have been afraid, I guess, of being judged. I have wanted to let people draw their own conclusions about how my art touches them, but please leave the artist out of the equation. How crazy is that, anyway? Don't define me as New Age, or Old Age, or what have you. I just do what I feel called to do. But at the same time I have wanted to be part of the feeling I am trying to create in my art, knowing that we are all connected.

Somehow I had created a disconnect between myself and my creativity.

I have been surfing the web for inspiration and understanding. I had seen the Sacred Life Sunday button before in my wanderings, which I have now posted on my sidebar. Yesterday I knew the time had come to make posting about the sacredness I see in everyday life part of my spiritual practice and to not be afraid to say so.

In my link jumping I also discovered Milliande and her Visionary Art Bus. Her definition of Psychic Art really resonates with my intent when I create my mandalas:

What is Psychic Art ?

Psychic or Shamanic Art is an umbrella that covers different forms of artistic expression that are powerful representation of energy. Most often by creating simply through intention and without a logical plan. It is guided primarily by the subtle psychic sense.

By exploring where the inner world and outer world meet, we can create beyond previous limitation and learn how to step over the line; allowing creativity and inspiration to flow effortlessly from the 'zone'. Even if at first ,we don't even know what we have achieved!

Forms of this Art include Visionary Art, Pre-Cognitive Art, Energy Art, Aura Graphs, Mandala's, Icons, Mask Making, Inspirational Writing, Automatic Writing and Spirit Portraiture

Psychic and Shamanic Art portrays the energy of the subject as well as how it appears physically; the unseen energy around us has so much more potential that anything that can be seen.

I create Sacred Art.
The universe and the light of the stars come through me. ~ Rumi

How do you define yourself as an artist/creative?

Sue O'Kieffe

Sacred Circle Mandalas