May – Large Painting for the Dalai Lama

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Creating the large painting of the 8 Auspicious Symbols for the Dalai Lama

by Carmen Mensink

Dalai Lama’s visit to The Netherlands, May 11, 2014

In the Tibetan tradition, when a highly respected Buddhist lama pays a visit to a different monastery, he is welcomed by a painting of the Eight Auspicious Symbols in front of the entrance.

For the Dalai Lama’s visit to The Netherlands in 2014 Carmen was asked to design, paint and coordinate this ritual project, as she did 5 years before for his previous visit. She is very grateful for these wonderful opportunities.

drawing-dalai-lama-preparations-carmen       tibetan-buddhist-monk-red-color

The making of

Here are some pictures of the making of this 9 meter (30 ft) long painting.

Early April, a month before the Dalai Lama’s arrival, Carmen designs the complete artwork.

After that, together with her main assistant Romeo, she starts working on all preparations needed for a big project like this, such as finding the right material to paint on, preparing this canvas with several base layers and drawing the complete design on it.

Next the testing begins. They make examples and try out different types of paints and brushes. Carmen especially puts effort in finding and mixing the right color red (a beautiful monk-robe-maroon) and gold (a shiny gold with a warm tone).

carmen-making-design-auspicious-symbols       looking-for-perfect-red-colour

The day before the event
After all the preparations are done and the time is running out, Carmen asks ten of her thangka students to help paint the artwork on the day before the big event.

preparations-ahoy-rotterdam-dalai-lama       coffee-corner-dalai-lama

instructions-painting-dalai-lama       painting-team-dalai-lama-2014
Early morning of May 10th, the group comes together at the work area that is prepared in Ahoy Rotterdam (the event hall where the Dalai Lama’s teachings will take place). After a coffee from our own-made coffee corner (very important), Carmen’s instructions and dividing of the tasks everybody’s ready to go!

instructions-carmen-mensink-painting-dalai-lama       color-mixing-dalai-lama-painting

The start
Also the white parts are painted.
The umbrella, or Parasol, stands for protection.
Victory Banner
Looks a bit like the Umbrella, but is thinner and longer.
Dharma Wheel
The Golden Wheel of Dharma (teachings of the Buddha) is being turned.
Eternal Knot
Also called the Endless Knot. It has no beginning and no end.
Pair of Fishes
A female and male fish entwined.

welcome-text-dalai-lama-2014-carmen-mensink       painting-dharma-wheel

lotus-flower-enlightenment-symbol       dalai-lama-30ft-painting-symbols
Welcome text
The welcome text is painted in royal blue on gold, and in the corners beautiful Tibetan decorations are applied.

After all the symbols are painted and outlined the rest of the red paint is applied. Here you see the Treasure Vase and the Lotus Flower really coming out now, as well as the White Conch Shell and the Golden Wheel or Dharma Wheel.

Finishing touch
Early evening and the painting is almost finished now, but it still takes time to put on the finishing touches.

painting-group-dalai-lama     carmen-group-dalai-lama-painting
Completion of the painting
After a full day of painting with 11 people, at 9pm the large painting of the 8 Auspicious Buddhist Symbols is completed! Everybody’s tired but very satisfied.

dalai-lama-nederland-2014ahoy-rotterdam-dalai-lama-rain dalai-lama-painting-outside-hall
The next day
The following morning -the day of the big event- starts out with lots of rain, thunder and storm…
At 6.30am Carmen and her assistant have a hard time placing the artwork, as it constantly wants to fly away because of the storm. Fortunately, this time she chose to paint it not directly on the pavement (as she did for the previous painting) but on a background with special paints that can survive this weather. The painting is placed right in front of the main entrance and the first visitors are early there.

tibetans-waiting-for-dalai-lama       his-holiness-dalai-lama
Tibetan community
The Dalai Lama is greeted by the Tibetan community in The Netherlands.
The painting welcomes the Dalai Lama as well as the thousands of visitors that pass it when they enter the building.

dalai-lama-monks-namgyal      dalai-lama-on-stage

dalai-lama-teaching-ahoy-rotterdam       teaching-dalai-lama-netherlands
More than 11,000 people come for the teachings of the Dalai Lama that day.
When he appears on stage he is welcomed by a long applause, after which he starts his prayers and inspiring teachings, accompanied with jokes and laughter in between.

stand-tibetan-thangka-painting-booth       booth-carmen-mensink-dalai-lama-event
During the day there are of booths with all sorts of items related to Buddhism and Tibet.
Carmen sells her traditionally brocaded framed thangkas, buddha cards, bookmarks, posters and prints of her work as well as the Buddhist jewelry she brings from her travels. She also gives information on Thangka painting.

THANK YOU for such an amazing day – you are such a special being!

Other use of this artwork:

After H.H. Dalai Lama’s visit Carmen’s painting is used several times for other purposes, such as:

To welcome Lama Zopa Rinpoche to Maitreya Institute in The Netherlands…Read More


Exhibition at the National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden, The Netherlands (2015)


The big painting for the Dalai Lama’s previous visit

For the visit of the Dalai Lama to The Netherlands in 2009, Carmen Mensink was first time asked to welcome this high lama with a big painting of the Eight Auspicious Symbols Read More

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