Laura Santi began painting thangkas in 2002, after living with and admiring antique thangkas at The Movement Center, a yoga school and spiritual retreat center in Portland, for 20 years. She graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 1981 with a bachelors in Graphic Design, began studying yoga and meditation under the direction of Swami Chetanananda in 1979, and became an initiate and practitioner of various Tibetan healing practices in the Nyingma tantric order of Buddhism in 2001 under the direction of Lama Tsering Wangdu Rinpoche. Her knowledge of thangka iconographic imagery and techniques comes from her spiritual teachers and self-study. Her goals are to follow the traditions of this style of painting, but to contemporize it so that it has a vibrancy and potency that can touch not only a Buddhist practitioner, but also others completely unfamiliar with this sort of art. She begins each painting by researching the meaning of the deity she is painting and looking at many other artists interpretations of the deity. She distills the essence into a drawing that, following tradition, is drawn first in pencil, then the lines are painted. Next the border is painted to create a sacred space for the deity to enter. The eyes are painted last to awaken the deity. She paints with gouache, mineral paints, and 22k gold on cotton, working to create the colors and look of older eras of thangka painting. . Historically painters used ground rocks, gems, and gold mixed with a medium to create paint.