Laura studied at The Movement Center, a spiritual community dedicated to meditation, yoga, and Buddhist tantric healing practices. She received direct transmission training in thangka painting from Sri Swami Chetanananda Saraswati, the abbot of the Movement Center, as well as receiving teachings from Lama Tsering Wandgu Rimpoche, a lineage holder of the Longchen Nyingthig, Shije, and Chod traditions. She currently paints thankgas and Hindu deities, writes and illustrates coloring books based on her art and past career as an acupuncturist, and sells archival quality prints of her work on Etsy.com/shop/LauraSantiSacredArt.
She studied thanka painting very briefly with Greg Smith, faculty and long time student of Shambhala, Susan St. Clair Bennett, learning thangka conservation techniques, and Sudarshan Suwal of Kathmandu, voted best thangka artist in Nepal three times, but in technique she is largely self taught.
Laura says that she loves all styles and centuries of Thangka painting and Hindu art and draws from them all in her work. She does this because she believes any heritage, to thrive, has to allow for growth and change, and this mixing of tiny details, like the spacing of the points of a crown or the proportions of a Buddha from the 10th century versus the 17th century, keeps this spiritual art interesting and new for her. She thinks of herself as a traditional thangka painter, and wants her paintings to feel connected and true to Buddhist and historical iconography, but her main interest is to make a beautiful compelling image, more than following the tenants of one historical style.
I use gouache, which is water color pigments that are not ground as finely and so give a chalky, antique look. I also use some ground minerals, and prepared natural mineral paints made of such things as Lapis, or Ochre. The finishing touch is using 24K gold on the paintings.
The concept of the goddess Prajnaparamita originally began as a reverence for sacred writings about paths to wisdom, handed down and preserved, in a time when books and writings and education were scarce and hard to come by. Over time these sutra writings, called the “Perfection of wisdom”, or “Prajnaparamita”, were distilled into two great works, the Diamond Sutras and the Heart Sutras. These texts were the subject of worship in Mahayana Buddhism, in much the same way that devotional figures were. Under the influence of Tantric Buddhism they became deified as the Goddess of Wisdom. Prajnaparamita is also called the mother of all three times - the past, present, and future. She is radiantly beautiful and sweet.
Mandala illustration originally conceived of and drawn by Indologist Dr Alexis Sanderson
me, painting LalitaTripurasundari...
The thangka artform has many influences: it came from India with Buddhist in the 7th century and spread through Nepal, Tibet, China and beyond. Its influenced by Chinese landscape painting, Nepalese deity structure, Indian jewelry, the Bon religion, and the early cave paintings of Shamanism.
Close-up of bottom register of Chöd painting.
The ancient practice of Chöd, the Pacification of Suffering, predates any of the known religions of our time, but was adopted by Buddhism centuries ago.
This is the left side of the lineage field in the painting of the Buddhist Chöd practice. The teachers and people here are the major influences for my root Guru, Śrī Swami Chetanananda Saraswati
coloring page from O Deity Divine!
coloring page : 5 Secrets of the RIver Qi