Playing with 3-1/2″ Floppy Disks #5

Floppy Disk Art, Techniques, Uncategorized

Ever wonder about what to do with all those 3-1/2″ floppy disks that you have taking up space in your office, closet, house?  Well here’s yet another idea…and I might say my wildest one yet.

Paint the disk black

Paint the disk black

In this first photo, I combined a couple of steps.

  1. Find a black floppy disk
  2. Paint the whole front face with black acrylic paint (I put on 3 coats)
  3. Find something wacky to put in the disk.  In this case I had these white coils that were excess from the coils I use to bind my Mandala Coloring Books
  4. Start gluing the pieces onto the disk
Add the coils

Add the coils

I used duco cement to glue the coils onto the disk; it’s strong and dries clear.  I also pulled out some plastic mardi gras beads.  I cut individual white beads and put some inside the coils, which are little difficult to see in this photo.  In the one, you’ll see them better.

I also cut individual pieces of the purple beads, which are actually little dice…if you look closely you’ll see the ‘5’ side of the second purple bead.

Finished Disk

Finished Disk

Here’s the finished piece – view #1

Finished Disk - Different View

Finished Disk - Different View

Finished Disk - side view

Finished Disk - side view

Here’s a side view that more clearly shows the white beads and purple die.

How wacky can you make your Da Ta art?

Have fun!

Maureen, The Mandala Lady


Burnishing Spirals


In one of my favorite movies, “North by Northwest” (Gary Grant starred, Alfred Hitchcock directed), there’s a scene where Grant’s character figures out where the femme fatale is going by rubbing a pencil over the paper that was under the paper she wrote down an address.  That’s the premiss of this particular creative activity.

The use of spirals is inspired by the spirals found at the Newgrange Ireland Megalithic Passage Tomb. In 1996, my husband and I spent the last afternoon of our last day in Ireland in this area. It was amazing. I want to go back so I can spend more time exploring.

Newgrange Spirals

Newgrange Spirals


  • a burnishing tool, this can be anything that has a smooth point to it, like a knitting needle, a nut picker, the tip of a pen cap, etc.
  • a piece of paper to draw & color on
  • color pencils (for this example, I used prismacolor canary yellow, scarlet lake, and true blue


Step 1:  Take the burnishing tool and draw a spiral on the paper.

Draw Spiral

Step 1: Draw Spiral

Step 2:  Draw as many spirals as you want on the paper.

Draw more spirals

Step 2: Draw more spirals

Step 3:  Using a color pencil, in this case I used the red, color over the spirals.  In this photo, I used the side of the pencil tip and colored with a light pressure.  What you’ll see that where the spiral was burnished into the paper, remains white, while the rest of the area takes on the red color.

Add Red Lightly

Step 3: Add Red Lightly

Step 4:  Now color with hard pressure.  When you do, the white of the burnishing shows up even more.

Add more pressure

Step 4: Add more pressure

Step 5:  Add another color, in this case I added yellow.  Color over the existing red (it will become orange) and into the uncolored area.

Add more pressure

Step 5: Add yellow

Step 6: Now add some blue.  Here too, color over some of the existing red, and then into the uncolored area.  Notice what makes that spirals stand out more, and where they are less noticeable.

Add Blue

Step 6: Add Blue

In the End:

Final Piece

Final Piece

This particular exercise was about showing you how to create a unique look to your coloring.

Here’s an example of an mandala I did using this very technique.

Spirals Mandala

Spirals Mandala

Happy Coloring!

Maureen, The Mandala Lady

Playing with Watercolor Pencils

Colors, Uncategorized, Watercolor Pencils

Today we’re going to play with two watercolor pencils and accomplish three tasks with one activity:

  1. Play with watercolor pencils
  2. Create a painting with just two colors
  3. Using shading to create depth and dimension

Please keep in mind that this activity is about playing and experimenting. Precision, exactness of shape, perspective and lighting?…these concepts are for future activities.

Disclaimer: This is my approach and lacking any formal training. I learned by playing with the pencils versus taking any classes. I would recommend that if you want to pursue this medium further, search out classes, books and/or other web sites on this topic. Of course you may find that you learn best by just playing and experimenting with them.


