A Japanese artist paints Tibetan Thangkas in Spain.
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Colors for the shading on Thangka Painting

The beautiful shading, called "Dang" in Tibetan, is one of the special feature of Thangka painting.

While most of the color for Thangka are from minerals and they are "opaque color", the transparent dye colors are usually used for the shading.

There are several different techniques for the shading. To create the sky, mountains, flower and many other part in thangka painting most of thangka painter use "dot" shading or "line" shading.

I learnt "dot" shading from my first Thangka teacher Karma-la. Later I learnt "line" shading from Konchog-la. Since I heard from Konchog-la that we don't use dot shading in our lineage I'm using only line shading.

Create beautiful gradation with countless of thin short lines.

The progress of the work is very slow specially when we do the shading on a big area like sky. The whole work may be wasted if we are not enough careful and made too dark line at the end of the shading where the color are very light.

We don't really need great technique to make good shading as we can see this work is usually done by some deciples in Thangka studios but rarely by their master. We need patience. Sitting several hours or several days doing lines, lines and lines even if we feel like it would never finish.

If you are not used to it, it is better to think that the shading of the sky may take you about a week to complete so that you won't stress even if it take ONLY some days.



The most used color for shading is Indigo. It's called "Ram" in Tibetan.

​The second image above is synthetic indigo which is widely used in Nepal.


Lotus pond

The internet connection which came back to us alone has left us again even we have done nothing.

No way but to use my limited smart phone connection.

Fortunately I could make my Facebook page before the internet had gone. →https://www.facebook.com/TibetanThangka.KarmaGardri/


Now I'm working on a new paint which will be filled with a lot of lotus(lotuses?).

Lotus flower are often,,or almost always depicted in Thangka painting as scenery, offering or design on the deities clothing.


Midnight photo shooting
My day start at 6:00AM with some prayers and meditation everyday.

There is a thangka of Vajra kilaya I painted in 2009.

Unlike the other thangkas I painted, this one is painted on Japanese silk. The silk specially for painting. Not very soft and smooth silk like you would imagine. It's more solid material.

Its texture is much more rough compare to the usual thangka canvas. For me, who is used to paint on smoothly prepared canvas, the tip of the brush were jumping almost like riding a bicycle on unpaved bumpy road or maybe my preparation of the silk isn't good enough? The good point is that the ink or gold paint flow very easily onto the silk.


When there is base color, even the thiny lines are not too difficult.

It's been a while since I really settle down myself on a cushion just to paint. I have been working on the booklet of 21 Taras as well as some new reproductions. I couldn't find time to be sitting face to face with a canvas.

But now I should restart my life as painter. I am a painter. Time is not to find but to make.

First, let's clean up my atelier.

It's also been a while since I really cleaned this beautiful room with the view of mediterranean sea. It will be difficult to do real heavy cleaning with color pot around once I started to paint.

The working place should be kept clean to produce nice thangkas,,,,is what I was taught and my experience tell me that's absolutely true.

Move everything and clean from top to bottom, in every corner without leaving any uncleaned part.

As final step to purify the working space, burn one of my favourite Japanese incense and ready to start new painting.

Today is Guru Rinpoche's day. A good day to start.

Prayer book of 21 Taras
A new project.

To respond to the request from a friend of mine, I have started to make small book. A book of "The praises to the twenty-one Taras". To have the images of each Tara as we pray.

It's a simple book but with great care for the image and color. I wanted the color of the images accurate, close to the color of the original paint because I have chosen the color with the utmost care and attention when I was painting the Thangka of "the Twenty-one Taras".

The color is very important factor in Tibetan Buddhism.

Thangka of 21 taras: Replica
I have been working on producing the replica of thangka of 21 taras in Japan.

Starting from scanning the thangka with super high definition scanner which I could find only in Japan and correction of the color together with the printing company.
All the staffs were very helpful to get the best result despite the busy period of the year.

I've just received the sample of the print today.

We have made two sizes. The bigger one is 1165x810mm which is almost the size of the original thangka and the smaller one, 620x431mm.

I will write more detail of the process later here but I'm really happy with the result.The DTP operater who helped me did great job.
The replica would appear dull and lose the impression if the color is too dark or has not enough saturation, on the other hand the replica would be flashy and lose the depth of the color of natural pigments if the color is adjusted too light.

The other important point was the color of gold which is one of thangka's characteristics. In considering these points, we worked together to bring the color close to the original as much as possible.


The process of making reproduciotn including the color correction has done very successfully with sharp details and it was greatly thanks to the scanner I used this time. I'm going to write about it here soon.

I am making new Giclee print in Japan.
"21 Taras" and "Vajra Yogini", "Green Tara" and "Guru Dorje Drolo".

Please send me a message from here if you are interested to purchase. I will print it here and bring back to Europe or try to send from Japan if it cost you less for shipping.

There will be the original size and half size for the reproduction of 21 taras.

I'm very excited to see the Japanese technology to create reproduction.


Material for the canvas
The smooth shading which the color fade gradually and absorbed into the initial coat at the end, fine and flowing line or very delicate depiction of details.  In order to achieve these seccessfully preparing a good canvas is essential.

The canvas for thangka painting is called "Re-Shi" in Tibetan and usually 100% cotton cloth is used as support.

In Nepal where there are many thangka painters, normal fabric shop knows what we want.  I could just ask to shop "cotton cloth for thangka" and they would understand. But not here in Europe or Japan.  "100% cotton white cloth" is just a category here. There are plenty of choice in this category. Each time I pass to fabric shop I ended up buying few different cotton cloths and now I have a big collection.  So the first thing I do to prepare "Re-shi" now is choosing a cloth from my collection.

As you can see below there are big difference between each cloth.

The one I was using in Nepal is the second one from right.

"21 Taras" [in process...39]
Burnishing the gold of main deity, Green Tara.

Flower pattern on her calf which sparkle by an angle of the light.

By burnishing, Gold will give much more metalic texture and it makes beautiful contrast with very matte area painted with natural mineral pigments.

"21 Taras" [in process...38 Burnishing the gold 2]
There is only a few area remaining to burnish.

This is the eight auspicious symbols. The parasol, the golden fishes, the treasure vase, the conch shell, the endless knot, the victory banner and the wheel of Dharma.

~"Eight Auspicious Symbols" 17 Jan. 2013~

Here these eight symbols are put together as an offering and burnished with shading effect by controlling the pressure of the burnishing stone.

I could just quickly burnish it without the shading which is more commnly seen in the thangka of Karma Gardri style and that was I was thinking to do initially.

Somehow I feel that maybe I unconsciously choose more time consuming method in order to stay working on this thangka.

Anyway, the remain part to burnish gold now is only for the main Grenn Tara.