Category Archives: Mandalas

Be Still and Know…

Just finished this special artwork for the #twitterartexhibit happening next spring in Edinburgh, Scotland. This is the first year (in ten years) that they will accept digital art as a medium. All the art is postcard-sized and one-of-a-kind works made only for this special event. The originals are sold at the exhibition, which is in May. A catalogue is made of all the entries. The money from the exhibit sales go to various non-profit organizations…with the 2019 exhibit going to Art in Healthcare, an organization in Scotland.

Here is my submission, which will be archively printed just this one time by me and added to with a few hand embellishments. I will be mailing it next week.

[“Be Still and Know” digital collage © Elsah Cort]

The Dark Fortnight

This was the last of twelve mandalas made on the first twelve days of 2018. Soon it will be time to do it again in January 2019. I learned this practice from Ann Ree Colton, the founder and teacher of a school called Niscience. I am posting this one day early (on the last day of November), as I am feeling a need for moving into a lighter energy field. The many changes going on both locally (meaning inside me as the most local) and globally have me quite subdued and dimmed. Maybe the rain and cloudy gray days blanket me more that I expected. (And, I still watch and read intensive, informative news that describe the extraordinary pressure happening in the unnerving living history of the country where I live in this lifetime.)

Ann Ree taught about a 14 day period (from Dec 1-14) called the “Dark Fortnight”. During this time we can find ourselves humbled and feeling a bit low. This is the time to prepare for the light that is to come with the appearance of the Christ-child. What makes the real life of Jesus so profound is that his advanced soul chose to incarnate as a human just as humans do. His conception is still a mystery, although some religions have their own mystical explanations of it, but he was physically born via a woman’s birth canal. He experienced that difficult, painful and shocking experience of taking a first breath with his own lungs. He grew to be a man, evolving, discovering, learning and eventually teaching by word and deed of the reason for our being here: LOVE. He was a real human being at one time. He came to show us how to be our authentic selves.

So, back to the dark fortnight….I wish I could remember exactly how Ann Ree described it. It was almost 40 years ago that I heard her talking about it on a video or an audio tape (I never met her in person). What I remember, and experience every year at this time, is that these two weeks can shake us to our core. It’s like a hollowing out of our being, a deep cleaning and gleaning…all to make space for light and love. I don’t mean this poetically, but substantially, as this light and love come as a force and presence, needing room to thrive and exist.

The twelve mandlas, made in January, often have a prophetic nature and this one’s title tells me that we are not alone and are called for something we know not yet.

[“Beckoning” digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort]

One of twelve mandalas made on January 12, 2018.

Water from the sky…

Rain, not just showers, arriving tonight in just a few hours. I hope all the plants on my property (natives already here and the odd ones that I planted that have not been eaten by voles or deer) open their mouths wide. They have not had a serious drink in seven months. The site says it will rain for seven hours, one hour for each dry month (with more coming over the next week).
I feel gratitude welling up inside.

[“From Just One Seed” digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort]

Make Friends with Uncertainty…

The whole time I worked on this mandala, it kept going off center. I couldn’t fix it and wobbled around and around with it. Like a top spinning out of speed, the mandala wobbled into its resting place and I waited for its name to make itself known. Not sure I’m quite ready to follow its advice.

“Make Friends with Uncertainty” digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort

Unwrap Your Blessings

Once again, a mandala shows up with a message for us…

“Unwrap Your Blessings” digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort

Pelted with Beauty

As this mandala kept layering back and forth, going from light to dark and back again, it finally illuminated itself for me tonight. A face showed itself, hiding behind a layer that was made of flowers, looking at me from four viewpoints.

I’ve been thinking of a young woman, barely known by me with just one meeting in the flesh, who was killed almost two weeks ago by a bullet…known by the name, Jessica Orozco. She walked the earth for just barely three decades. I see celebration gatherings popping up for her in several locations (in Arizona and California) with so many people wanting to honor her, celebrate her, mourn her and dance for her. I shower the beauty of flower petals apon her with this mandala. I pelt her with beauty and let tears water the way.

