Thangka Art Courses

Thangka painting takes a lifetime of training; to become a Thangka Painter takes six to ten years and a minimum of thirty years is required to be an accomplished master in the tradition. In spite of this, Thangde Gatsal Studio offers some short courses specially designed for anyone interested in Thangka Painting and developing an understanding about the iconography, methods and materials and techniques involved in the process of creation of Thangka Paintings.

The artform is highly endangered and so taking efforts to revive it is crucial.  The masters realized that it was important to design shorter courses while still respecting all the rules, sanctions and authentic traditional guidelines. The aim of these courses is to preserve and promote the traditional teachings of Thangka Painting.

Registration: Please choose from one of the following courses, fill out the Registration form and contact Sarika at thangdegatsal@hotmail.com to confirm your admission to the following courses. Please know that all courses are strictly residential and demand serious commitment, dedication and respect for the art form and tradition.

The training provided at Thangde Gatsal Studio and School is offered on a basis of donation as part of the preservation and promotional efforts undertaken by Thangde Gatsal.

The boarding and lodging is provided just in the vicinity of the studio. We request a minimum donation from students interested in any of the courses.  This donation covers the expenses related to living: all meals, laundry, internet facilities and cleaning facilities. Each student gets an independent room with hot water. All meals and tea are provided while taking this program, so students can seriously dedicate themselves without any other worries and concerns. Please contact us at thangdegatsal@hotmail.com for making the necessary reservations.

Please choose from one of the following courses:

Also see: Thangka Art Workshops

One-week Course

Sketch of Buddha's body with robes9:00am – 5:00pm
Monday – Saturday

This workshop is designed to introduce students to the Thangka art and provides a deeper look into the art form. The course includes the following:

  • Pencil sketch of the Buddha’s face
  • Pencil sketch of the Buddha’s body without robes
  • Pencil sketch of the Buddha’s body with robes
  • Pencil sketch of the landscape including mountains, clouds, rivers, flowers, trees, and offerings

Daily Schedule

  • First session 9:00am to 1:00pm
  • Lunch break from 1:00 – 2:00pm
  • Second session 2:00 – 5:00pm
  • Tea break twice during the day
  • Dinner from 8:00pm to 8:30pm
  • Theory lecture from 8:30pm to 9:30pm
  • Taxi to and from Dharamsala or McLeod Ganj (To be paid by the group/student)

Two-week Course

Learn techniques and principles of coloring9:00am – 5:00pm
Monday – Saturday

This workshop is designed to introduce students to both pencil sketching and, if they wish, application of ink. The course includes the following:

  • Week 1
    • Pencil sketch of the Buddha’s face
    • Pencil sketch of the Buddha’s body without robes
    • Pencil sketch of the Buddha’s body with robes
  • Week 2
    • May repeat Week 1 using another deity OR
    • Learn techniques and principles of application of ink

Daily Schedule

  • First session 9:00am to 1:00pm
  • Lunch break from 1:00 – 2:00pm
  • Second session 2:00 – 5:00pm
  • Tea break twice during the day
  • Dinner from 8:00 pm to 8:30pm
  • Theory lecture from 8:30pm to 9:30pm
  • Taxi to and from Dharamsala or McLeod Ganj (To be paid by the group/student)

Three-week Course

Sketching9:00am – 5:00pm
Monday – Saturday

This workshop is designed to introduce students to both pencil sketching and coloring techniques. By the end of Week 3 students will have learned to sketch at least two deities/drawings and applied ink to those drawings. The course includes the following:

  • Week 1
    • Pencil sketch of the Buddha’s face
    • Pencil sketch of the Buddha’s body without robes
    • Pencil sketch of the Buddha’s body with robes
  • Week 2
    • Pencil sketch of Green/White Tara face
    • Pencil sketch of the Green/White Tara’s body without robes
    • Pencil sketch of the Green/White Tara’s body with robes
  • Week 3
    • Students apply ink to their drawings

Daily Schedule

  • First session 9:00am to 1:00pm
  • Lunch break from 1:00 – 2:00pm
  • Second session 2:00 – 5:00pm
  • Tea break twice during the day
  • Dinner from 8:00pm to 8:30pm
  • Theory lecture from 8:30pm to 9:30pm
  • Taxi to and from Dharamsala or McLeod Ganj (To be paid by the group/student)

