HomeCourses > 10 day Thangka Drawing & Painting Retreat in Italy 

Thangka Drawing & Painting Retreat Italy
June 9-18, 2023


Subject for returning students:
Citipati, the Dancing Skeletons

Subjects for new students:
Buddha Face +
The Buddha or Medicine Buddha

In this wonderful 10-day thangka drawing & painting retreat in Italy you will learn to draw and color or paint a Buddha according to the Tibetan Buddhist thangka tradition. The course is suitable for everyone, from beginners (even without any drawing experience!) to advanced:

New Thangka Students:
-Will first learn the basics and draw the Face of the Buddha. After that you can also choose to draw The Buddha (Buddha Shakyamuni), the Historical Buddha of our time, or the Medicine Buddha, the Buddha of Healing Note that it may be easier to stick to coloured pencil techniques for a while before moving on to painting as the thangka painting techniques take a long time to master, and painting a thangka can easily take a year or more. During the retreat you may want to draw your Buddhas and paint a few small symbols to see if the painting is something for you.

Thangka Students who have joined Carmen’s courses before:
– Can go for Citipati, the Dancing Skeletons and/or may also choose to finish their other artwork during this retreat

Citipati and Impermanence
The Citipati are also called ‘Lady and Lord of the Charnel Grounds’. They are the main Dharma protectors associated with the tantric systems of Vajrayogini.

The charnel grounds were terrifying places far from the city, where corpses were cremated. But more often the bodies were ripped apart and eaten by the wild animals that hung around, such as the vultures. It was littered with human flesh, bones and blood… Usually no one came, except for a few courageous yogis who did their tantric practices and – especially at night – meditated on the impermanence of all phenomena.
The Skeletons dance around happily and wildly – with their limbs entwined – and are surrounded by a halo of flames.

The dancing SkeletonsThey remind us of the constant change and impermanence of life.
And it is precisely because of this that they make us aware of the precious life (and body) we have, and inspire us to use it in a meaningful way and not to waste it.

During the retreat, Carmen offers a lot of individual guidance, each student at their own level (and she will bring you to a higher one!).
Carmen will be in touch with each of you before the retreat to note your preferred subject so she can prepare this for you. You will also receive a list with art materials to bring.

The teachings will be offered in clear English. If you don’t understand English, the used texts (meditation/lectures etc.) can be translated in Italian or any other language for you so you can read along.
If you request this please Contact Carmen about it well ahead.

This retreat offers you a complete experience: besides the art sessions you will start each morning with a (guided) meditation and will learn all about the subjects and their iconography/symbolism through lectures. There will also be a movie night, and there will also be sufficient time to go for hikes, explore the surroundings, go to the Garda Lake, walk to the nearby village etc.
This retreat will offer you so much more than just the drawing/painting part. Thangka drawing is a meditation in itself and creates joy and inner peace that you will definitely experience.


More benefits:

  • In this 10-day thangka retreat you can really go in-depth
  • Including lodging and delicious (vegetarian) Italian meals, with organic vegetables from own compound, freshly prepared every day with love
  • Meet students from different countries and make new friends
  • The course is set in Kushi Ling, a beautiful Buddhist Centre in Italy, amidst the mountains and olive trees
  • You will also have time to fully enjoy the beautiful surroundings and make walks, visit the nearby village and have a drink or taste the best ice cream, or go to the medieval castle on top of the hill
  • Halfway during the retreat there will be an afternoon off that you could use to visit Lake Garda
  • You can fly to Verona or Milan
  • You can travel together with Carmen from Verona, Peschiera or Riva del Garda on the first day
  • Great possibility to combine this retreat with vacation in Italy (e.g. to Lake Garda and Verona that are nearby)

Any questions that are not answered on this page? Contact Carmen

Want to travel together with Carmen and other participants?
In the morning on the first day of the retreat, Carmen and some other students will travel together to Kushi Ling, most probably by taking a bus from Verona to Peschiera (bottom of the lake) where they take the beautiful boat trip (around 9.45 AM) to Riva del Garda (top of the lake), have lunch together, and share a 20min. taxi ride to Kushi Ling.
Around a week before the course Carmen will be in touch with you with the latest details, and you can let her know if you want to travel together.
If you have any questions you are welcome to contact her.

