Kumar Lama

There were no artists or painters in my family, and yet at 9 years of age I was discovered to be a prodigy by Palden Lama, a most highly respected and revered master Thangka painter (who painted 108 temples and monasteries during his lifetime.) Almost immediately, I began my study and apprenticeship with Palden Lama, which included a complete traditional curriculum of foundational training in the making and preparation of tools, materials and paints, as well as in the study of proportion. I studied and became fluent in the two major styles or schools of Thangka painting, Mendi and Karma Gadri. At age 15, after the death of my beloved first teacher and benefactor, I walked 5 days through the mountains and jungles of Nepal to Kathmandu City to study and work with my second teacher, the young, but already accomplished master Thangka painter and artist, Jigme Lama. During the next seven years, I was both commissioned to paint and exhibited my art in Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and France. In 1991, the Ethnographic Museum of the University of Zurich in Zurich,Switzerland commissioned me to paint the Kalachakra mandala. This painting, using only natural pigment, is still on exhibit and is 32 " by 34 " unframed and took one year to paint. In 1994,while exhibiting my art in Switzerland, I met Lama Tharchin Rinpoche, founder of the Vajrayana Foundation in Watsonville, California. Lama Tharchin had been looking for an artist to paint the Dudjom Tersar Lineage Tree for his temple, but had not been able to find one who had the technical skill for this project. When he saw the exhibition of my work, Lama Tharchin knew that he had finally found the right thangka painter for the job. As a result of this meeting, in 1996, Lama Tharchin Rinpoche invited me to settle in the United States, to paint and teach under the auspices of the Vajrayana Foundation and commissioned me to paint the Dudjom Tersar Lineage Tree. For the past 10 years I have been painting by commission, teaching, and exhibiting my work throughout the San Francisco Bay Area . I also regularly give slide presentation talks on the "history of Thangka painting" that are well received and very popular. I have been a working artist my entire adult life and my work is my life.

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