they found that the wildlife was not limited to their summers. Resident peacocks fluttered down from lofty branches and slowly grazed by the art room door. Painting students were sent out to scavenge the paths and flowerbeds in search of dropped wayward bird feathers. Armed with an assortment of plumes and a sharp razor, the kids sliced angular tips and dug wells to craft their personal drawing tools.
The first project of the semester involved creating sacred circular designs, called “mandalas” in Sanskrit. These were required to have some reference to their passions and past times. The students brainstormed symbols that alluded to their various hobbies and talents. Then they scouted the art room in search of templates to trace their giant circle outline. This shape became the boundary that contained their symmetrical designs. Working from the center of the circle out, the artist’s focus radiated along with the symbols on the surface. Once the designs were drawn in India ink with the hand-made quills, the artists used hatching and cross-hatching marks to create a varied value scale across the designs. The goal was to combine an awareness of their new environment with the soul-searching-centered symbolism that expresses who they are.