green tara thangka(2010): studying traditional Tibetan painting  
     
 

In the summer of 2010, I studied traditional Tibetan thangka painting with Master Lobsang (Lochoe) Choegyal at Thangde Gatsal, a small school near Dharamsala, India. An arduous & rewarding process! Hard (even after years of working as as painter) to train the hand and eye; hard to dance gracefully within & around a very well-defined tradition. But also: lovely to experience being a student again; and lovely to be a part of the improvised community comprised of Lochoe & Sarika's extended Indian-Tibetan family, apprentices, and staff.

The silk-brocade-mounted thangka painting to the right is the culmination of 2 months' effort, beginning with iconometric sketches, and moving on to the many layered stages of applying mineral pigments, plant dyes, and pure gold to the carefully prepared thangka surface.

The Green Tara is a dynamic deity, sometimes called the Mother of All Buddhas, or the enlightenment activity of the all the Buddhas. She tilts her head slightly to one side, listening for the call of those who need her help. One foot steps down from her multicolored lotus seat, signifying that she is always ready to move into compassionate action. In each hand, she holds blue lotuses, symbols of purity because they rise from the mud without being sullied by it. The stems hold full lotus flowers, buds, and seeds, referring to Buddhas of past, present, and future times. On Tara's right is an extracurricular little brown bunny: I felt she needed a companion, and who better than the magic talking Future Buddha Rabbit?

Many thanks to Sewanee: The University of the South for a Faculty Research grant which made my studies in India possible.

For more of my work related to thangka painting and Buddhist legends, click here. For a link to the Blurb bookstore and the book I have published about thangka painting methods & materials, click here.