A Tale of Two Buddha Paintings

I’ve started creating some smaller, more affordable paintings to complement my medium and larger size originals, and one of the first most endearing subjects I like to paint is Buddha. I like seeing all the different kinds of Buddha images from different cultures and my reactions to them. Which ones are most appealing and which ones I don’t connect with as much. I found a couple of styles I liked and made my own interpretation of them.

Here are the process shots of two Buddha paintings that I think you’ll find interesting.


I start out with a canvas that has been textured then with a light brown wash added. White canvases are so intimidating! Then I do a line drawing for each in pencil, to allow for lots of mistakes and erasing. Last, I paint over the final line. Even then, I can change my mind. For example, the Buddha on the right, his nose is too big. You can see I tried fixing it with the lines, but I give him a bit of a nose job once I start painting him.



Next I do an underpainting. I love opposite colors and the vibrating POP the colors make next to each other. In this photo, I made a red background and edges, and a dark blue Buddha face.

I add a light yellow green gradient from a darker green at the bottom. Little bits of red underpainting show through here and there. The edges have a dark green, again with bits of red peeking through here and there.

On the other canvas, the background and edges are purple and the Buddha’s head is an orange-yellow, I just didn’t take a picture of it.

After the background is done, I then paint the face. I use chunky blocks of color, sometimes taking off my glasses to make it blurry so I see shades, highlights and shadows more than details. This method is immensely helpful. Bits of blue peek out behind the brownish-gold.

buddha1-doneThis is just a snapshot of the finished painting. This Buddha painting is in the Chiang Saen style, a town in northern Thailand, near the Lao border.

I chose this image because I like the unusual shape of the mouth, the sloping nose and the curves of the nearly-closed eyes. I also like the angle of the head. Most Buddha paintings I see are facing forward, either the full face or the composition of the photo/painting shows only half the face. And those looks great, but I liked this different angle with a small part of the other eye showing. You can even see one knot of the hair!

I’ve added gold leaf flakes, which look much brighter in this photo than in person. It all depends on the angle of the light on the painting, which is pretty neat.  I also took the palette knife to some highlight colors such as blue along the nose and eyebrow and dark purple at the far left of the jaw and the dark part just under the eyebrow.

Let’s take a look at the next painting.



I didn’t take as many process shots on this one, but the steps are the same. First, opposite color underpainting, then a tanish-gold background with purple underpainting showing through along with a green-blue Buddha face.

In the above shot, I’m finishing up the hair, trying to get it done before my son gets home from school.

And now we have the final pieces.

Like the Chiang Saen Buddha painting, the blue piece has little dashes of color to lead the eye around the painting, along with palette knife strokes of chunky swipes of color.

I like the lips and nose on this painting, and the way he seems to be looking slightly down. I like the angle of the head in this composition.

I still have not named these two paintings yet. The Blue Buddha is on a 10×10 gallery canvas and will go for $150. The Chiang Saen Buddha is an 8×8 and will be $120.

Here’s the deal. If you subscribe to my newsletter, though, I will give you a sneak preview of them before the general public and you will get the opportunity to buy them for a 25% discount!

Sign up here:

My newsletter will go out on the 20th, announcing this special deal. You will also be automatically entered into a drawing for an original painting worth $100 (see my Instagram account for photos of the mountain painting) AND you will receive 2 free downloadable greeting cards worth $10.


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