Tibetan Thangka Art

Guru Rinpoche: The Face of Transcendence

Four Week Class with Tiffani Gyatso


Wednesdays July 5, 12, 19 & 26

11am - 12:30pm Los Angeles
2 - 3:30pm New York

3 - 4:30pm Sao Paolo
8 - 9:30pm Rome

Check your time zone


Guru Rinpoche: The Face of Transcendence

Guru Rinpoche, also known as Padmasambhava, the lotus born, is a revered spiritual figure in Tibetan Buddhism who is believed to have brought the teachings of the Buddha from India to Tibet. He is considered a master of Vajrayana Buddhism, which emphasizes the use of meditation, visualization, and mantra to achieve spiritual awakening in a single lifetime.

Guru Rinpoche is also known for his ability to overcome obstacles and transform negative energies into purposeful actions to transcend our own suffering and benefit other sentient beings. According to legend, he was able to subdue the demons and spirits of Tibet and convert them into protectors of the Dharma. This is seen as a metaphor for the transformation of our own negative emotions and thoughts into positive qualities such as compassion, wisdom, and clarity.

Thangka paintings are traditional Tibetan artworks that typically depict Buddhist deities, mandalas, and other sacred symbols. The drawings follow certain prescribed measurements and proportions that the artist must learn and respect. The process involves many steps, from the preparation of the canvas to the sketching of the design and the application of color. It requires the cultivation of mindfulness, concentration, discipline, and devotion, as well as technical skill.

Thangka painting is a spiritual practice in which the artist seeks to connect with the wisdom and compassion of the Buddha and other enlightened beings, and to express that connection in a tangible form. Through the process, the artist seeks to cultivate a deep connection with the spiritual energy of the subject matter, allowing it to flow through them and onto the canvas. The resulting artwork is not just a technical achievement, but a representation of the artist's own spiritual journey.

In Thangka art, Guru Rinpoche is often depicted in his manifestation as the "Lotus-Born" Guru, characterized by his penetrating expression and the lotus flower that he sits upon, representing his transcendence of worldly attachments. When painting of Guru Rinpoche, the artist seeks to capture the essence of his teachings and his presence, creating an artwork that can serve as a reminder of the divine qualities that we all possess within ourselves.

In this four session online course, Tiffani Gyatso will lead us into the meaning and symbols of Guru Rinpoche's figure and the first measurements of his face, which we will draw according to the canonical rules and color it in a meditative state. 

This course is open to anyone who has a passion for the subject and is willing to learn and can hold a pencil!

Session One | July 5

Prayer, history, symbols and the structuring lines for drawing.

Session Two | July 12

Prayer, history, symbols and initiating the drawing upon grid.

Session Three | July 19

Prayer, history, symbols and finalizing drawing and introduction to coloring

Session Four | July 26

Prayer, history, symbols and finalizing coloring, outlining and last touches

Art Materials Required for this course:

  • Print out of origins drawing and grid (to be provided)

  • A4 or letter size paper, smooth surface and between 200 and 300g/m

  • 0,5 mechanical pencil

  • 1 Ruler

  • 1 soft eraser

  • 1 small compass

  • Color pencils (of any brand you prefer, at least 12 colors)

  • 1 metallic golden gel pen (optional)


Tiffani Gyatso

Tiffani Gyatso is an artist from Brazil who focused her studies on the sacred expressions of art from different cultures. She specialized in traditional Tibetan Thangka painting, which she learned in India at the Norbulingka Institute from the years 2003-2006 and later furthered her studies at the Prince School of Traditional Arts in London where she studied sacred Geometry of the Middle East. Today she runs her own art retreat center at the Atelier YabYum at the mountains of Brazil and guides art groups to India and Nepal.