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An Eye for Art: Sharing her mandalas gives Westminster artist ‘feelings of peace’

Patricia Lappin is pictured with her art titled “Grounding.”
Patricia Lappin is pictured with her art titled “Grounding.” (Lyndi McNulty)

Patricia Lappin is a local mandala artist living in Westminster. When she was a child, she loved spirographs and kaleidoscopes, both because they focus on geometry and are a form of art.

“I was always aware of the geometry of the natural world such as honeycombs, pine cones, sea shells, leaves and flowers,” Lappin explained. She was always interested in the natural sciences, particularly in biology and psychology.

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Even as a child, Lappin was fascinated by Leonardo da Vinci’s Virtruvian man that da Vinci drew in about 1490. It is an image of a man with the proportions of the human body according to Vitruvius. Marcus Vitruvius Pollio was a famous architect and engineer who worked during the 1st Century BC. Da Vinci drew a man in a circle and a square showing the symmetry of the human body, thus combining art with science. Lappin’s interest in symmetry and geometry eventually led her to creating mandalas.

The word mandala means “circle” in the 2,000-year-old ancient language of Sanskirt, an ancient Indo-European language of India and the longest surviving language in the world.

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The first mandalas were created by Buddhists that traveled the Silk Road through Asia. Later, the Hindu religion, Jainism religion and New Age Spirituality adopted the mandala symbol.

Both Buddhists and Navajo cultures have used mandalas made from sand to show the impermanence of life. Once the mandala is complete the sand is swept up, wrapped in silk and carried to a river or body of water, symbolizing a return to nature.

Mandalas come in many different forms and from countries all around the world. Celtic mandalas may contain a knot design symbolizing birth and rebirth and our connections to others including our ancestry. A spiral Celtic mandala enhances positive energy to share with others and the Celtic triquetra (three cornered) mandala symbolizes the holy trinity.

In India, mandalas are painted on walls, ceilings and in temples.

Other types of mandalas include animals, butterflies, hearts Christian, Aztec, flowers, geometric, moons, nature and suns to name a few.

Colors in the mandalas can also have meaning. For example, blue is used for inner peace and purple is for a spiritual connection. Red is for passion and inner strength. The meaning of colors can vary and also each person can feel differently from viewing the colors.

Lappin’s art is connected to her interest in meditation and the workings of the mind. When she returned from a meditation retreat, she saw a mandala at her acupuncturist’s office. It was on the ceiling above the table. Lappin contacted the artist who had created that mandala. The artist explained that she needed a compass, a straight edge, a pencil and some gel pens.

Basically, Lappin draws a circle with a compass and marks it into 12 equal parts. She watched a YouTube video to learn how to do that.

Then she adds the detail with pencil, compass and straightedge and the final work hours of fill-in done free hand with gel pen colors. It takes her as long as 10 to 12 hours to complete one. Lappin does not know where each mandala’s design will take her when she begins. She was recently working on her 14th one. Everyone who sees her mandalas are drawn in by their beauty, color, complexity and their meaning.

Lappin divides her mandalas into 12 parts representing wholeness and the cycles of nature. The images that the lines create in a mandala become symbols that can include the pentagon, meaning perfection and dots that represent everything is one.

Mandalas connect to her profession because she meditates to relieve the stress of the intensive nature of her work with children with autism. She goes into the home and teaches the child the language and social skills that are lacking because of their autism and she trains family members how to better manage and more effectively interact with their children.

Lappin is also a Reiki Master. Reiki is a healing technique that promotes stress reduction, relaxation and feelings of well-being by channeling energy into the client. It treats the entire person including body, emotions, mind and spirit. It creates a beneficial effect in combination with other medical treatments.

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“Mandalas are meditation tools. The person sits and looks at the mandala with a soft gaze," Lappin said. "Everyone sees something different. Some people feel like they are being drawn into the mandala. Others see movement coming out of the mandala.”

According to Carl Jung, the founder of analytical psychology, mandalas are a map to the subconscious. Jung drew them with his clients and is credited with introducing mandalas to the western world. He created the first one in 1916, even before he learned the eastern tradition that had gone before. Jung learned that mandalas showed the patient’s need for inner wholeness.

“I want to get my mandalas out there,” Lappin said.

There is a mandala created by Lappin in the Downtown Yoga studio in Westminster. Lappin recently participated in the Carroll County Arts Council Members Show. She is also scheduled to be in the next GFWC Woman’s Club of Westminster Show at the Carroll Nonprofit Center galleries opening Jan. 10, 2020 titled, “A New Decade of Art.”

“The mandalas I create are created for people or for places. I meet with someone and then meditate. The mandala comes from that," Lappin said. "My mandalas can be a tool for a person to use for mediation themselves. My mandalas reflect the order of the universe. The Tibetan word for a mandala is Kyilkor which means that which encircles a center.

“I like creating mandalas because it is a form of meditation. It gives me feelings of peace and I gain the benefits of drawing them. I like to share these mandalas and their benefits with other people.”

She can be contacted at patricialappinbcba@gmail.com.

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