White Tara is a female Bodhisattva in Buddhism. She is connected with compassion, good health, and longevity.
The mantra for White Tara is OM TARE TUTARE TURE MAMA AYURPUNYE JNANA PUTIN KURU SVAHA, the short form is OM TARE (liberating from samsara) TUTTARE (liberating from the eight fears) TURE (liberating from disease) SVAHA (so may it be)
I learned about White Tara from Garchen Rinpoche when he came to teach in Southern California. When the Dalai Lama came to teach in Long Beach i got some White Tara postcards by Andy Weber from England, who spent seven years living and studying the iconographical art of Tibetan Buddhism from accomplished masters in India and Nepal.
Last weekend Andy Weber came to Los Angeles to conduct a two-day retreat/workshop at the Asian Classic Institute of Los Angeles (ACI-LA) and i had a chance to learn how to draw White Tara with this wonderful artist and scholar. It was a spiritually and artistically inspiring experience.
Here's a painting of White Tara by Andy
There is a method to the art of drawing and painting icons in Tibetan Buddhism. The method is grid-based, and since deity like White Tara represents enlightened being who emanates a sense of perfection, exact symmetry and proportion is very important in drawing many features such as head, face, body, hands, ornamentations.
Each day we spent about 8 hours in class. The class always began which a meditation session and mantra citing led by the teacher. I love this part because it put me in a contemplative and centering state so i could mindfully draw with the awareness of what White Tara represents. Andy Weber's mantra chanting was wonderful and with closed eyes i thought it came from a Tibetan Lama :-)
We started out drawing the head
Then combining the head and the body. For the White Tara the head is slightly tilted to one side
All details in the picture have spiritual meanings. For example her left hand holds the stem of the Utpala flower representing her knowledge of past, present and future. The open flower shows the past, the closed the future and the just-opening bud the present. Through Andy's explanation i learned to look at picture of White Tara with much more understanding and appreciation. His book "Images of Enlightenment Tibetan Arts in Practice" is a wonderful resource on Tibetan Buddhist art.
Adding the ornamentations
Almost there :-)
Besides beginners like me there were other students in the class who had previously attended Andy's workshops and they were working on the color version
Andy also taught us how to make our own canvas using a wooden frame (made by his son) and a sheet of fabric
and shared with us his use of natural colors in a mandata painting
I had such a joyful time and could not believe that i was able to make drawing of this beautiful deity (i have to say that my drawing is far from making her justice :-)).
Thank you Andy!