More Info & Registration

Friday June 9, 2023:
You can arrive at your own pace during the day and get settled in your room (you can also travel together with Carmen and other participants, see above).
In the evening we start at 19.00hr / 7pm with a welcome dinner for all participants and get to know each other, after which the first lecture is offered.

Sunday June 18, 2023:
The course ends after lunch (around 14.00hr / 2pm).
If you need to get to the airport or elsewhere, you can often travel together or share a taxi with other participants.

PRICE: €967
This includes everything: the Thangka Painting Retreat (€375) + 9 nights x €63 (€567) of lodging & all meals: three great fresh vegetarian meals a day, coffee, tea, biscuits, fruit etc. + Annual Membership Fee (€25)
All prices shown include the VAT. After registration you will be asked for a downpayment, and can pay the rest later.

You will stay in a double room, with or without attached bathroom.
A single room
is only possible if there are rooms left  (€78 per night instead of €63). You can contact Kushi Ling to inquire(via the form).
If you want to be absolutely sure that you’ll sleep alone we suggest you bring a tent, camper, or stay elsewhere (we can advise a B&B in walking distance or in Arco, the nearest village).

Not able to join the full retreat?
You will get the most out of the full thangka retreat, but if you are unable to come for the full 10 days you can opt for a half retreat (9-13 June or 14-18 June, ending after lunch on the last day), but note that this is ONLY possible when you bring your own tent or camper, stay in the meditation room, or stay elsewhere (we can advise a B&B in walking distance or in Arco, the nearest village). There is a limited amount of beds in the center that are reserved for the people that stay for the complet retreat. In a half retreat you will be able to draw a Buddha Face and a complete Buddha image but will have to do the coloring or painting at home.


You can choose if you want to draw & color (advised for beginner students) or paint (advised for advanced students):

To draw (advised for beginner students):

  • a minimum of 2 sheets of good quality drawing paper 50x65cm
  • a long ruler (for ex. 50cm)
  • a pencil HB (or mechanical pencil if you like)
  • an eraser
  • colored pencils of a good brand (such as Prismacolor Premier, Caran d’Ache Luminance or Faber Castell Polychromos)

To paint (for more advanced students):

  • the drawing materials above
  • in addition to this please bring all you need for painting. Carmen will send you the List of Materials beforehand. There is no art shop nearby, but in ‘Carmen’s little shop’ you can buy additional art materials if needed. Please bring cash for this.

A  little more explanation on the different student levels:

• First time thangka students will also learn how to draw a Buddha face (always the basis), before moving on to drawing (and coloring) the subject mentioned.

• Beginners and half-experienced will learn to draw the image, as well as color or paint after that. After the drawing you can choose to color your Buddha and learn the color pencil techniques (advisable for total beginners and people who want to return home with a finished artwork), or make a start to paint her with the thangka painting techniques.

• Experienced thangka students may want to prepare a traditional canvas (contact Carmen beforehand for instructions) after which you can transfer your drawing onto the canvas and start painting the Buddha.

• This retreat can also be used to continue/finish other thangka artwork that you’ve been working on.
Of course you will receive the grids of the subject of this retreat, to draw/paint it in the future.

Besides the drawing/painting sessions in this course you will learn through lectures & slideshows all about the particular subject and symbolism, mantra and meaning, as well as practicing the accompanying meditations.

Center for Meditation Kushi-Ling
Alle Fontane, Laghel 19,
CP 118, I-38062,
Arco/Lago di Garda (TN), Italy


Carmen will take option B, and you can join her (see below)

There are many different ways to get to Kushi Ling:
Kushi Ling is a gorgeous retreat center in between mountains and surrounded by olive trees. It’s about 15min. by car / 35min. on foot to the nearest village, the beautiful place of Arco.

