Linda Baird’s homey kitchen is flooded with sunlight streaming in through an expansive window, sunbeams highlighting every scratch and scuff on a well-worn wooden table tucked into a corner.
Each mark is a badge of pride for the Green Hill resident who makes handcrafted works of art at her kitchen table. Settled comfortably in her corner of the table, she is surrounded by the tools of her trade: paint, dot tools and most importantly, imagination.
Baird hand paints mandalas on coffee mugs, stones, key chains, canvas, and these days, on Christmas ornaments. Each piece is a true work of art and, like artists before her, no two pieces are exactly alike.
Mandala comes from Sanskrit meaning “circle.” Even though it may have features like squares or triangles, a mandala always has a concentric (circular) nature. Mandalas offer balancing visual elements, symbolizing unity and harmony. The meaning each mandala holds is limited only by the creator and the observer.
To the naked eye, each design Baird creates is a true work of art, whether she is painting on canvas or creating mandalas on coffee mugs. But she is quick to point out she does not consider herself to be an artist. “It’s a hobby,” she explains. Also amongst Baird’s hobbies are knitting, crocheting, painting, needle work, pebble art and more.
“I always have to keep myself busy doing things,” Baird grins.
A friend saw mandala art painted on rocks on Pinterest and suggested Baird give it a try. She did, and she loves it.
“So I went rock hunting,” Baird laughs. “All over the beaches of Nova Scotia — from one end of the province to the next.” And it became a family affair with her husband and father also in the hunt. “But the first stones I painted, I wouldn’t show anybody. I gave a lot of it away to friends and family.”
But practise makes perfect and now, more than two years later, Baird’s artwork is in demand. During her first appearance at the New Glasgow Farmers Market she practically sold out of items. She will be at the market again tonight, 4-8 p.m.
Mandalas mean different things to different people, Baird explains. “To me, I had anxiety and (creating mandalas) was very calming; and it’s meant to be calming and relaxing and healing. As I do this I get more relaxed, I tune out everything and I just keep going until I’m done. It’s therapeutic.”
It was a huge confidence-booster to Baird when people started to seek her out asking for her creations. “The first time a stranger asked me to make something …” she smiles, “for me was amazing.” For Baird, it was a validation that her work meant something to someone.
And her work has gone global. “I sold pieces to people at the farmers market that have gone all the way to Europe, South America,” she beams. “The first farmers market I did I had three different people taking them to different parts of the world. That just made my day.”
And so she keeps on creating — every chance she gets. She loves the fact that her mandalas can have the same calming, therapeutic effect on those who own her pieces as creating them does on her.