Four-week Course

4-Week Thangka Painting Course9:00am – 5:00pm
Monday – Saturday

This workshop is designed to introduce students to both pencil sketching and inking techniques. By the end of Week 4 students will have created about three final drawings and have mastered the technique of applying ink to these drawings. The course includes the following:

  • Week 1
    • Pencil sketch of the Buddha’s face
    • Pencil sketch of the Buddha’s body without robes
    • Pencil sketch of the Buddha’s body with robes
  • Week 2
    • Pencil sketch of Green Tara face
    • Pencil sketch of the Green/White Tara’s body without robes
    • Pencil sketch of the Green/White Tara’s body with robes
  • Week 3
    • Pencil sketch of White Tara face
    • Pencil sketch of the White Tara’s body without robes
    • Pencil sketch of the White Tara’s body with robes
  • Week 4
    • Students learn the technique of applying ink on the drawings.

Daily Schedule

  • First session 9:00am to 1:00pm
  • Lunch break from 1:00 – 2:00pm
  • Second session 2:00 – 5:00pm
  • Tea break twice during the day
  • Dinner from 8:00pm to 8:30pm
  • Theory lecture from 8:30pm to 9:30pm
  • Taxi to and from Dharamsala or McLeod Ganj (To be paid by the group/student)

Six-week Intensive Course

Green Tara with clothes9:00am – 5:00pm
Monday – Saturday
Monday-Friday: Art instruction
Saturdays: Theory and scripture study

This six-week course in Thangka painting is an intensive, condensed course that allows students the opportunity to engage with the skills and methods of traditional Thangka painting.

Students begin their training by learning to sketch the face of the Buddha and then the body, first without and then with the robes. This is followed by practicing the Medicine Buddha in the second week and Taras in the third and the fourth week. The students are then introduced to some important elements in the landscape like clouds, waterfalls, leaves, flowers, mountains, mythical creatures and animals in the Tibetan style. The ink is then applied to these drawings after intense practice of the technique of applying ink.

The course includes the following:

  • Week 1
    • Pencil sketch of the Buddha’s face
    • Pencil sketch of the Buddha’s body without robes
    • Pencil sketch of the Buddha’s body with robes
  • Week 2
    • Pencil sketch of the Medicine Buddha
    • Pencil sketch of the Buddha’s body with robes
    • Pencil sketch of the Buddha’s body with robes
  • Week 3
    • Pencil sketch of Green Tara face
    • Pencil sketch of the Green/White Tara’s body without robes
    • Pencil sketch of the Green/White Tara’s body with robes
  • Week 4
    • Pencil sketch of White Tara face
    • Pencil sketch of the White Tara’s body without robes
    • Pencil sketch of the White Tara’s body with robes
  • Week 5-6
    • Some landscapes elements- clouds, waterfalls, flowers, trees etc.
    • Students learn the technique of applying ink on the drawings.

Daily Schedule

  • Monday through Friday
    • First session 9:00am to 1:00pm
    • Lunch break from 1:00 – 2:00pm
    • Second session 2:00 – 5:00pm
    • Tea break twice during the day
    • Dinner 8:00pm to 8:30pm
    • Theory Lecture from 8:30 to 9:30 pm
    • Students must bring their own computers for reference images and individual work
    • Taxi to and from Dharamsala or McLeod Ganj (To be paid by the group/student)
  • Saturday
    • Self Study
    • Lunch break from 1:00 – 2:00pm
    • Study
    • Tea break twice during the day
    • Dinner 8:00pm to 8:30pm
    • Students must bring their own computers for self-study
    • Taxi to and from Dharamsala or McLeod Ganj (To be paid by the group/student)

Twelve-week/Semester Intensive Course

9:00am – 5:00pm
Monday – Saturday
Monday-Friday: Art instruction
Saturdays: Theory and scripture study

This twelve-week course in Thangka painting is the most recommended program for students and other people who are interested. The duration of this intensive, condensed program is designed to suit the academic needs of students on semester and quarter-based schedules. For others it provides the opportunity to have a hands-on experience on the very many techniques, methods, and materials involved in the process of creating a Thangka Painting.

