How to Make a Spiral Mandala: Soothing Shell

With such beautiful symmetry, seashells make lovely inspiration for mandala designs. Learn how to make a spiral mandala with the shape and shimmer of a shell.

An oval tan rock on a bright green background. A spiral mandala is painted in shades of pink, cream, and brown.

The spiral is a classic mandala shape, but it’s seen less often in modern painted rock mandalas. But it’s a great match for an oval stone like this one, since the pattern gets larger to fill the sides.

First, get a general overview of how to paint mandala rocks, then dive right into this spiral shell design. I love the pearling medium added to the paint, it really gives the impression of the inside of a shell.

Excerpt and photos are from my book Mandala Rock Painting Made Simple. This post may contain affiliate links, I could earn a small commission from purchases at no cost to you.

yellow background with white text that reads "The often symmetrical shapes of seashells make ideal inspiration for mandalas. Here, soft colors and a spiral design create a repeating pattern that is as soothing to look at as it is to paint."

1 hour

Smooth 2-inch by 3-inch oval rock

1-inch flat brush;
Extra-small, small, and medium dotting tools;
Pointed-tip tool

Sand, brown, light pink, and cream acrylic paints;
Pearlizing medium;
Spray-on varnish sealant

How to Paint a Spiral Shell Mandala

PREPARE THE ROCK AND BEGIN THE DESIGN. Paint a sand base coat, using the flat brush. Starting at the center point of the rock, use a pencil to draw a spiral guideline from the center of the rock to the right bottom edge, looping around 4 times.

Begin dotting from the center along the spiral, using the extra-small dotting tool and brown paint.

Close up view of a tan rock with a spiral white chalk guideline. A wooden dotting tool paints tiny brown dots on the center of the guideline.

CONTINUE DOTTING THE SPIRAL. Continue painting brown dots along the spiral, gradually increasing the dot size with larger dotting tools until you reach the end.

Close up view of a tan rock with a spiral white chalk guideline. A wooden dotting tool paints increasingly larger brown dots on the guideline.

PAINT THE LEAF SHAPES. Mix light pink paint 1:1 with the pearlizing medium.

Starting near the center, use the pointed-tip tool to dot and drag (see Flourishes, page XX) tiny leaf shapes around the spiral, between the dotted lines. Increase the tool and leaf sizes to fit the space.

Close up view of a tan rock with a spiral of brown dots. A wooden dotting tool paints increasingly larger pink diamonds between layers of the spiral.

ACCENT THE LEAF SHAPES. With the extra-small dotting tool, make a small cream dot in the center of the smallest leaves.

When the leaves get large enough, switch to making 3 dots on each leaf. Increase to 5 dots on the largest leaves.

Close up view of a tan rock with a spiral of brown dots and pink diamonds. A wooden dotting tool paints 5 tiny cream dots in the center of each diamond.

PAINT THE FINAL DETAILS AND VARNISH. Using the pointed-tip tool, dot and drag a small swish in the space between the leaf tips, as close to the dotted swirl lines as space permits.

Switch to the extra- small dotting tool when there is more space between the leaves. When completely dry, varnish stone.

Close up view of a tan rock with a spiral of brown dots and cream dotted pink diamonds. A wooden dotting tool paints a cream swish between each diamond

Share this Spiral Seashell Mandala with Friends

Your shares are how this site grows, and I am genuinely appreciative when you do. Pin to your favorite Christmas Pinterest board or share this idea to a craft group on Facebook.

A large close up photo of a dotting tool adding tiny dots to a tan, pink, and cream spiral mandala. A small inset photo shows the full view of the finished mandala. A white background on the bottom of the image contains black text that reads "Paint a spiral shell mandala, step by step rock painting tutorial.

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