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Let Your Slip Show



I started “Beaming”, (the mandala shown here) a week or so ago, in the usual way, black lines over pencil, giving me a foundation on which to build color.

Beaming BW

As luck would have it, some experiences I had between the beginning of the piece and the painting process gave me a bit more courage to experiment.  As a part of the class I am taking this semester,  (“Career Exploration for the Creative Mind”), I am assigned to read the book, “Trust the Process, an Artist’s Guide to Letting Go” by Shaun McNiff.  Shaun writes, “The most consistent obstacle to creative discovery is the average person’s reluctance to become involved in free experimentation.”  Definitely true for me!  Even more compelling, “Creativity requires the ability to relax into periods of uncertainty and trust creative intelligence to find its way.”  All this time I have felt something was wrong with me because I did not know which way to go, and it was just a natural part of the process!

Synchronicity had its way again, as I was able to view a brilliant artist’s webinar (Jo Toye) during which she shared some of her innovative acrylic painting techniques.  Inspired by this generous and creative pioneer, I did an “underpainting” for the mandala.Beaming in progress

This image shows the underpainting as well as some preliminary color I was adding.  I felt a familiar tug to have everything precise and orderly, but the underpainting showing through with a somewhat random pattern teased me with a “what if you took a few more chances?” challenge.  I experimented with the acrylic and learned a few more of its characteristics (I am much better acquainted with watercolor!).

Beaming more progress

As I continued on, learning more, I realized that my natural tendency is to hide whatever I feel is unappealing (in my paintings and myself!)  How much better to own and show the missteps, the scars, the lessons life has brought me, let some of the irregularities and eccentricities shine through!  How liberating to be unapologetically genuine!  Granted there is actually very little left of the underpainting showing in the final piece.  What is apparent is a new willingness to experiment and be seen, and let my slip show!


Filed under: Creative Living, Healing Art, Mandalas, Map Making

About the Author

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As a Phoenix native, Vikki Reed's vibrant watercolors of desert botanicals evolved from her love and appreciation of the desert's ability to produce tender beauty in the midst of harsh conditions. The mandala series which began in 2004 resurrects a childhood knowledge that mandalas are a primordial tool for centering and healing. Vikki studied in the 1980s with watercolor greats Irving Shapiro and Paul Kuo, and began exhibiting at the outdoor shows in Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico after Paul's encouragement. This led to gallery representation with the Wickenburg Gallery and Work of Artist's Gallery. Vikki also exhibited at the Celebration of Fine Art for eight years. Before taking sabbatical to act as caregiver for her father in 2010, Vikki was featured in a one woman show at the Northern Trust Bank in January 2008 and was selected to create an ornament for the White House Christmas Tree that same year. Vikki's current focus, the Mandala Series, combines ancient symbolism and the healing power of color.


  1. It’s interesting to see how many colors you can get when you add colors ‘over’ the under-painting. I can see how green is easy enough to make by adding blue to the gold, but how do you get that bright ‘magenta’ purple?

    • Haha! Thanks for asking Pat! I am learning new tricks from the acrylic painters at Arizona Art Supply. The bright purple is Golden’s Permanent Violet Deep mixed with white gesso!

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