Sydney Schley: Something Peaceful

Artist Statement

After losing my brother to suicide, feeling calm became foreign to me for some time. I was introduced to the practice of drawing mandalas during the most difficult time in my life. A time when anxiety dominated all of my thoughts and actions. Not only did creating this art help me find calm again, it helped me find a deeper connection with my brother with each line, curve, and shade.

Mandalas are an ancient form of art. Traditionally, they serve as important tools for practices like meditation. Drawing a mandala is a meditative exercise. Each piece takes about 20 hours to complete. I consider this time a prolonged meditation. A disposition of tranquility is often achieved through the repetitive movement.

Each mandala starts in pencil with one circle made with a compass. Then, smaller circles are added to produce the layers you see. From the center, radiating lines are drawn using a protractor and ruler. With this foundation, the process of connecting lines, creating shapes, and filling in details with fine point pens begins. I utilized optical illusions to further emphasize the mind-altering power of these artforms. I also relied exclusively on black and white to incite feelings of balance and coolness.

As you view these works, I hope observing the intersecting lines, uniformity, and repetition bring you a feeling of calm. I also hope you can see the struggle captured within them. The struggle to give rise to something beautiful out of ugliness; something peaceful out of tragedy.

About the Project 

  • Title of Work: Something Peaceful
  • Medium: This project is a collection of ten hand-drawn mandalas. Right now, they are on 9x11 paper and they will be framed.
  • Student's Name: Sydney Schley
  • Major: International Studies (Environmental Studies)
  • Anticipated Graduation Date: May 2022
  • Hometown: Clinton, Missouri
  • Student's Mentor: Deborah Huelsbergen
  • Mentor's Department: Visual Studies


Linda Blockus

I am glad you found a way to bring some calm into your life.  The work is beautiful and I encourage other visitors to click on the images to zoom in to see the details.

Great job on the artist's video - some very nice touches with showing us how you do the work and you and your cat at the end!


Benton Kidd

My colleague and I at the Museum of Art and Archaeology very much enjoyed your work and the ideas it expresses. A wonderful example of art as catharsis. "Sinking" is just so captivating.


Deborah Huelsbergen

Syd I am so proud of you. You are simply the best mandala artist I have ever known. I hope to one day be able to do the kind of deep, thoughtful, beautiful work that you do. Not sure I will ever get there but you inspire me on so many levels. Thank you for taking my class. Love you sweetie. 


Ying Hu

These drawings are beautiful and full of details!