Mandala is a spiritual symbol special to Hinduism and Buddhism. Mandala literally means “circle” in Sanskrit and it is seen in religious texts and architecture in most regions of Asia. Nowadays, mandalas and thangkas have become a well-known art form here in Nepal as well as all over the world, thanks to their intricate details and colors. Sukriti Bhatta, an aspiring artist who specializes in mandala making, confesses that she is fascinated by the art form and wants to pursue it as more than just a hobby.
Bhatta started posting pictures of her mandala artworks only from this year. “At first, I had no idea it would get so big, I just wanted people to see my artwork,” she says adding that it really surprised her when people started asking her to work on some commissioned pieces. She had never, not even in her wildest dreams, thought she could make money from her drawings.
Bhatta first liked the idea of mandala thanks to an Instagram artist called @murderandrose, who specializes in making mandalas and has hundreds of thousands of followers. Bhatta claims that she was loved the way mandalas looked, detailed yet calming at the same time. And so, she tried drawing them on her own. After getting the hang of it, she uploaded some of her artworks on Instagram and was elated when she got positive reviews from both within and outside Nepal.
Eventually, she started receiving orders from friends who wanted her to draw mandala paintings for them. As she had never been to art school, she took to YouTube in order to further hone her skill and make it commercial worthy. After a while, she also started getting commissions from restaurants that wanted her mandala paintings for their decor. “It came to me as an absolute surprise how my simple art was considered valuable by people, so much so that they wanted to buy them for their own personal space,” she explains.
As a child, Bhatta used to draw at school but mostly for projects and never took it too seriously. She had never hoped to make a career out of it, as drawing to her was just a way to pass time and nothing more. However, she did love scribbling and painting here and there. Nowadays, Bhatta doesn’t feel at home without drawing at least once a day, as it has become a method of stress relief and feels almost meditative to her.
According to Bhatta, a good mandala is all about balance of patterns and colors. “I can look at anything around me, notice the patterns and colors in it and put it into a mandala,” she reveals adding that inspiration for a mandala is everywhere as long as one knows where to look. For the colors, Bhatta usually goes with whatever feels right to her as well as how she is feeling at the moment. “Except in some cases I never fully know where I’m going with a mandala. I just let the pattern and colors flow and see where that takes me,” she says.
The process of bringing a mandala painting to life starts with Bhatta drawing out the particular design in a separate rough paper and then filling it with colors. After a few tries – eliminating and choosing colors and designs – she starts working on the real piece and follows her rough sketches to get a well balanced and well executed mandala. Along with mandala making, Bhatta also experiments with painting using oil-pastels and watercolors.
Mandalas have become a big part of Bhatta’s life mainly because she was able to interact with a lot of people as well as making some earnings along the way, all due to her fascination with mandala. Bhatta claims all this has made her more optimistic and confident about her own creations which she believes has added value not only to her life but also to others who have bought and talked about her artworks.
In the future, Bhatta wants to undertake formal education in mandala making, so that she can delve deeper into its roots and history and truly appreciate mandala in its purest form. “The most important thing for me is to be able to grow. With every scribble I want to refine my skills and get better,” she says.
Considering how thangkas and mandalas aren’t a new form of art anymore and people do know about it, Bhatta says she wants to work on her skills to get much better at it. She says she had no idea that mandala making would turn out to be such a big part of her life but she’s glad that she made the conscious effort to showcase her work. “If you think you are good at something, I truly believe you should trust yourself and not hesitate to put it out before an audience. That has done me a lot of good. I’m sure it will work for others too,” she concludes.