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Primary Knowledge


It has been a tumultuous year and most everything feels to be in a state of constant change (oxymoron!)  Even the mandalas feel less familiar and when I returned to the studio after a long absence, this mandala had already been sectioned neatly 16 ways.  I obscured nearly half of the lines for the central spiral, for a nice balance between the lined and open shape.  I did not have the title initially, it suggested itself due to the color scheme and the current life theme, which is, that everything I thought I knew, all my beliefs, including who and how I believe myself to be, are subject to question.

A serendipitous discovery not long ago led me to a painting class which meets once a week.  It is an entirely different style of painting, and the first night we were given a few guidelines and asked to do a still life, my effort is shown below…”Seeing Through”.seeing-through

I had a difficult time with this and realized that painting without a linear framework was terrifying to me.  I have become completely reliant on the lines to guide my way!

Week two we were given a few reference photos, along with access to some magazines and the theme “Hair of the Dog”…and the suggestion of a combining collage and painting.  I again felt the fear of the unknown, but emboldened by the amazing instructor, Kathy Taylor, and the energy of a very talented group, I had the most incredible result… i-did-what-last-night

“I Did WHAT Last Night?”

Last week (week three), the assignment was an abstract (or two!) so off I went again, into the enchanted forest without a map, and what to my astonished eyes should appear, but “Whirlwind” and “Romance”, two serviceable, if unremarkable abstracts.


What is happening?  While these different expressions are coming forth,  a book has come into my hands which I shall not name, as so far I would not recommend it, since it has only served to make me feel hopelessly damaged and destined to live a miserable life until I die a lonely death.  It speaks of the fate of children born highly empathic, that learn to read the emotions and energies of others, taking the skills of a chameleon to a new level in a misguided attempt to harmonize the chaos with which they find themselves surrounded.  The end result is an individual so deeply separated from the awareness of their own truth, their own real feelings and emotions, that there is no way to access the invaluable inner GPS, it has been virtually overridden.  This has me questioning everything…what I paint, why I paint, who I am after everything and everyone else is stripped away.

As I read the words, they seem terribly self-indulgent.  This is not a third world crisis which has me fearing for my physical life, I have not lost my home or had to flee bombings, floods, hurricanes or terror.  Still, I find myself wondering in a deeper way who is inhabiting this physical body and how I might really and truly get to know her.

Filed under: Empathy, Healing Art, Loss, Mandalas, painting, Retrospective

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. Hey I have recently learned about mandalas, and I’m greatly interested in it. Could you visit my site and interpret my mandala art?

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