Himalayan Art School
Himalayan Art School offers traditional Buddhist art classes from the genre of Paubha (traditional painting of Nepal). Himalayan Art School was founded by artist Chelsea Beach. Chelsea studied for three and a half years under master artist Lok Chitrakar, founder of Simrik Atelier in Patan, Nepal. With Chitrakar’s encouragement Chelsea is continuing the Paubha tradition in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA.
The curriculum developed by Lok Chitrakar and Chelsea Beach starts with basic drawing skills and symbolism. The symbols of Paubha are the foundations of Buddhist philosophy, making the learning process personally beneficial. Students are also taught Buddhist Art Historical knowledge beginning with the life of the Buddha up to present day. Once the students have learned the foundations of drawing and Buddhist principles they progress on to painting, color theory, development of design and advanced philosophy.
Paubha is a unique form of art that survives in a world where modernism has almost completely devastated traditional arts. The genre of Paubha is over 1,000 years old, yet the concepts are still pertinent due to their universal appeal. Arguably this is the reason why Paubha has survived to the present.
Paubha was created by the indigenous people of the Kathmandu Valley known as Newar. The word Paubha means, "divine in flat form." Through the study of Paubha art, an observer versed in the symbols, images, and philosophy can read the paintings like a text. Furthermore, the images in the paintings are used as visual aids for visualization meditations in the Vajrayana Buddhist tradition. The paintings are not only beautiful on the surface but provide the deepest insights into our own conscious experience.
The most important goal of the Himalayan School of Art is to plant the seed of wisdom and compassion in our community and share the beauty of Buddhist art.
"Detail of Medicine Buddha" by Lok Chitrakar 2017
Chelsea obtained her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Colorado at Boulder in both Studio Arts and Art History. After discovering the Buddha's life story early on in life, she made many pilgrimages to India and Nepal starting at the age of 19. After graduating from CU Boulder in 2009 she worked at Habitat Gallery in Denver, Colorado and Forest Tango in Blanca, Colorado, studying mural painting and curating. However, her strong connection to painting and Buddhist Art History drove her to find a master artist to formally learn the tradition of Paubha.
It was her luckiest moment in life to be accepted under the tutelage of master artist Lok Chitrakar, in 2014. After one year of studying with him, Chitrakar asked Chelsea to teach at his Atelier and to manage formal courses. Chelsea taught at Simrik Atelier and Kathmandu University for two and half years. Her experience teaching in Nepal gave her the chance to teach people from different backgrounds,
skills, and nationalities. Her desire is to share the knowledge that Lok Chitrakar passed to her and to spread the reach of Paubha art to new communities, so that more people benefit from the universal truths found within the art.
Lok Chitrakar is one of the most renowned and respected artists in Nepal. He has not only been painting for over forty years, he has been teaching for over thirty years. Chitrakar is a pioneer in reviving the medieval style of Paubha art, a time when Newar artisans were not as influenced by other styles. It is the root of the Newar Schooling. By continuing to make his own mineral paints and tirelessly critiquing art history, Chitrakar has spearheaded a campaign to educate the public about the mastery of the Newer School of Art, a school of art underrepresented in Art History and art education despite its far-reaching influence in South and Eastern Asia.
Some of the most impressive bodies of work of Lok Chitrakar is his series of 108 paintings of the Boddhisattva of Compassion, Avalokitesvara. The paintings are placed in a single room devoted to his work at the Kanzoin Museum in Japan. The magnanimous series took him 12 years to complete. The paintings are displayed around a large central painting of Buddha Amitabha, the "father" Buddha of the lotus family (padmakula) to which the Boddhisattva of Compassion belongs.
Afer all of Lok Chitrakar's accomplishments he remains humble and patient. When asked if he is proud to represent Newar traditional painting abroad he simply replies, "I am simply proud to be an artist."