Drawing the Awakened Heart

Improve your meditation with thangka drawing, one of the courses offered by Nitartha’s Department of Science of Creativity and the Arts. This is a powerful tool for developing our visualization and creation stage practices. After taking this course, many students have found it easier to generate their visualizations and with greater clarity. Studio classes are also a natural environment for practicing shamatha meditation. One’s mind relaxes and simply focuses on drawing, which can be a very calming experience.

Nitartha teaches thangka drawing based on the Karma Gadri Lineage. One of the four major schools of Tibetan thangka painting, we begin by learning the basics of how to draw a tikse, which is an iconometric graph that creates the support for drawing the deity. Each deity has its own specific measurements, so drawing the tikse is an essential skill in thangka drawing and painting.

Students usually begin their journey of drawing thangkas and developing their painting skills by beginning with a buddha head. They then progress to drawing a seated buddha, then a Buddha with simple robes, followed by a Buddha with ornate robes. Students can also practice drawing using a female or male bodhisattva, such as Green Tara or Manjushri.

After studying for a period of time, students can learn to create their own thangkas. This involves stretching canvas, making a tikse for the main figure, drawing out the main figure and possibly secondary figures, as well as composing the landscape and offerings.

In 2017, Julia Linderova apprenticed with RD Salga, a renowned master of the Karma Gadri tradition of thangka painting. Julia continues to study with him while also attending Tsering Art School in Kathmandu.

Julia’s artistry and insights skillfully layered the theory and practice of Thangka Drawing in digestible slices. For me, it was a fun highlight of a wonderful summer program.  –-Michelle Thompson

I very much appreciated your Thangka class last summer. It exposed me to the exactness and symmetry of Buddha paintings. I was amazed at the challenge of getting the look of the eyes just right. There was much humor and, of course, frustration as well, and yet ultimately, marveling at the precision of the pencil marks on paper ruled each day. The explanations and examples were very helpful. It was a wonderful learning experience, and I would do it again.   –-Edith

I’ve done several online thangka drawing classes with Julia over the years, and they were wonderful. Julia is an excellent teacher—skillful and spacious, and also a fine thangka artist. The course provides a solid foundation in traditional methods, in a way that is relaxed enough to also encourage exploration and playfulness. I came away from each course feeling inspired (and able) to continue working on my own between courses, with occasional input from Julia when I had questions. She’s been tremendously helpful and supportive. Engaging with these drawings has become a great source of delight for me.

I highly recommend this course to anyone who is interested in exploring sacred Buddhist images  — Jaki

Instructor Julia Linderova will be teaching thangka painting at the 2024 Summer Institute in July, held at Lewis & Clark College.