Category Archives: Mandalas

Following a trail…

Looking for words to describe the stitches that follow color and shape and pattern…layers upon layers that started out as a something that was photographed, losing its way within a photoshop process that I cannot exactly describe. When I am doing it, I am just in it.

Several years ago, I happened on a “spirit cloth” blog by Jude Hill, that captured me for a week as I read the full seven years of entries. I read about process and stitching and bit and pieces of personal life and a cat named Soul-O. Now I read her every day. I’ve found myself reminded of a younger me who liked to embroider and sew.

I remembered an older woman (to young me when I knew her) many decades ago named Fern. She was sister to my dear friend, Gene Gray, who taught me photography for a brief two years before his death in 1978. I visited Fern from time to time. She often showed me what she had just made, using only hand-stitching, no machine — pillows, curtains, covers for her car seats, placemats, napkins. Oh, I wish had photographed all those so long ago, to help my memory of them now (that I am approaching quickly the age Fern was then.)

What I remember from my younger self is the longing to slow down and sew like Fern. It took me almost forty years to come back to this slowing down.

I am now sewing again with awkward stitches and no viable business plan for art marketing of embroidered mandalas. It’s taking so much slow time just to do it.

This mandala was accidentally printed too large to go on an apron bib as originally planned. Now it’s hugging a store-bought pillow (haven’t slowed down that much to make the pillow by hand) made by someone in India working for a pittance.

The mandala puckered with the stitching on to a thin layer of cotton batting. The “feel” of it becomes my favorite layer, a digital mandala for touching.

• the finished mandala attached to the pillow center…
with large boro-stitching beginning from the pillow seams

• the puckering reminds me of trapunto…stitching from the center out, with a ring of french knots like persons sitting in lotus poses with wavy purple stitches cross-legged

• following the pattern of the original cracking of paint on an old propane tank using pale green thread…many, many years ago I visited the huge studio and artists’ gallery space of Chris Sorenson in Fresno. He had piles of old propane tanks outside the front entrance. I took many photos of peeling paint on the tanks. These photos seem to find their way into a layers in almost all of my mandalas. As I stitched the lines of the paint, I remembered those tanks, now long gone as art works in their own right.

• the hem of the mandala looks like a bleeding of the boro stiches, reminding me of turtles reaching the shoreline


Mandala: “Hello” digital collage © Elsah Cort


Walk with Me Here

Rearranging furniture in my living room today, something I used to do a lot of when I was younger. I don’t have a lot of options because I have a very large, heavy slab of giant sequoia sitting on three rocks as a “coffee table”. Finding ways to work within the confines of this massive presence, that I cannot move without big help, and the fact that it’s just me to do the moving — again.

Stopped to check email and found a link from Robert Wilkinson at Aquarius Papers talking about the dance between the planet mercury and the sun happening right now…with mercury in direct motion, racing ahead of the sun (making a “superior conjunction”)…he says, “At this conjunction, mind is no longer following life, trying to catch up to it. Now mind races forward as herald, catching glimpses of knowledge, perception, and understanding that shows us where life is headed in the near future….we’ll use the ‘fusion of life and mind’ to reconstruct, repair, and/or restore harmony, balance, and connections between the individual and the collective, and the links between the conscious and unconscious sides of life. This could mean links within us related to the past and some social wreckage we went through, or restoring some sort of inner harmony related to past ‘storms.’ Any repair or reconstruction work we do can show us the constructive results of prior destructive events that stimulated us to new accomplishments.”

Many people think the country is in big trouble (few political details needed) with waves of hopelessness, disgust, intense judgment of others, bullets flying for real and masquerading as words, spoken and written, with the real intention of causing harm to all life forms. I want to race beyond these old stuck mind-sets, personally and collectlively, and begin to live again in ways never-before-seen.

[“Walk with Me Here” digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort]


Look in the mirror…

One of the big challenges with this present moment is how not to become the bully when you are bullied, not to become the hater when you are hated, not demean the other when you feel demeaned. Don’t unfriend, just unfollow for now. If comments appear (on your posts) to be stirring up the dust in unkind ways, delete the comments for now (like weeding a garden). Don’t reply. Don’t argue. You cannot change another person’s minds by arguing with them.  Look in the mirror for the ways you are rigid, dismissive, judgmental and mean. Talk to that person and assist that person to change at deeper levels. Continue to share the truth in the most positive way you can, in your daily life and even on facebook.

Do the work your soul came here to do.

