The following excerpt was written by Jonathan Abel for the Miami Herald during
the process of constructing the Buddha Painting.
By Jonathan Abel
Miami Herald, United States - In red religious robes, Buddhist teacher H.E. Khempo Yurmed Tinly Rinpoche
watches intently as the thanka, a painting of the Buddha, takes form on the floor before him.
Draped across an empty exhibition room at the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale, the 52-foot long and
30-foot wide canvas is on display, allowing visitors to watch the sacred process of creating art.
As the designer, it is Khempo's job to make sure there are no mistakes on this painting, the largest
thanka ever created in the United States.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~
The painting will hang behind the Dalai Lama -- the revered Buddhist leader who won the Nobel Peace Prize
in 1989 -- when he speaks at the University of Miami Convocation Center on Sept. 20 and 21.
Khempo designed the painting, but he doesn't deal with the paint. That job falls on master artist
Pema Tenzin, and his apprentice, Serena Bartlett.
Tenzin walks across the Buddha's gold skin with his bare feet, and stoops over to apply each coat.
Bartlett works on the Buddha's feet.
"It's all free-hand drawing," she says. "The better you get, the more perfect you get.
That's why it's important to study with a master [like Pema]."
The enormous Buddha stands tall against a blue background, right hand raised and left hand lowered,
his palms showing on both.
According to Khempo, who has studied and taught throughout Asia and the United States, the right hand
on the painting shows that Buddha protects the world, and the left hand shows his generosity.
"Standing means to go up, to journey toward peace," Khempo said, explaining that he chose the standing
position because the Dalai Lama will speak about world peace.