The Making of a Thangka Painting
Traditionally the knowledge of thangka painting is passed down through family lineage. In order to be a master thangka painter, the artist must show mastery in all preparations of the thangka, from the preparation of the canvas and the making of the pigments, to the amount of glue and width of the line. For example, it takes three days to properly sand the canvas down to prepare the canvas for paint. It is important that all aspects of the thangka are in balance with each other.
The skill of the artist can be seen in the way that he creates the landscape (the waterways, the details of the flowers, a cave). More importantly, when the viewer looks at the image of the main character, it should feel alive. It is impossible to actually copy the master way of a thangka because of the energy behind the images.
Samten Dakpa is the finest master Tibetan sacred icon painter I have ever met, who has painted some of the of the most magnificent thangka icons I have ever seen! A child prodigy, from a young age he created architectural works, scroll icons and decorative motifs for senior lamas in Tibet, India and the West. I hold him in the highest respect for his technical expertise and creative vision.
-Robert Thurman, Padma Shri Professor Emeritus
Samten’s work displays the highest level of design and painting mastery. More importantly, he captures the essence of whatever deity or subject he paints. I would place Samten Dakpa at the center of a type of renaissance of painting in Tibet. His works are authentic, masterful and true. We will collect them as they revitalize every aspect of our lives and keep us whole.
-Andrea and Richard Tomasetti
Born into a nomadic family in Eastern Tibet, Samten did not have formal training. Around the age of seven he was a shepherd and would draw images of animals in the snow and dirt and eventually started charcoal paintings on the rocks. By the age of fourteen, he began seeing images of deities at night and by the age of fifteen he was the main artist for the new monastery in Kham region of Eastern Tibet. After the monastery was completed, he journeyed to Amdo in Northern Tibet to broaden his knowledge of art. At the age of nineteen, Samten migrated to India and established himself in the Tibetan community in Bangalore. From there he began work on temples in Tibetan settlements in southern India and teach thangka painting to the students.
Samten’s first show was in Dublin, Ireland, in 2000. He moved to the United States in 2004 and has shown his work in California, Florida, New Mexico and New York. Samten’s skills include working with wood, stone and Tibetan architecture. He lives in New York City with his family and appreciates the work of all artists as he enjoys how other artists bring out the energy and colors in landscape paintings.