The nearest airport is Verona, but you can also fly to Milan.
The trip to Kushi Ling offers great views and pittoresque villages, especially when traveling along the Garda Lake.
The following travel options are from Verona Airport, but you can use parts of it when coming from Milan or other directions:

A) Via Verona by bus & train
> Verona is a beautiful city (the city of Romeo & Juliet!) and well worth a stay. In the summer the famous open air operas are held in the historical city centre.
– Take the Aerobus (every 20min, in front of Verona Airport) to Verona Station (Verona Porta Nuova), price is €6
– Next take the train from Verona to Rovereto. The ‘treno regionale’ is the cheapest (around €8) and takes 50min. (don’t forget to stamp the ticket before you get onto the train).
– From Rovereto take a taxi to Kushi Ling
Take bus 332 or 301 to Arco (Autostazione) and take a taxi (or share with others) for the last part to Kushi Ling (max. €15). If you cannot find a taxi in Arco you can call Antonella: +39-333 5963033 or +39-0464 518983 or a different taxi service: +39-0464 – 514520.
Optional: You can also walk the last part from Arco but it’s steep/uphill -it’s a great walk but might not be handy with luggage- which will take about one hour.

The taxi drivers most probably know Centro di Meditazione Kushi Ling. If not, let him/her read this:
Dal centro cittá prendere la strada (a destra) verso Laghel. Arrivati alla chiesa Santa Maria di Laghel si prende la salita a sinistra e si segue tutta la strada (circa 3 km) fino alle Fontane: è l’ultima casa.

B) By boat over the Garda Lake (recommended!)
NOTE: This is how some students and Carmen will travel to the course and you are very welcome to join (either in Verona, Peschiera or Riva). Around a week before the course Carmen will be in touch the students about this.
> The Garda Lake is one of Italy’s most popular places to visit, and great to combine as vacation with this thangka painting retreat. ‘Lago di Garda’ offers great views, mountains, and small villages full of colorful houses.
– From Verona Airport take a taxi or bus 164 (in front of the airport) to Peschiera del Garda. The bus goes once an hour.
Peschiera is a lovely village at the bottom of the Garda Lake and from there you can take the once-a-day slow boat (4hr, only around €17) to Riva del Garda, which is all the way to the top of the lake. The trip is a vacation in itself, with amazing views and short stops at pittoresque villages.
Optional: take the boat from Garda (some stops further on the bus) to Riva del Garda
– From Riva (del Garda) take a bus to Arco (read further at A) or take/share a taxi (max. €10 per person) to Kushi Ling.

C) By bus along the Garda Lake
– From Verona Airport take bus 164 (in front of the airport, every hour during summer -Check beforehand!) to Garda (lovely village along the lake)
– From Garda take bus No.184 to Riva del Garda (another lovely village at the top of the lake)
– From Riva del Garda take a bus to Arco (see A) or taxi to Kushi Ling (see B)

D) By taxi
From Verona Airport you can book a taxi to Kushi Ling (that you could share with other thangka students). It takes about 1,5hr. to get there.

E) Rent a car
Especially handy when you want to combine the thangka painting course with vacation in Italy.


Before the course starts Carmen will be in touch with all participants to inventorize how they will travel, and connect them with other students if they prefer. When all participants leave after the thangka painting course, you can probably travel back with others or get a ride to a train or bus station.


Register asap to be secure your space:



Check out more pics of the Thangka Painting Retreat Italy


mandala-workshops“When I knew about the five elements mandala course I thought it would be an interesting and beautiful way of develop my knowledge about this subject.

My personal intention was to achieve more clearness in my mind.
I saw the mandala as a mirror of my own energy.
I feel this work as a very complete and clear meditation where we can observe the mind, the sight (seeing) and our hand (as expression). And the connection between them.

My experience show me that although the constantly waves of my mind (by them I couldn’t believe I could do just a complex and beautiful work), the mandala was growing surprising beautiful. And, in between,  I knew a lot of more things about me. I should be very proud!

Also I feel grateful to spend 9 days in Kushi Ling, this peaceful place between the mountains. With a great company of the group and with the guidance and wisdom of Carmen.

It was a very good experience, that I recommend very much.”

Maria José Moura, Porto, Portugal
Annual Thangka Painting Retreat in Italy

To read more testimonials and see artwork of thangka students, go to the Testimonial & Artwork page