Imagine for a moment that you found a 4 foot diameter round wooden oak table top, in perfectly good condition with a smooth flawless surface. Then, imagine you were an artist that was always on the lookout for round painting services, because it’s very difficult to create a round surface using traditional canvas or other materials. You bring that table top home with you because you have been planning on painting a mandala for several years.

When you get home you find out about the latest mass shooting, 50 dead at a gay nightclub in Orlando. At first it seems to you like another day with the same news of a shooting, and then you remember all the insults that have been shouted at you, the beer bottles thrown from passing cars, the men taunting and picking fights, physically trying to hurt you, the messages written on your car, and more than anything, the fear of being a hate target. Hated for something you have no control over.

Garden Temple 48" x 48" Primer tinted with acrylic on discarded wooden table top.

Garden Temple 48″ x 48″
Primer tinted with acrylic on discarded wooden table top.

For some reason the tragedy brings out all that anger again. Everyone becomes the horrible monster because they’re all playing along with the fact that it’s another mass shooting. They forget the true crime of bigotry, bullying and prejudice that manifests itself in so many dimensions with this event. Imagine the anger you feel and the nightmarish experiences from the past that emerge. What do you do with that anger, all of that frightening energy coming from nowhere?

You start from the center. You think it through and decide what to put in the middle of that round wooden oak table top. Then you find something to put next to that and very, very slowly, through the course of weeks, you try to make sense of things with each application of paint, every mixture of colors, each washing out of every brush, returning to the same surface day after day. It becomes a test of endurance as your energy is deflected from anger into something better.

As you near completion you expect some excitement or sense of gratification, but there is nothing. You are dazzled by what you have created, it pulsates and glows, an example of perfection and symmetry. For some reason, despite the beauty, it doesn’t make anything better. It’s like a journey from point A to point A, and you wish the wind could blow it all away, sweep it back into infinity like the sand paintings you emulated.

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Chris Bird is a designer for print and web specializing in the development of marketing materials for a varied spectrum of clients. He currently resides in Santa Rosa, California. His music website is at and his painting and fine arts website is located at