What is Dala Art?

dala art design Dec 30, 2018

Dala Art is art designed within a circle that has been divided into segments by one continuous line that may or may not cross over itself.  It can be of any size, in any medium, either abstract or representational.  The objects or patterns that fill each segment may be confined within the boundaries of each segment or spill out of the segment boundaries and the circumference of the circle.

In 2013, to make my color workshop more fun, I used the format of a mandala to create color wheels. Back in my studio I became obsessed with altering the geometry of the mandalas and playing with variations of color shapes that still resembled a color wheel.

One thing led to another and I began to draw objects into the shapes and to go beyond color wheels to experiment with color schemes. The Color Scheme Game was born. 

I shared several of the circular paintings with other artists in a color workshop I was teaching in Maryland.  Several of them asked if I also created Zentangles.  I had no idea what a Zentangle was.  After a few more nudges I gave Zentangles a try.

The first two were fun.  After that, I felt restricted by both the small size and the named patterns that were to fill the spaces.  My biggest frustration was that I couldn't create a "thread" line that flowed smoothly across a square.  I gave up on zentangles and returned to my evolving mandalas

I added a compass to my travel kit to create mandalas depicting repeat patterns of buildings, seashells, landscapes and plants. On March 24, 2014, while sitting on a fire hydrant across from the Theo Chocolate factory in Seattle, I decided that repeating an intricate drawing of buildings and high tension wires four, five or six times, was too tedious.  

Later that day, in the Woodland Park Rose Garden, the first full deviation from the repeated patterns of a mandala occurred. The next step was to bend reality even more by beginning with irregular shapes within the circle designated by a thread line, just like in a zentangle!  My thread line danced across the circle and led me to an art form that continues to delight me both in my studio and while traveling. 

 

At first I thought to call these circular paintings Zendalas, combining Zentangle and Mandala.  One evening, after creating one of these circular designs of both patterns and objects, drawn with my Lamy Safari fountain pen, my husband laughed and called it a Dala Lamy. The name stuck and the art form has been called Dala Art ever since. 

Dala Art gives permission to bend the world, to alter forms to fit into shapes, to zoom in as well as to zoom out, to turn reality into an abstract pattern, and to be playful with color.

Link to more examples of Dala Art and Color Wheel Mandalas.

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