Student Room

Since the earliest days of Buddhism until today, visual aids have played an important role in conveying the spiritual teachings to lay, and mostly uneducated , population in India. In modern-day Nepal or India it is not unusual to come across a wandering monk or ascetic who spends his time travelling from village to village with a scroll painting depicting the Wheel of Life, or else a deity under his arm. Upon arrival into any given village he quickly becomes the focus of attention for all those wanting to hear news from the surrounding countryside and distant towns. Unrolling his tangkha (literally “written record”), he both entertains and educates the crowds as he explains its meaning, at times in ordinary prose, at others in memorable verse or song. As this example illustrates, Buddhist art and Buddhist teachings have always journeyed hand in hand, where the spread of one only supports the transmission of the other.

All sacred images are known in Tibetan as ten.pa, ten meaning support and pa object. In other words, such images support the faith and spiritual experience of practising Tibetan Buddhists. For this reason, the act of creating a sacred image symbol alone is seen as meritorious. Therefore I advise my students to follow the instructions and grids as closely as possible.

Please treat all images drawings with respect, since the images contain the teachings and realisations of the enlightened ones and are important to all those who follow the path. While simple explanations are provided with the images – a deeper, perhaps more subtle, understanding can arise through the experience of meditation and receiving direct teaching from lamas. 


Tutorials



Teachings


Prajnaparamita – Andy Weber

An illustrated talk by leading Tibetan art expert, Andy Weber, on Prajnaparamita, the personification of the ‘Perfection of Wisdom’.

Andy Weber is a master of thangka painting and an accomplished sculptor with an encyclopedic knowledge of symbolism in Tibetan art and how we can use such images to enhance our experience of life and to train our mind in beneficial helpful thoughts. Highly sought after all over the world we are very fortunate that he has made time to enable students to connect with the living tradition of Tibetan art that flows through him.

8 Auspicious Symbols – Andy Weber

The world famous, highly acclaimed and highly accomplished Thangka painter and sculptor, Andy Weber, has once again very kindly been able to make space in his hectic and extensive worldwide schedule of teaching and travel.
This time Andy has chosen to share his encyclopedic knowledge of auspicious symbols in Tibetan art.  These symbols are used to represent the various aspects of good fortune and to attract positive and beneficial energy.  Bring a whole heap of good fortune into your life !

Medicine Buddha Mandala and Mantra

An illustrated talk by leading Tibetan art expert, Andy Weber, on Prajnaparamita, the personification of the ‘Perfection of Wisdom’.

Andy Weber is a master of thangka painting and an accomplished sculptor with an encyclopedic knowledge of symbolism in Tibetan art and how we can use such images to enhance our experience of life and to train our mind in beneficial helpful thoughts. Highly sought after all over the world we are very fortunate that he has made time to enable students to connect with the living tradition of Tibetan art that flows through him.

Healing Buddhas – Andy Weber

Come along and contemplate the beauty of healing energy as world famous Tibetan thangka painter, Andy Weber, introduces you to the visualised healing deities of Tibetan Buddhism and gives you a flavour of their practice.

A very rare opportunity to learn how to draw and paint the mandala of the Medicine Buddhas with an accomplished master of thangkha painting the world famous artist Andy Weber.

It is said that the Medicine Buddha mandala was not re-absorbed by the Buddha Shakyamuni at the end of his manifestation of it and his teachings around it, so beings who purify their karma and vision enough can actually experience meeting the mandala and the deities.

White Tara

White Tara is also known as the Tara of compassion and is associated with health, long life and healing. Tara is believed to protect human beings from suffering. Every subject of Thangka painting, each icon and deity or scene comes with its own recognised symbolisms and motifs. In this beautifully illustrated talk Andy Weber teaches us how to read the symbolism of White Tara




Testimonials




My History


My own introduction to the sacred world of Tibetan thangkha painting took place at the Boudhanath stupa in the Kathmandu valley of Nepal. In 1973 the surrounding village was much smaller than it is today. The stupa has become a pilgrimage site for Buddhists worldwide and has become home for numerous temples and monasteries of all the Tibetan traditions. Despite the urban sprawl and modernisation of the Kathmandu valley, the stupa itself remains a calm and commanding presence, its four pairs of eyes radiating compassionate wisdom into all directions.

For nearly six years my home was within view of the stupa’s eyes and gave me inspiration to follow my path as a student of Tibetan Buddhist art. The eyes spoke wordlessly of clarity, insight and transcendence, of a beauty far beyond this world, so near yet so far away from mundane reality.

Inspiration alone was not enough; a key was needed to unlock the meaning and the mystery of those haunting eyes. The key to deeper understanding and appreciation was found in the living traditions of which the Boudhanath stupa itself is but one monumental expression. The teachings of various Tibetan lamas provided spiritual guidance and instructions for meditation. Their impressive wealth of compassion and wisdom convinced me that what I had detected in the stupa’s eyes was within reach of ordinary beings like myself.

My artistic quest was answered by two local Tibetan artists, Lhudup and Thargey.la. Despite the time consuming difficulties like translating and answering my inquisitive questions, both masters were generous with their instructions and encouragement and guided and nurtured me into this fascinating world.  

My first teacher Lhudup was born in Amdo and escaped to Nepal via the pilgrimage route of Mt. Kailash, the sacred mountain in western Tibet. He inherited from his master, Par Gyalsten, a centuries old scroll book, containing line drawings with grid patterns (called tik.ste), which are the foundation for Tibetan Buddhist iconography. As I had no previous formal art training, this book became the basis for my entire artistic career. Unfortunately after a year of studying with him, poor health forced him to leave the Kathmandu valley and return to the high mountain areas.

While Ludhup represented the figure of solitary lone artist, Thargye like a patriarchal master ran his own studio with apprentices and numerous projects going on at the same time. He had made name by his temple and monastic wall paintings in Nepal. Thargye came from a long line of family artists, seven generations long and adopted me as his student while teaching his apprentices as well. While Lhudup initiated me into the world of Vajrayana art, it was Thargey.la who provided the detailed map. Thargye la was one of the very few artists capable of transmitting the entire range of skills needed to be a true master of this ancient tradition. As a sincere spiritual practitioner he gave me insight into the rich symbolism of Vajrayana art and his craftsmanship and expertise extended well beyond that of simply an artist. He brought the artistic tradition alive for me and I remained his faithful student until his recent passing in 2015.

In Buddhist art, creativity and artistic expression play an important role but it is objective and not based on subjective self-expression. Adhering to the discipline of the grids, traditional colours and iconography is required for each and every painting so, eventually, very little of the painting comes from the labours of the neurotic ego and its reoccupations. The feeling of creative joy and artistic freedom lies in the experience of creative activity itself. Love,  oncentration and devotion are spiritual qualities and the goal of artistic mastery cannot be reached through self-expression or technical proficiency alone. Only by opening oneself up to the spiritual inspiration can such progress be possible.