"Follow the Path of Heart" digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort

“Follow the Path of Heart” digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort


Mandala-Maker, A Solo Exhibition

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You are cordially invited to two artist’s receptions on Friday, Jan 6 or Feb 3, from 5-8 pm.


from Elsah….

I first heard the Sanskrit word “mandala” (meaning sacred circle or container of essence, a compound word deriving from manda, which means essence and the suffix la, meaning container or possessor.) over thirty years ago when I studied with a spiritual school called Niscience. Part of the practices, initiated and taught by Ann Ree Colton, included making mandalas for contemplation and inspiration.

A circle with no ending or beginning, the mandala at first limits you with its boundary circumference, yet sets you free when you surrender to its unfolding within that boundary.

I don’t plan out my mandalas. The only constraint is that a circle shows up somewhere. I allow the mandala to uncover itself. I make mandalas for no particular reason. The “I don’t know” part informs each and every layer.

I originally started making mandalas with colored pencils, progressing to watercolor pencils, gel pens and even acrylic paint on canvas. The digital mandalas started showing up about two years ago. I may have over 200 photoshop layers that come and go before the final version says to me, “I’m done”.

Lately, I have been experimenting with ways of printing them. I use archival paper to print them as giclee prints. I also have printed them on fabric and directly to glass. All these mediums will be shown in this exhibition. I will also show some of my earlier mandalas I made when I was exploring them as a spiritual practice.

Mandalas can be ways to embrace the whole within a circle. We live on a powerful, yet finite, mandala—the earth itself. My deepest hope for people looking at my mandalas is that they will want to draw a circle for themselves and see what shows up…not as an artist but as the divine spirit that breathes via their human form.


The Brandon-Mitchell Gallery is located at the Center for Spiritual Living  at 117 S. Locust Street, Visalia CA 93291.  The Gallery is open Mon-Thurs from 9:30 am – 3:30 pm by ringing the bell at the front door or by appointment at 559.625.2441

transenergizationweb“Transenergization” digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort


Marking time…

For the first time, a calendar made of mandalas shows up….

calendar © Elsah Cort

Made from twelve digital mandalas, the calendar measures 8.5 inches square. I love that I found greenerprinter.com to print the calendars, using soy-based inks and 100% post consumer waste recycled paper (called Reincarnation).

Here is the back page that shows you the twelve mandalas:

Calendar © Elsah Cort
See them at Le (très) Petit Noël on December 3-4, from 10 – 5 pm.
Held at my studio in Three Rivers and featuring other artists.

Call me at 559-561-4671 if you want to make a phone order.

$15 each, plus 8% sales tax. $3 for shipping.

Order calendars online here and I will mail them to you.
theothershore.bigcartel.com/product/mandala-maker-for-2017


There is only the dance…

I make mandalas because they ask to be made…
and the summer heat just knocks me down and out.
The computer takes the helm and I follow without effort.

From a photograph of a mixed media one on canvas that I have on my wall.

"There Is Only the Dance" digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort

“There Is Only the Dance” digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort


Going to Seed….

Mandala born today…it’s name told to me
“Conception: remembering the time when we were…each…just two cells old”.
In our memory bank, buried deep in that wordless space,
we change the world when we acknowledge every single human has been there.

"Conception" digital mandala © Elsah Cort

“Conception” digital mandala © Elsah Cort


A few hours later, watering the garden…going to seed.

"Going to Seed" photos © Elsah Cort

Love-in-the Mist and Rose Campion going to seed underneath the blue oak canopy.

The story of the days of my life lately. I return to a seed.

[photos © Elsah Cort]


New Year Mandalas

Almost every January I make one mandala a day for the first twelve days of the year. The mandalas become a prophetic and inspirational image for each the twelve months to come. Digital mandalas showed up again for the second year in a row. Using the photograph of an acrylic mandala on canvas (that hangs in my living room) in a layer or two, I made these mandalas below using photoshop.

They are for sale in limited editions of twelve as digital prints.

The Heart Knows © Elsah Cort  "Landslide" digital collage © Elsah Cort  "One Layer of Reality" digital collage © Elsah Cort  "Love Returns" digital collage © Elsah Cort
"Soul Compass" digital collage © Elsah Cort  "Guardian" digital collage © Elsah Cort  "Mind Field" © Elsah Cort  "Listening" digital collage © Elsah Cort
"I See You" digital collage © Elsah Cort
  "Lucid Dream" digital collage © Elsah Cort  "The Movement of Now" digital collage © Elsah Cort  "The Bliss Trail" digital collage © Elsah Cort


All images © Elsah Cort
All rights reserved