Mandalas have been around for many years and used in different cultures to represent in some cases the earth, sun, moon and the cycle of life. The word mandala is the Sanskrit word for circle. They were also used as a meditation tool and were required to be appealing to hold attention. There were certain requirements for it to be a meditation tool and many of the mandalas you see today including the ones I paint are not that sort as there is no set way that they have to be done. It is a very relaxing hobby painting mandalas and you don't always know what you are going to end up with, it depends on the size of the stone (smooth beach stone is best), paper or canvas you use as well as the size of the dotting tools. Some people just use brushes and these are the more artist people, which I am not. I have not learned to master a paint brush but may try in the future. I bought my first dowels from travellingkindnessrocks.ca and it is through them that I learned how to dot my first stone. Pinterest is also a great source of inspiration but I am starting to do more on my own such as this one above. You can order dotting tools/brushes through amazon and they are commonly used for manicures. Different size dowels work too or even the end of your paintbrushes can be used. cuticle sticks, skewers, etc. can be used, it is just important to have a variety of small sizes. One of my biggest mistakes in the beginning were from using too large a tool and ending up with a rather small simplistic mandala because I ran out of room on the stone. If the stones are small the tools need to have small heads. You will need acrylic craft paints which can be bought at Michaels, craft stores, department stores or at the dollar store although the consistency of their paint is hit and miss, sometimes too thick, sometimes too runny and other times just right. If you can't find colours you like you can mix what you have. This is what I did to get two other shades of pinks above, I added white to them. You need a protected surface to do your dotting and an apron is recommended to protect your clothing because even though it is water based it didn't come out of one of my shirts. A good light is important because your vision can get a little blurry working with all those dots for extended periods of time. A painting palette is useful although an old ice cube tray or something similar would work. A caddy for the paints and tools is also handy to have. A few paint brushes will also be needed to paint the entire stone a particular colour and a couple smaller brushes are used for repairing mistakes.
You begin by preparing your surface if you want the background coloured and for the most part it looks more striking painted. Paint the entire stone, front and back and leave to dry. I tend to paint several stones at a time so that there are a couple on hand to dot. They don't usually take too long to dry and you can speed the process up using a hair dryer. One can also dot on artist pad paper or canvas's, both of which can be purchased at dollar stores, online or Michaels. You will also need a couple paper towels.
It is a good idea for your first attempt to start with the dot in the centre and work out from there. Just follow what I did above and feel free to use different colours and know that yours will probably look different than mine due to a different size stone or canvas and the different size dotting tools you use. The biggest tip is to dip your dowel and then put end of your tool perpendicular to the stone and dot straight down & watch until paint starts to squirt slightly outside the dowel and lift it straight up (there should be a little slightly raised bead in the centre & re-dip into the paint each time to do each consecutive dot or they will be an inconsistent size. It's good to try this on a piece of construction paper before doing on the stone or canvas you want to keep. You will need to wipe off the end of the dowel occasionally if it starts to get a little globby. Don't thin the paint! Let the paint dry completely before you start to do any layering. Don't try to fix mistakes until they dry then you can touch up with paint using a small paintbrush for the background (wait to dry) and then repair the dots. I haven't tried it yet but next time I get to town I am going to purchase a clear finish to spray on stones so that I can put them outside this summer. I hope you enjoy doing as much as I do.