  • Instruction in Thangka drawing, focused on the study of traditional proportions, forms, and iconography.
  • Instruction in Thangka painting, including preparation of a painting canvas, use of traditional mineral pigments, and shading and rendering techniques.
  • Independent study in the history of Thangka painting using Thangde Gatsal’s libraries as well as local and online resources. Students may choose topics related to the iconography and history of Buddhas or other figures they depict in their drawings.
  • At the end of their study abroad program, students will have completed a portfolio with drawings, a complete traditional Thangka painting, and an academic research paper in Thangka art history.

The course includes the following:

  • Week 1
    • Pencil sketch of the Buddha’s face
    • Pencil sketch of the Buddha’s body without robes
    • Pencil sketch of the Buddha’s body with robes
  • Week 2-3
    • Pencil sketch of the Medicine Buddha, Manjushree and Avalokiteshvara Chenrezig
    • Pencil sketch of these without robes
    • Pencil sketch of these with robes
  • Week 4-5
    • Pencil sketch of Green Tara face
    • Pencil sketch of the Green Tara’s body without robes
    • Pencil sketch of the Green Tara’s body with robes
  • Week 6-7
    • Pencil sketch of White Tara face
    • Pencil sketch of the White Tara’s body without robes
    • Pencil sketch of the White Tara’s body with robes
  • Week 8-9
    • Flowers
    • Trees
    • Mountains, waterfall
    • Mythical creatures and Animals
    • Symbolism
  • Week 10-11
    • Inking the drawings
  • Week 12
    • Submit the Research Paper

Daily Schedule

  • Monday through Friday
    • First session 9:00am to 1:00pm
    • Lunch break from 1:00 – 2:00pm
    • Second session 2:00 – 5:00pm
    • Tea break twice during the day
    • Dinner 8:00pm to 8:30pm
    • Theory Lecture from 8:30 to 9:30 pm
    • Students must bring their own computers for self-study
    • Taxi to and from Dharamsala or McLeod Ganj (To be paid by the group/student)
  • Saturday
    • Self Study
    • Lunch break from 1:00 – 2:00pm
    • Study
    • Tea break twice during the day
    • Dinner 8:00pm to 8:30pm
    • Students must bring their own computers for self-study
    • Taxi to and from Dharamsala or McLeod Ganj (To be paid by the group/student)

Six-Month Course

9:00am – 5:00pm
Monday – Saturday
Monday-Friday: Art instruction
Saturdays: Theory and scripture study

This six-month course in Thangka painting is an intensive program for students who have a deep interest in Thangka painting, but who may not be able to commit to a year or the life long instruction of the art. As well as hands on instruction in art making aspects, such as drawing and painting, students also study Buddhist scriptures and theory. This enriches their understanding and training in this traditional art form.

Students will also complete an individual research paper on Thangka painting in during their training. For research and study purposes, students must bring their own laptop computer.

The course includes the following:

  • Month 1
    • Pencil sketch of the Buddha’s face
    • Pencil sketch of the Buddha’s body without robes
    • Pencil sketch of the Buddha’s body with robes
    • Pencil sketch of the Medicine Buddha, Manjushree and Avalokiteshvara Chenrezig
    • Pencil sketch of these without robes
    • Pencil sketch of these with robes
  • Month 2
    • Pencil sketch of Green Tara face
    • Pencil sketch of the Green Tara’s body without robes
    • Pencil sketch of the Green Tara’s body with robes
    • Pencil sketch of White Tara face
    • Pencil sketch of the White Tara’s body without robes
    • Pencil sketch of the White Tara’s body with robes
  • Month 3
    • Pencil Sketch of Red Tara (Semi- Wrathful)
    • Pencil Sketch of Mahakala Face front and side ways
    • Pencil Sketch of Mahakala Body
    • Pencil Sketch of Kalachakra Deity with Female Consort
  • Month 4
    • Flowers
    • Trees
    • Mountains, waterfall
    • Mythical creatures and Animals
    • Symbolism
  • Month 5
    • Inking the drawings
  • Month 6
    • Wet Shading, Dry Shading, Granular Shading
    • Submit the research paper on thangka painting.

