The mandala is a tool for gaining wisdom and compassion and generally is depicted as a tightly balanced, geometric composition wherein deities reside. The principal deity is housed in the center.

The mandala serves as a tool for guiding individuals along the path to enlightenment. Monks meditate upon the mandala, imagining it as a three-dimensional palace. The deities who reside in the palace embody philosophical views and serve as role models. The mandala’s purpose is to help transform ordinary minds into enlightened ones.

I created these this morning, on my Kindle Fire, from photos of my art work.

Looking Glass

“Looking Glass” photo manipulation by V. Castellanos

Into the looking glass, looking glass
I fall, I fall, I fall
Mirror, mirror, on the wall
Do you see me, at all, at all?

Into the looking glass
Mirror, mirror, mirror me
Into the looking glass
I look
I look
But, what do I see?

Mirror, mirror, on the wall
Do you see me, at all, at all?

Out of the looking glass
Mirror, mirror, mirror me
Out of the looking glass
Is this who I want to be?

Mirror, mirror, on the wall
Out of the looking glass
I crawl


How to not paint a self portrait

First you decide to learn how to paint a portrait. Then, you try and try on your own but, you find out its really more difficult than it appears and, it doesn’t even appear that easy. Then, you look for a teacher, which may or may not work. I went to art school and even there I didn’t even find a good teacher. I only learned three things in art school:

  1. You have to compare the shape and size of everything to the shape and size of everything else.
  2. The direction of the light is important.
  3. If you choose to paint with oil paints you spend a lot of time washing brushes

So, if you don’t want to look for, or can’t find a teacher, I can sympathize. I live in the forest between the Backwoods and No Man’s Land. No art teachers here. Next best thing is to look at a lot of portraits, so, pack up and go off to a museum. Better yet, search portraits in Google, Bing or Pinterest. Better because you can see lots and lots of portraits and because you don’t have to go to a museum.
Now, get lots of paper and pencils or ink. (Don’t even think about color yet. Color complicates everything.)Also, get a large trash bin and maybe a pack of matches (now that it’s December the nights get a little cool and it might be a long night) and, try, try again. You will probably do better. Not necessarily good, but, better. That was me anyway.
After a while, when you judge you are ready, take a break. Go to the closet and get out your digital camera. Take a bunch of pictures of yourself and pick out the best ones. Run them through the best software you can find and print them as large as your printer allows. Hang them on the wall, lean back and put your feet up.
Time to celebrate! Have a glass of wine, or bourbon, or heroin, or whatever. You have succeeded in creating a self portrait even if you still can’t paint. Take comfort in the idea that you would paint better now than you did before. Tomorrow … to be continued … back to the drawing board.


Transition – The Forest

The Forest – “Days Before Winter” faux lithograph
The Forest – “Winter Days” – faux lithograph

Paint what you love.

I love the seasons, the weather, the breath and the heartbeat of the earth, the change over, the switch between autumn’s old age and the bleak winter wherein life slows down, stops, hibernates, the festivals of stars, the everlasting, immortal stars, and the celebration of the wobble of the earth, not so extreme as to throw us all into the danger of extinction, but, to remind us of possibilities. To celebrate our good fortune. Time to rest, to contemplate, to reflect, to tell stories.

Walk through the woods, in the quiet of the afternoon or in a dream. At what moment does the season change?

Fall in the Florida Forests

“An Orchard in Florida” Photo Art – faux watercolor
"A Walk in the Wilderness" Photo Art - faux oil painting
“A Walk in the Wilderness” Photo Art – faux oil painting
"Kanapaha Overlook" Photo Art - faux watercolor
“Kanapaha Overlook” Photo Art – faux watercolor


"An Autumn Afternoon" Photo Art - faux watercolor
“An Autumn Afternoon” Photo Art – faux watercolor

The Florida forests are generally by passed by visitors so anxious to instead reach the white sand beaches, the mysterious Everglades or the legendary Land of Mickey and, thus a great deal of beauty is missed.

Three Abstracts

An abstract is a self-contained, short, and powerful statement which describes something larger. It is a departure from reality.

An abstract exists in thought or as an idea but has no physical or concrete existence. Thus we are in the realm of the imagination.
Here we reduce to the essentials and portray the essence. The representation, not of a thing but, of a though about a thing, the feeling of a thing.

“The Essence of a Flower” by Valeria Castellanos

Not a flower but, the idea of a flower, of every flower, of all flowers.

“Wind Flower” by Valeria Castellanos

A flower at the mercy of the wind, immersed in the turbulence of the world, struggling for its own existence and continuation.

“Cave of the Blue Dragon” by Valeria Castellanos

The cave beyond the horizon wherein the Blue Dragon, mistress of seas and skies, mother of mists and foam, mother of clouds and rain, sleeps and dreams.