I had such a wonderful weekend! I somewhat randomly came upon the website for the Land of Compassion Buddha in West Covina, a Tibetan Buddhist temple. Checking out their events calendar, I saw a weekend workshop for Tibetan sacred art – Thangka painting.
The workshop was let by Yeshi Dorje, a buddhist monk, who was born in Bhutan to Tibetan parents. He was truly a delight to learn from. Yeshi gave a talk each morning about meditation and the dharma, and wove the themes of painting into the themes of practice. It was clear and straight-forward teaching which really struck me. It was a refreshing break from the somewhat grim Theravada drill down – and so kind of hit me from a different angle. (It reminds me I need to go back to Deer Park, for a little more poetry in my dharma pursuits).
He was kind and generous in the way he taught. And a funny guy.
In the afternoons, we learned to paint the face of the Buddha according to the traditional methods of Tibetan art. The features are carefully measured and almost gridded out in a precise fashion. You can see examples of this on Yeshi’s site. I have NEVER used a ruler to begin a painting… but I have to say i really enjoyed it. It was very much a meditative practice, because my planning, thinking mind was quite silent. I just had to follow the steps to achieve a round, lovely buddha face. I suppose if I had worries about whether I could paint or not it might have been more stressful. But as it was, I had decided to just follow the instructions and enjoy. I am sure this method will find its way into my work – not quite sure how yet. I would love to find more instruction in Thangka painting… if I could do this on a weekly basis I would. I want to paint the whole buddha body!
The other students, all of whom practiced at the temple, were as expected quite nice… and also very fun and funny. It was simply quite delightful to be there.
So I have become really excited to learn more about sacred art from other traditions and cultures. It is so lovely to receive the traditional way of doing something from another artist – its such a lovely intimate thing. It made me feel close to all artists – to know the joy and sacredness of making these things with our hands and hearts.