Traditional Nepalese painting technique finds new life in Colorado – Buddhistdoor Global
Chelsea Beach, a resident of Colorado Springs, Colorado, has started classes to help residents use Buddhist art for healing, appreciation, and religious practice. Beach studied traditional painting techniques known as paubha with master artist Lok Chitraker in Nepal before returning to the United States to teach. Today, Beach runs the Himalayan Art School, which holds classes, lectures and offers an online art gallery with paintings created by her students.
The religious painting technique taught by Beach originated from the Newar people of Nepal. Paubha the paintings draw from a library of symbols and colors, allowing an informed viewer to read their messages the same way we read text. While traditionally the creation and appreciation of such images held rich religious significance, today many people create and display the paintings for their aesthetic value.
In the traditional context, paubha the paintings can guide a practitioner through meditation, as their various symbols connect to Buddhist ideals and states of mind. The paintings feature bodhisattvas, each with a particular role in Buddhist teaching.
“There are certain times in painting where it’s just dots, and you build and build,” Beach said. “You have plenty of time to become familiar with your patterns and habits. It gives moments where you can start looking at yourself in your patterns, rather than being stuck and blind in the forest. (The Gazette)
The paintings are also treated as sacred or even as holy beings themselves. Practitioners can place offerings in the form of food, flowers, and water in front of a painting. As a painting is completed, mantras will be chanted and incense offered to fully bring the bodhisattva into the painting. A final touch is always to paint the eyes, which brings the painting and the bodhisattva to life.
“Let’s say someone has a lot of post-traumatic stress disorder,” Beach said. “The monk would tell that person to practice the visualization of Green Tara because she is the mother of all Buddhas. You are unlocking this universal, motherly realm so that your neural pathway of compassion is open. It is about channeling the energy of any divine being. (The Gazette)
Rick Meinig, a surgeon in Colorado Springs and a student of Beach since 2018, first painted a medicine Buddha with her and is now working on a painting of Vajrapani. “It’s good in the sense that you know the subject matter and the style, and then you bring your own interests, tastes and abilities to it,” Meinig said. “It’s a relaxing form of meditation. It’s very much like Bob Ross, that kind of feeling. I’m not an artist, but it’s always new and experimental. (The Gazette)
Beach grew up in Colorado and traveled to India and Nepal when she was 19. She returned to the United States to complete her studies at the University of Colorado-Boulder, then returned to Nepal in search of a master artist to study with. It was there that she met Lok Chitraker and became his apprentice. He taught her and later invited her to teach in Nepal before encouraging her to return to the United States to teach Americans.
“He’s taught many times in the US and talked about how much people really need this kind of meditation and healing experience,” Beach explained. “He believes that divine images want to spread.” (The Gazette)
She opened the Himalayan School of Art in 2018 and now has more than a dozen students between there and the Manitou Art Center in Manitou Springs, just west of Colorado Springs. In addition to her work as a painter, Beach is studying for a master’s degree in social work so she can offer art therapy to those who would benefit from it.
Colorado Springs woman paints, teaches Buddhist art (The Gazette)
Chelsea beach, founder of the Himalayan art school, gives a lecture on the symbolism of mandalas (Facebook)
Himalayan School of Art
Lok Chitraker (Mahakala)
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