Creating an Adirondack Personal Mandala
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Grade: 9th - 12th grade
Class: Studio in Art, Art Electives
Author: Sue Freese
Retired - Town of Webb School
NYS Content Area Standard:
The Arts:
Standard 1: Creating, Performing, and Participating in the Arts
Standard 4: Understanding the Cultural Dimensions and Contributions of the Arts
NYS Interdisciplinary Standard:
Adirondack Curriculum Content Area:
Culture & The Arts
Performance Indicators:

Arts: Standard 1: Creating & Performing: use selected mediums and techniques to communicate their ideas;

Standard 4: the Cultural Contributions of the Arts: create art works that reflect a variety of cultural influences

Keywords: mandala, painting
The Challenge:
Investigative Question or Issue: Who am I as an "Adirondacker"?

Prior to engaging in this challenge, students participated in a presentation by artist Sandra Hildreth  in which she shared her Adirondack mandala paintings with the class. Students also received guided practice in the creation of mandala designs.

Note from the author: The cameras allowed students to freely photograph the things that were important to them. The became reference material and personal inspiration to be used in their sketchbooks. They were later used to create photo mandalas (which could be an additional challenge).  The writing that accompanied their mandalas was passionate and from the heart - it could become a shared assignment with an English class.

A NYSCA Challenge

The Challenge:

Create a "personal mandala*", with acrylic paints, using your Adirondack experiences as a theme.

Process: Create a personal folder of drawing sketchbook that will include:

  • Photos, from a disposable or digital camera, that record Adirondack places, people, symbols that have personal significance.
  • A list symbols, designs, images, and other information that has personal meaning to you. You will be able to use this in the mandala and in your personal essay that must accompany your final painting.
  • The guided practice activity about mandala design
Quality Standards:
  • Research and personal reference materials will be organized in a folder, or drawing sketchbook
  • A 14 - 18" canvas will be constructed and primed properly
  • Painting will incorporate a mandala design and will include personal images, symbols, designs, etc., that will help illustrate "Who am I as an 'Adirondacker'?"
  • The acrylic paints will be used in a skillful manner, demonstrating good understanding of:
    • Color mixing,
    • Composition, and
    • Painting techniques
  • A reflective personal essay to explain the painting will be completed and handed in with the finished product.

We will discuss the timeframe for this project in class.

Examples of Student Work

Product Quality Checklist
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Standard/Criteria: Points Possible: Points Awarded:

Used a Folder or Sketchbook to collect and save resources and ideas. It must include:

  • Photographic records of Adirondack places, people, symbols of personal significance that you have gathered using a disposable or digital camera
  • <


Properly constructed and gessoed 14-18" canvas


Produced "personal mandala" that includes an Adirondack theme, using acrylic paints on canvas. The media is used in a skillful manner, demonstrating good understanding of:

  • color mixing,
  • composition, and
  • painting tec


Personal Essay handed in with painting that revealed the thinking and inspiration that led to the creation of the mandala.


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