Mesa artist’s mandala works are eye-catching The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

Mesa artist’s mandala works are eye-catching

January 1st, 2021 Mesa Tribune Staff
Mesa artist’s mandala  works are eye-catching

By Srianthi Perera
Tribune Contributor

Gilbert Visual Artist League member artist Shelley Marler is a talented oil portraitist whose work has garnered many awards.

The Mesa resident has added to her accomplishments with mandala art, designs painted in acrylic paint with concentric circles and a unique center.

“I saw a mandala on the internet and it intrigued me, and I decided to give it a try. I really enjoyed it, and it continued from there,” said Marler.

Two years and about 70 mandalas later, her newfound success inspired Marler to create and market a 2021 calendar with 13 mandala art creations. 

Mandala means “circle” in Sanskrit and art that uses it is not new.

Mandala art originated in Southeast Asia in Hinduism and Buddhism and is found in ancient Tibetan writing and sketches, cloth paintings and murals. Mandalas are used as instruments of meditation and symbols of prayer in China, Japan and Tibet.

To Marler, they are a healing art form.

“I find that when I’m painting a mandala, I become more serene,” she said. “I can focus on my own spirituality, I pray, I relax and become so focused on my work that I often don’t feel the physical pain from my fibromyalgia. It’s so meditative and therapeutic for me.”

Marler’s mandala paintings are created with acrylic paints, especially the glossies and metallic brands and colors that pop on a black background.

“When I first started, I used whatever tools I could find,” the artist said.

Those tools include pencil ends, toothpicks, pen points, flat ends of crochet hooks, and for larger dots, mascara and lipstick tube ends. She also used wooden dowels, but they didn’t hold up very long.

Later, she invested in more professional tools and use ball styluses, embossing art tools and various sized acrylic rods.

“Many artists use the stencils, but I found I prefer to use a circle compass, and with a chalk pencil draw lines from corner to corner keeping me centered and the design more uniform,” she said.

Measuring is important, too.

“I make up the designs as I go and often center a design of my customer’s choosing to personalize it for them,” she added.

Marler sells, and sometimes donates, her work.

Recently, she created a portrait and a “medical mandala” for Portraits for Heroes, a project that originated in the United Kingdom in which artists chose medical workers on the pandemic’s front lines and painted their portraits to show their appreciation.

Her medical mandala to a registered nurse at a hospital in Utah had a caduceus, the medical insignia bearing a representation of a staff with two entwined snakes and two wings at the top.

Her mandalas are priced according to size and how much work is involved in them, including the center design, which can be personalized for the buyer. Prices range between $40 to $200.

“I’ve given them as ‘thank you’ gifts as well; to my wonderful neighbor who often helps me, my landscaping guy, people in my church and good friends,” she said. “I’ve given or sold medical mandalas, with the winding snake insignia, to several of my own doctors.”

The calendar is priced at $22 each.

“I had often thought of selling prints, but the calendar idea popped into my head and I thought that’s so much better,” she said. “My customers receive a print of 13 of my mandalas, one for each month, plus the cover, and each photo is hand signed by me.”

As soon as Marler announced she was selling her calendars online, there were so many orders that she sold out. She has ordered a second batch and they are available. If she receives many more orders, she plans to order another batch.

In addition to oil portraits and mandalas, Marler also teaches classes in oil painting to beginners (they are now suspended due to the pandemic), does fine art and decorative painting and creates art with polymer clay. In the past she has also been a face painter for children’s events.

To see more of Shelley Marler’s work, visit

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