Process behind creating a Thangka


In the traditional creation of a Thangka there are three phases, drawing, painting/ shading and outlining and Gold. A thangka artist always will start with the drawing phase in the commission of a Thangka, depending on the level of the artist, the artist may start drawing with a set of grids that has been handed down to them from their Thangka master. Its important to know that a Thangka artist always draws Deities such as Buddha Shakyamuni or Green Tara to a set of measurements, known as units or (sor in Tibetan) because all various deities, whether they are peaceful, wrathful, semi-wrathful, have a set proportions to be drawn to. Gradually as the artists drawing skills improve the will be able to draw straight onto a canvas, having had so much drawing training that they would have memorized the basic line structures of a deities body.





After having drawn the deities onto the canvas, and the various landscapes, the artist will then start painting the Thangka. Painting is usually broken down into two stages, that being painting and shading. Depending on the methods the artist has adopted its normal for a Thangka painter to paint using a simple process: (two base coats of paint followed by shading). With in the two base coast the artist could also adapt methods of wetshading if they where painting landscape objects such as clouds where they needed to blended two apposing colours into each other. This stage is then followed by dry or semi-dry shading on top of the base coat to give a sem-less blend from one colour into the other. The painter can also use shading methods to ad the illusion of depth and movement with in there work.





4817213The final phase of the Thangka process is outlining and gold. Outlining is more commonly used to pull objects out of the painting and give the Thangka a sense of depth. As many aspects of Thangka painting are very detailed, outlining is used to highlight all the details within a work. Gold is the very last part of a Thangka to be applied. The Gold is a 22crt gold paint more commonly known as Anna, which can only be purchased from certain places in Kathmandu, Nepal. Using this kind of paint and having been taught methods in how to use it the artist can then burnish the gold to make it shine on the canvas.


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