Thursday, April 22, 2010

8 Basic Methods Of Painting a Thangka

                                                                   PAINTING METHOD

Painting Canavas
First of all thanka is painted on cotton canavas. Canavas are generally made in the dry months of March, April, October and November. This cloth is tightly sewn on bamboo and a glue is spread to make it dry. The artist coats this canavas until every part is dried. This process is repeated 8-10 times. After the canavas has been dried the artist then moistens it with a small cloth on a certain area. Then he slowly rubs the canavas with a small marble for an hour and takes it outside where sun can directly be in contact. The same procedure is done on the other side of the canavas and dried. After the canavas is ready it should be tightly stretched and tied with strings. Lastly the canavas is polished with conch shell on one side where the painting is done.
Foundation Line Drawing

The artist needs full concentration while drawing foundation line. So, they generally take meditation, bath or perform rituals before starting to draw the lines. When they start to draw the lines they have visualization of the deities which they are about to paint. These line are drawn by pencils of Tibetan style. It takes them about 10 to 30 days to sketch the base line.


 Preparing paint

The next step is to prepare the colors for painting. According to the tradition of Tibet the material should include the variety of vegetable and mineral substances like flowers, silver, gold, copper, bark, precious stones, leaves, etc. These all materials should be collected and properly powdered, ground, cooked or crushed. Though today’s artist uses colors available in markets but to conserve the genuine custom of Tibet we utilize the natural materials. The paint reveals its true color only after it is dried.

After preparing the colors the artist paints the thanka in a specific sequence i.e. from top to bottom. The artist first paints the whole sky which takes them from 4 to 5 days. Then they use different types of brushes to generate a stipple effects of lines and the sky is ready. The next is to pain the lands and dark green areas.

Redraw and shading
When they uses the paint in sky and landscapes some of the lines of clouds and flowers have been covered by the colors so they have to redraw the covered areas with black ink and shade them with a fine brush. It takes them about 1 week to paint flowers since they needs the effect of inherit radiance.



The details of the thanka plays very important role which determines its quality. The artist has to paint every small size very carefully and with full concentration. If the detail of the thanka is best then the value of thanka will automatically increase


Giving shape and final shading
The artist then gives shapes to the body and figures of the deities. All the background details like deer, fish, birds, etc are given final shade in this process.

Gold application

Gold is powdered for painting in thanka. The artist buys about 50 grams of gold and makes it into sheets by heating. Then the sheets are cut in tiny pieces and are grinded until it becomes dust particles. Glue is added in the mixture and the same process is done for seven days. So with this the artist paints the details with gold and at last all the gold areas are polished to make it more shiny and beautiful.