Carmen creates a large painting for the Dalai Lama 2018

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All 2018 Thangka Art Blogs:  Have a Buddhaful New Year | Bintan Island thangka course | The colors of Kyoto | Sacred Calligraphy in Japan | Staying in a Buddhist temple in Japan | Special workshop in Kyoto | Painting for the Dalai Lama | Creating a Tibetan Mandala at Museum Night

Painting for the Dalai Lama 2018

Carmen creating the red carpet with Eight Auspicious Symbols

For the previous visits of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to The Netherlands in 2009 and 2014, thangka painter Carmen Mensink was asked to create large paintings of the 8 Auspicious Symbols to welcome this special master in her country -according to the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.
For his recent visit to Amsterdam and Rotterdam in 2018 she was asked for this again – a huge honour.

Here you can read all about the making of this artwork, the events with the Dalai Lama where this was used, the exhibition of Buddha’s Life that the Dalai Lama opened, and future events coming up (that you can participate in as well!).

The making of:

drawing-dalai-lama-preparations-carmen looking-for-perfect-red-colour  
Carmen started this large project in 2014 when she was asked for this by the organization of the Dalai Lama’s visit in The Netherlands that year.
A very big honour that she happily took on!
It took weeks of preparation, searching for the right kind of canvas, the right paints that would endure rains and storms, the right colors and all the other materials. After this, Carmen and her assistant Roméo drew all the symbols and texts on this 9 meter (30 ft) large painting.

color-mixing-dalai-lama-painting painting-team-dalai-lama-2014 lotus-flower-enlightenment-symbol
The day before HH the Dalai Lama’s visit in 2014, ten of Carmen’s thangka art students helped her to paint this large red carpet.
Though it was a very long day -we worked almost non-stop from 10am to 9pm- it was a very joyful day!
During the night the paints had time to dry, and in the early next morning Carmen and her assistant Roméo placed the large painting right in front of the entrance of Ahoy, Rotterdam, where HH. the Dalai Lama would offer teachings all weekend.

During the following years, 2015-2017, the artwork was featured several times, such as to welcome Lama Zopa Rinpoche to the new Buddhist Retreat Center in Loenen (Veluwe), as well as during exhibitions at the National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden (Museum voor Volkenkunde), and spiritual center De Roos in Amsterdam.

For the Dalai Lama’s subsequent visit to the Netherlands in 2018, the organization asked Carmen to use this painting again for this major event. It took her a full week to restore, repaint and adjust the artwork.

The red carpet painting was first used in De Nieuwe Kerk (The New Church) on the Dam Square in Amsterdam, where HH the Dalai Lama would open a special exhibition on the life of Buddha and attend a symposium, before he would offer teachings in the subsequent days.

Left: Carmen makes the preparations in De Nieuwe Kerk a few days prior to the Dalai Lama’s visit

Right: On the day itself, the hundreds of people in the church that are attending the symposium are waiting in excitement for HH. the Dalai Lama to enter through this door, where he will be greeted in the traditional Tibetan Buddhist way by The 8 Auspicious Symbols.
Photos: Romeo Raspan / Carmen Mensink

Left: Carmen hanging the painted welcome text under which HH. the Dalai Lama will be interviewed by the Dutch press and where pictures with officials will be taken
Right: Carmen with her assistent Roméo under the welcome text
Photos: Romeo Raspan / Carmen Mensink

HH the Dalai Lama walks over the 8 Auspicious Symbols while greeting different visitors.
We are also waiting with a white kata (blessing scarf) in our hands to pay our respect to him. When he gets to Romeo he offers him a special and personal blessing, really wonderful!
Photos: Carmen Mensink

After HH the Dalai Lama’s spectacular entrance, the Symposium on Technology & Compassion started, where he went into dialogue with young people, technological innovators and scientists.
(you can watch this back via the video below)

After that, HH the Dalai Lama opened the new exhibition ‘Buddha’s Life, Path to the Present’ that can be visited till Feb 3, 2019,  see below for more info.

Photo: Carmen Mensink

Teachings in Rotterdam

After this excited morning at the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam, Carmen and Romeo had to immediately pack up the artworks and travel to Rotterdam, to install the red carpet artwork in the private quarters of His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Ahoy Convention Center, where he would be welcomed by and walk over the Eight Auspicious Symbols for the next two mornings as well.

HH the Dalai Lama offered several talks and teachings on Sept 16 and 17, 2018.
On Sunday he offered a public talk on ‘Why compassion is essential in our troubled world.’
Photo: Olivier Adam

This was followed by A teaching given by Geshe Thupten Jinpa, who is HH the Dalai Lama’s main translator and is also known for his book ‘A fearless heart: how the courage to be compassionate can transform our lives.’

The day ended with a film screening of ‘The Last Dalai Lama’, directed by Mickey Lemle, about His Holiness’ interest in research into methods through which we can learn to understand our emotions.

12.000 people attended the teachings in Rotterdam.
Photo: Jurjen Donkers

On Monday morning, 17 September, HH the Dalai Lama offered a Buddhist teaching on Langri Thangpa’s text ‘Eight Verses for Training the Mind in Compassion.’ This text gives a clear explanation of how to develop and practice compassion.