“Pelted By Flowers” digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort

Opening the Akashic Records

I know the akashic records reveal all of the soul’s lives…every moment, thought, feeling and more. Another view from theosophy says they are “a compendium of all human events, thoughts, words, emotions, and intent ever to have occurred in the past, present, or future.” I was surprised when I was given this title for this one. I knew it felt full to me, but I did not realize how full. It kept wanting me to add more and more borders around it. It was spilling over like an endless pool.

The original “borrowed” image that started this mandala was an aerial photo of New Delhi.

“Opening the Akashic Records” digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort

The Birth of Earth

The earth preceded us in birth. We owe her our lives.

“The Birth of Earth” digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort

Meeting Place

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other”
doesn’t make any sense…….Rumi
My testimony, as a soul in a female body, to Congress, should I be summoned, would be these words spoken from a soul incarnated as a man. You know, we do come as both male and female in our many lives on earth. Be wary of identifying too strongly with either. Raise the vibration, turn on the lights, speak clear truth with whatever voice you have been given. Honor each other as ourselves.

Meeting Place” digital collage mandala @ Elsah Cort

Walk Yourself Home

Mandalas nudge me when I see photos on facebook quite often. This one originated from one photo of three human beings who lived on this earth many years ago. I looked into their eyes, captured by the photo lens and in the circumstance of their lives. The photo was staged. Their lives on the earth were not.

“Walk Yourself Home” digital collage © Elsah Cort

The Mountain Echo…

A new mandala, layering and layering itself over many days, originating from a “borrowed” mountain by Georgia O’Keeffe….
I’ve been walking in circles on a New Mexico mesa, singing “Ring around the rosy, ashes, ashes, we all fall down.”

“Listen Long and Well for the Mountain Echo”
digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort

The Path Illuminates Itself

Another mandala from the facebook newsfeed and the notion of “steal like an artist”, made from two photos — one of the Trinity College library in Dublin and the other a handrawn street map of Amsterdam — and I am still walking around the inside paths of my home doing laundry and other chores and doodling on photoshop. I travel the world without going out the door.

“The Path Illuminates Itself” digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort

Clean it up from the inside out…

Bad behavior in anyone does not excuse it in one person, especially someone who is supposed to be an honorable president. Calling anyone names just feeds the energy field that thrives on that judgment, hate and prejudice. This president (who, I think, is deeply flawed and usurped by and immersed within this altered energy field) challenges all of us to speak the truth and not reflect back to him (and each other) the same, disturbed energy he sends out.

We have never before been so called to action to speak the truth and act on it. There are so many lies and deceptions coming from the top, it is landing on all of us as a huge slime. And, slime is not cleaned up by more slime. Residing deep inside each of us is a pure, soul-driven core connected to the big energy (God or the un-named Tao) that beats our hearts.

We all know the truth deep inside. We just have forgotton how to listen to that core where truth dwells. We have let the false “gods” version of what is true layer us with slime. Clean it up from the inside out. Release old false, rigid, made-up notions. Open your mind. Reduce the slime wherever and whenever you can.

[“Mind Field” digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort]


Before I sleep, a mandala tells me it’s finished. I made this from one photograph of a huge subdivision in Las Vegas taken from high above the ground then floated past me in a facebook newsfeed today. So many, many layers, twists and turns, and it came to rest as a mandala.

“Meltdown” digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort

Seed Gestation

Today I sorted cloth mandalas, feeling overwhelmed in a peculiar way.
Now, another one shows up, in the wake of the new moon tomorrow.

“Seed Gestation” digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort

Make It So

A mandala breaks through on a hazy day, started several days ago, and slowly coming to a finished place. This one has me wandering around and around in it.

“Make It So” digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort

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


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 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.

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