  • a piece of 140# cold press watercolor paper (cold press has more texture to the paper)
  • 2 watercolor brushes: I used a small round brush, and a 1/2″ flat brush (you can use these or whatever watercolor brushes you have available to you).
  • 2 watercolor pencils: red and blue (I used Stabilo Aquatico brand…but almost any brand of watercolor pencil will do).
  • a good pencil sharpener…metal sharpeners work much better than cheap plastic ones)
  • 1 light gray watercolor pencil to draw out the design. You can use a regular pencil; the lines you draw will be visible as you paint. With the watercolor pencil, the gray will disappear into the painting. As an added activity do this painting twice, once with a gray watercolor pencil and once with a regular pencil. See which one you like better.
  • a small jar of water


  1. Use your gray w/c pencil (or regular pencil) to draw out this loosely drawn balloon shape. Again, forget about precision…keeping it loosely drawn, makes it more interesting.
  2. Step 1

  3. Using the side tip of the red w/c pencil, roughly color in the balloon shape. Whatever angle you color, be consistent throughout. I colored on a right angle. You’re welcome to color straight up & down, on a left angle, or horizontally.
  4. Step 2

  5. The balloon filled in with red
  6. Step 3

  7. Color with the blue pencil along the right side of the balloon, following the shape of the balloon. What color do you get when you mix blue and red? Purple!
  8. Step 4

  9. The balloon with the blue added. Using the blue in this way makes the balloon look more 3-dimensional instead of flat.
  10. Step 5

  11. Take the round brush, dip it in water, and brush over the red section, brushing at the same angle as the original coloring and along the outside edge of the drawing.
  12. Step 6

  13. Mid-way with brushing through red section. As needed, wet your brush to help with the spreading of color.
  14. Step 7

  15. The red section after brushing and a little into the blue section
  16. Step 8

  17. Now brush through the blue section and along the shape of the balloon’s right side
  18. Step 9

  19. Here’s another way to use your w/c pencils…dip the red pencil directly into the water
  20. Step 10

  21. Now color the red as you did when the pencil was dry, continuing on the same angle as you originally colored. It will take several dippings back and forth between the water and the paper. You’ll see that the color will go on darker, with some lines. This will give the painting some texture.
  22. Step 11

  23. Wet color over the red section and then use the blue pencil to wet color over the blue section
  24. Step 12

  25. Use the wet red pencil to overlap the blue and red sections
  26. Step 13

  27. After you overlap…
  28. Step 14

  29. Add more blue, as needed, to the blue section
  30. Step 15

  31. Add more red, leave a small curved rectangular area with less red. This will act as a reflection and give the balloon more of a 3-dimensional shape.
  32. Step 16

  33. Now here’s the surprise…turn the painting upside down. My original intent for this painting was to create a balloon. On a whim, when I got to this point, I decided to turn the painting upside down. I found this to be more interesting…now it looks more like a vase.
  34. Step 17

  35. The vase feels link it needs a background. The general rule of thumb when painting is to paint the background first and then the subject. Since my approach to this painting was very loosely based, we’re doing it a little backwards…and that’s ok. Here I took the blue pencil, and very loosely colored in some blue in the bottom third of the paper.
  36. Step 18

  37. Using the flat w/c brush, wet the brush and spread the color out along the paper. By putting only a little blue on the paper from step 18, the blue becomes a light blue when water is added to it.
  38. Step 19

  39. To give the painting more depth, create a shadow area to the side of the vase. Use a wet blue pencil to color in the shadow. Make it curved so that it resembles the shape of the vase. Then add some wet red pencil to the shadow. You can smooth it out if necessary with a brush. You can play around with the shadow placement. Just know that the light is coming from the right, so the shadow has to be somewhere on the right. I’ll be discussing shadows in another activity.
  40. Step 20

  41. To finish the background, lightly color in some red (dry pencil) in the upper 2/3rds of the paper.
  42. Step 21

  43. Use the flat w/c brush, wet the brush and spread the color out along the paper. And we’re done!
  44. Step 22

The way I placed the shadow on the blue surface, makes the vase look like it’s floating. Play around with the shadow placement and notice what happens to the vase.

And look at how many colors appear in this painting…it still blows me away with what you can create with using only two colors.!

As an added activity, do this painting a few more times using other pairings of colors. The only requirement would be that one color be lighter and one darker (ie: yellow & green, pink & brown, orange & purple, etc.)

Whatever you do, just have fun with it & experiment!

Happy Painting!

Maureen, The Mandala Lady

Let’s Play with Values

Contrasts/Values, Fundamentals, Uncategorized

Over the last umpteen years, the term “values” has been tossed about in the cultural, political, and religious venues, mostly to profess who has more values than anyone else. Today, I’m going to talk with you about fundamental values in the art/creativity world.

In art, the term ‘values’ refers to the varying shades of color from the lightest lights to the darkest darks. Without values, our creations would be bland and flat. It’s values that give art their depth and dimension.