Carmen’s 8 Auspicious Symbols are featured on stage and on screen. She designed a banner of the symbols for the stage, as the original red carpet painting was installed backstage, at His Holiness’s private quarters.
Photo: Carmen Mensink

Carmen’s behind her booth during this event, where she sold her thangka paintings, thangka cards, bookmarks and stickers, as well as Tibetan and Nepalese jewellery and other precious items. During these two days she raffled 3 thangka workshops to people who signed up to the Tibetan Buddhist Art Newsletter.
Photo: Roméo Raspan

Before the Dalai Lama’s public talk on Saturday, Richard Gere, actor and chairman of International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), marked  ICT’s 30th jubilee with a discussion about The Dalai Lama’s life inside and outside Tibet.
Photo: Olivier Adam

Photo: Jurjen Donkers

Carmen was also introduced to Richard Gere and his wife before that; they had a lovely conversation while waiting together next to the red carpet painting with 8 Auspicious Symbols for the Dalai Lama to arrive.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama and members of the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) holding a certificate denoting the financial grant ICT will give to the Dalai Lama Institute for Higher Education as a gift of gratitude to His Holiness during their program at the Ahoy convention centre in Rotterdam, Netherlands on September 16, 2018. Carmen’s 8 Auspicious Symbols are featured in the background.
Photo: Jurjen Donkers

The cards that were made from this artwork can be ordered in the Thangka Cards & Bookmarks section of the Thangka Art Shop (that will soon be renewed). They can also be bought during the Thangka courses & Workshops that Carmen offers.

Regular Card, size: 4×6″ (10x15cm)
Price: €2,50 per piece / 5 pieces: €10 / 10 pieces: €17,50 (Excl. shipping costs)

Big Card, size: 6×8″ (15x21cm)
Price: €4 per piece / 5 pieces: €15 / 10 pieces: €25 (Excl. shipping costs)

Larger discounts are possible when ordering larger amounts. Special prices for resellers.

Symposium ‘Compassion & Technology

Seated under contemporary artist Ai Weiwei’s artwork Tree (2010), HH. the Dalai Lama participated in a dialogue on Compassion and Technology. He spoke with young people, technological innovators and scientists, including Faculty Members of content partner SingularityU The Netherlands. And with robot AV1. The dialogue, organized by De Nieuwe Kerk and SingularityU, formed the ceremonial opening of the exhibition ‘Buddha’s Life – Path to the Present’.

Photos: Oliver Adam

The tree of Ai Weiwei is made from old trees in China, a country that is currently undergoing huge urban transformation. In this way he tries to preserve history. In the exhibition it refers to the tree in Bodh Gaya under which Siddhārtha Gautama, the Buddha, found enlightenment, the highest state of consciousness.

You can watch the dialogue on Compassion & Technology with HH. the Dalai Lama here:

Opening of the exhibition ‘Buddha’s Life – Path to the Present’ by HH. the Dalai Lama

On Saturday September 15, 2018, His Holiness the Dalai Lama opened the exhibition ‘The Life of Buddha, Path to the Present’ in De Nieuwe Kerk (the New Church on Dam Square in Amsterdam). 

In this exhibition, more than sixty works of art, both old and new, have come together spectacularly in De Nieuwe Kerk. You can admire a wealth of millennia-old objects and modern artworks by, among others, Ai Weiwei and Yoko Ono. The oldest object dates from the third century, the youngest from 2018; and a few works of art have been made especially for this exhibition.

The exhibition tells the life story of the Buddha. Born in the fifth century BC. as a wealthy prince named Siddharta, he opted radically for another life at the age of 29. His life phases symbolize Buddhism and form the story of the exhibition: birth, transition, enlightenment, first teachings and death.

Read more about this exhibition here

His Holiness the Dalai Lama looking at his personal thangka of Buddha Shakyamuni surrounded by scenes of his life, that was loaned to this exhibition.
Photo: Jeppe Schilder

Do you want to learn how to draw a Buddha or paint a thangka?
Please check out the upcoming thangka courses or book individual thangka teachings with Carmen Mensink

Help paint a Tibetan Mandala during the Museum Night 2018!

Tibetan Mandala of the Five Elements, painted by Carmen Mensink

During the museum night on Saturday 3 November (from 19.00-24.00) Carmen will conduct a large painting project, where all visitors can help paint this beautiful Tibetan Mandala of the 5 Elements during the Buddha Exhibition in De Nieuwe Kerk. This is how it is advertized on their website:

Thangka-workshop with Carmen Mensink
Are you completely impressed by the Buddhist art in the exhibition The Life of Buddha, and can you stare for hours at the painting (thangka) depicting the life story of Buddha, on loan by none other than the Dalai Lama? Carmen Mensink specializes in making these Buddhist paintings, and gives workshops worldwide in which she shares her knowledge. During the Museum Night, she leads a painting project wherein every visitor of the Museum Night can participate! All night everyone can work on a huge copy of a sixteenth-century Mandala of the 5 Elements used by Nepalese and Tibetan physicians. She not only helps you with painting, but will also tell you more about the backgrounds, symbolism and meaning of this mandala.
Nov. 3, 2018, from 19-24 hrs, you can join at any time this evening, and as long or short as you wish. See you there!

To buy a passe-partout for the Museum Night (€19,95) or more info go to Museumnacht Amsterdam

See you soon!

As HH. the Dalai Lama is 83 years old and having some illnesses, this 2018 visit to The Netherlands may have been the last one. This is also the reason why thousands of Tibetans living in Europe came together for a private audience with their spiritual leader in Rotterdam.
We hope and pray that he may stay with us for many more years to come, and keeps on being such an inspiration to so many beings.

Photo left: Olivier Adam / Photo right: Claudia Lucke