Daily Schedule

  • Monday through Friday
    • First session 9:00am to 1:00pm
    • Lunch break from 1:00 – 2:00pm
    • Second session 2:00 – 5:00pm
    • Tea break twice during the day
    • Dinner 8:00pm to 8:30pm
    • Theory Lecture from 8:30 to 9:30 pm
    • Taxi to and from Dharamsala or McLeod Ganj (To be paid by the group/student)
  • Saturday
    • Self Study
    • Lunch break from 1:00 – 2:00pm
    • Study
    • Tea break twice during the day
    • Dinner 8:00pm to 8:30pm
    • Taxi to and from Dharamsala or McLeod Ganj (To be paid by the group/student)

One-Year Teacher Training Course

9:00am – 5:00pm
Monday – Saturday
Monday-Friday: Art instruction
Saturdays: Theory and scripture study

This is a special training Course that enables a student to start giving workshops, slide shows and lectures in the field of Thangka Painting. Students interested in the yearlong program are expected to dedicate themselves to the intense training process. During their training students will become proficient in all the techniques and principles included in the artform, which includes study of Buddhist scriptures and Thangka art theory, as well as, learning how to draw and paint. Instruction will require minimum of seven to ten hours daily.  Students will also conduct self-study on Saturday to learn the art history and theory associated with Thangka painting. Once a month, students must make presentations surmising their current month of training, as well as, relating their training to their study of art history. In addition, students learn to conduct workshops, lectures, and to teach the art of Thangka painting to others.

Thangka painting as a traditional artform is now so highly endangered efforts must be made to preserve and spread the artform as much possible. Therefore, these students are expected to take the responsibility to preserving the artform seriously. Spreading awareness about the artform is important to carrying the Thangka legacy forward. Therefore, instruction and the ability to teach the art to others is important to preserving and reviving Thangka painting for the future.

When completing their final months of study, students may choose a Buddhist subject of their choice for their final Thangka painting. They will receive instruction on how to transfer their drawing onto a canvas, which they will stretch and prepare themselves. They then begin to explore the many techniques employed by Thangka artists in application of mineral pigments. The course will conclude with lessons focusing on working with pure gold pigments, and the students will apply the finishing touches to their work. This program is a window into the world of classic Thangka painting and offers an unmatched opportunity for serious students to develop their artistic eye in a peaceful and constructive environment.

The course includes the following:

  • Month 1
    • Pencil sketch of the Buddha’s face
    • Pencil sketch of the Buddha’s body without robes
    • Pencil sketch of the Buddha’s body with robes
    • Pencil sketch of the Medicine Buddha, Manjushree and Avalokiteshvara Chenrezig
    • Pencil sketch of these without robes
    • Pencil sketch of these with robes
  • Month 2
    • Pencil sketch of Green Tara face
    • Pencil sketch of the Green Tara’s body without robes
    • Pencil sketch of the Green Tara’s body with robes
    • Pencil sketch of White Tara face
    • Pencil sketch of the White Tara’s body without robes
    • Pencil sketch of the White Tara’s body with robes
  • Month 3
    • Pencil Sketch of Red Tara (Semi- Wrathful)
    • Pencil Sketch of Mahakala Face front and side ways
    • Pencil Sketch of Mahakala Body
    • Pencil Sketch of Kalachakra Deity with Female Consort
  • Month 4 and 5
    • Pencil Sketch of Yidams
    • Pencil Sketch of protectors and Guardians
    • Or any other imagery of your choice
  • Month 6
    • Flowers
    • Trees
    • Mountains, waterfall
    • Mythical creatures and Animals
    • Symbolism
  • Month 7
    • Inking the drawings
  • Month 8- 11
    • Preparation of Canvas
    • Lines of Orientation
    • Transfer of drawing of your choice
    • Inking the entire drawing
    • Application of colors
    • Wet Shading, Dry Shading, Granular Shading
    • Outlining
    • Face and Opening of Eyes
    • Gold details
    • Other finishing details
    • Mounting
    • Consecration
  • Month 12
    • Submit the research paper on thangka painting

Daily Schedule

  • First session 9:00am to 1:00pm
  • One hour lecture from 9:00 – 10:00am
  • Drawing Session from 10:00 am – 1:00pm
  • Lunch break from 1:00 – 2:00pm
  • Second session 2:00 – 5:00pm
  • Tea break twice during the day
  • Dinner 8:00pm to 8:30pm
  • Theory lecture from 8:30pm to 9:30pm
  • Students must bring their own computers for reference images and research study
  • Taxi to and from Dharamsala or McLeod Ganj (To be paid by the group/student)

Also see: Thangka Art Workshops