How to Make a Mixed-Media Collage Mandala

Drawing a mandala is like exploring movement with an experimental dance. You turn on music that moves your soul, close your mind to the minutiae that takes up your thoughts, and start moving your feet. Or your elbow. Remember–the dance or drawing exercise isn’t about moving. It’s about being moved, and that can take you to unexpected places.

Mixed-media collage mandalas | Kathryn Costa,
Kathryn is known as a “collage diva,” and I can see why in this mandala detail!

When you pick up a pencil to begin drawing a mandala, you likely won’t know what it’s going to look like until the graphite has found its way through the circle of patterns that flow. When this is happening, you’re tapping into your creativity and nurturing a part of the mind that thrives when we allow it to.

Today, Kathryn Costa is here to let you take mandalas a step further by creating one that begins as a mixed-media collage. This gives your work a new level of patterns, colors, and shapes to be discovered.

Here’s more from Kathryn’s The Mandala Guidebook, which is the featured title of an exclusive Mixed Media Mandala Starter Kit. The kit also includes two StencilGirl mandala stencils and three bottles of Ranger Dylusions Ink Spray, in Calypso Teal, Bubblegum Pink, and Dirty Martini.

Mixed-media collage mandalas | Kathryn Costa,

How to Make a Mixed-Media Collage Mandala by Kathryn Costa

I really like the idea of repurposing or giving new life to something that would otherwise be thrown away. Before you toss your junk mail, see if there are any hidden gems in it. Catalogs, outdated calendars, food wrappers, and packaging are all potential fodder for these mandala projects.

1. Tear up enough pieces of printed papers to cover the background of your paper or canvas. In this example I used a variety of scrapbook papers and sheet music on top of watercolor paper.

2. Brush the back of each piece with soft gel (matte) medium using an old flat brush. Coat the entire surface with more soft gel medium to varnish. Allow to dry.

Mixed-media collage mandalas | Kathryn Costa,

3. Lightly rub Tim Holtz Distress ink pads over the surface to create an even tone among the various random pieces of paper. I like the smaller ink pads as they give me more control over the placement of the inks. Run the darker color inks along the outside edge to give the piece a finished look. Allow to dry.

Mixed-media collage mandalas | Kathryn Costa,

4. Use a grid method (see Chapter 2 of The Mandala Guidebook) to lightly draw your mandala with a pencil. In this example, I drew an 8″ (20cm) circle divided into eight sections.

Mixed-media collage mandalas | Kathryn Costa,

5. Decorate your mandala with a variety of coloring mediums. I used an assortment of markers. Some markers are opaque, while others are transparent and designed for blending. Experiment and discover how your tools work.

6. Embellish and add details with a white gel pen. If you used text paper for your background, you’ll find that it’s fun to see unexpected words and phrases emerge in and around the final mandala. ~Kathryn

Imagine the beautiful mandalas you can create, even if you’re brand new to this, with the Mixed Media Mandala Starter Kit. Kathryn breaks down the steps and makes it easy to learn the techniques while providing beautiful examples (such as the ones I’ve featured above) that are sure to leave you inspired.

Happy exploring,


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Blog, Collage, Mixed-Media Techniques


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