I made a simple 5-block color chart showing the step-by-step conversion from white to black. This can be done for any color, but black and white are the most effective way to make the point. The biggest fear I notice when people color/paint is being bold with their darker shades. Mainly it’s because they are usually up close to their work when they are coloring/painting that it looks to drastic and too bold. When I ask them to step back and then look at it, then they see how it actually enhances their art rather than harms it. I’m constantly telling people to “be bold!” The more contrasting values you use in your painting, the more interesting it will be.

Gray Scale

It’s the lights and darks that help differentiate between different objects in your painting. They create depth and dimension. In general, lighter shades will appear closer, while darker colors tend to recede. With regard to atmospheric perspective (a topic for another day), the opposite is true.

Let’s Play…

  1. Create your own 5-block gray scale like the one in the image above. I used prismacolor pencils to create that chart. Almost any good quality pencil that claims you can blend colors will work also.The best way to approach it is to color white in on one end and then black in the opposite end. Then in the middle block color in equal amounts of white and black to create a color that looks half way between white and black. Then proceed to color in the lighter gray color by coloring in more white than black. The color the darker gray by coloring in more black than white.If you want something a little more challenging along while learning how to make subtle differences in your values, try creating a gray scale with 10 blocks.
  2. Create a doodle drawing and color it using various shades of gray, black, and white. Take a piece of paper, get something round that you can trace (plate, for example) or use a compass and draw out a circle. Then with a pencil, doodle one long line up and down and all round the circle. Now with all the different shapes that have been created, color in each one with difference shades of gray, black and white. Here’s one I did recently.
Gray Scale Doodle

Gray Scale Doodle

Happy Coloring!

Peace, Maureen Maiah Frank

#1: Let’s Explore the Color Green

Colors, Uncategorized

This week’s assignment, should you decide to accept it, is to explore the color green.
Green is a secondary color, made from the combination of two primary colors: yellow and blue.

What do you associate with the color green…

  • an amateur, someone new to something
  • the environment
  • money
  • envy
  • feeling nauseous
  • one of the chakra colors (heart)
  • anything else? What do you associate with green?

You can vary the shades of green…

  • add more yellow
  • add more blue
  • use different shades/temperatures of yellow [ such as lemon yellow (cool) or canary yellow (warm) ]
  • use different shades of blue [ such as slate blue (warm) or indigo blue (cool)]

Let’s Play…

As you play with these ideas, I would love to read your comments about your experiences with doing these exercises. If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them here.

  1. Pull out your yellow and blue crayons/colored pencils/pastels/paints/etc and play with creating green. Note which combinations give you a bright green versus a darker olive green. Does it make a difference to color blue on top of yellow versus yellow on top of blue? As a bonus, create a color chart similar to what I have made here (I did this with Prismacolor Color Pencils).

    Green Color Chart

    Green Color Chart

  2. Now pull out some of your green pencils/crayons/paint/etc.  Look at the difference between using a green color versus the green you make from yellow and blue. What do you notice about the two? Step back from the two.  Can you tell the difference between the two?  What else do you notice about the green versus the created green?
  3. Explore the vegetation in the outdoor world in your neighborhood/town/city.
    • Where do see green?
    • Is everything the same shade of green?
    • Look at one tree, bush, and/or plant. How many shades of green do you really see on it? Is it within the vegetation itself or is it because part of it is in the shade?
  4. Look at this photo below. At first glance you can see that trees are on both sides of the street. When you look more closely you see that the trees are different shades of green. If you were to do a realistic coloring of this photo, you’d have to use several different colors of green. Look at the tree closest to you on the right. Notice the leaves, they go from a very dark green at the bottom to a brighter shade of green on the left side. Why is that? For the most part, each leaf is basically the same color. The difference is that some of the leaves block light to the leaves below and the ones closer to the trunk. The more that light is taken away, the darker the color of the leaves become. If you look at the tree through squinted eyes, you may notice patterns and shapes of darker greens and lighter greens. See if you can re-create theses shapes by playing with lighter and darker shades of green.

    Trees on Street

    Trees on Street

  5. Where else do you see green in your world? clothing, appliances, vehicles, etc. Do you notice varying shades of green within each item? Notice where the light source (sun, light bulb, daylight, etc.) is coming from and how it changes the shade of green aimed at the light and on the other side, away from the light. Your mind knows that the item is all the same shade of green, however when you really look at the item, you’ll see that more than one shade of green exists there because of how the light reflects off and around it.
  6. Take a piece of green material (tablecloth, shirt, blanket, towel, etc.). Rumple it up so you have hills and valleys of material. Shine a light on it from an angle. What happens to that original shade of green? Where is the green brighter, darker? Play with coloring/painting it.

Happy Coloring!