A group of Tibetan Buddhist monks are invited by The Hampton Arts Commission/American Theater to town every August to create a sand Mandala. They start on a monday or tuesday, and complete it usually on the following saturday morning. On saturday around noon, to illustrate the Buddhist principle of impermanence of everything, the mandala is then ritually deconstructed, the sand gathered into a container, taken with fanfare in procession to the river where prayers are offered for peace and prosperity as the sand is released into the water. It usually attracts a good crowd, and there are always many children. The Monks also set up a table for a 'community mandala' where visitors use the traditional instrument chakpu and participate in creating a mandala too as the monks continue to work on their intricate creation. Its a wonderful week filled with cultural and spiritual programs -lectures, ritual dances and entertainment etc. And I have hundreds of photographs taken over the years documenting their visits. Since most of the monks are from my home state Karnataka in India, I do visit them often during the week and host a dinner one evening along with two my of my friends. Its a treat as well as a meditation to watch them patiently and diligently 'paint' delicate, elaborately detailed, colorful mandala. What serenity and discipline the monks exude as they construct the symbol rich mandala.
Over the years, I have been inspired to paint various scenes of mandala creation. This past week I completed painting the children watching the monks pour the sand into the water. I used a bunch of photographs to sketch this scene. The only thing I really worried about when sketching and composing the scene two months ago was to get the proportions right. Little did I realize that the scene was full of various textures to tackle! It turned out to be a meditative process for me as I figured out slowly over the past two months to use watercolors to paint hair (three kinds!), cloth, wood, siding, glass, shoe, reflection etc. If I had been aware of the difficulties I would be facing as I sketched and planned the composition, I would have never tried to paint it! I am grateful that I persevered and completed "Best Seats" (20x15")