The word Buddha in Sanskrit means ‘to be awakened’...Expressed in art, Buddhas are not objects of worship, but mirrors of our innermost being, icons of the journey from ignorance to illumination.   

Ian A. Baker

Sitting in meditation one morning, the idea struck: Paint the face of Buddha! I felt “called” to this. I had always loved to paint faces (see Heads on Wood under Portfolio).  So, combining that lifelong interest with my ever-growing spiritual study, meditation, and practice of yoga felt right. It has stimulated my spirit and imagination to apply the formal aspects of painting to what is to me a deeply meaningful subject.

Viewing ancient Buddha statues, I’m inspired by the beautifully worn materials of their construction. This weathering expresses the life cycle of decay and rebirth, impermanence and change, which the Buddha taught to acknowledge and accept. Because everything is in flux, from the celestial bodies speeding through space down to the frenetic motion of atomic particles, movement is essential to my paintings.

The colors that I use are always my own, inspired by the spontaneous, abstract under-painting, which is how I begin each painting (see Videos 1 and 2). Rather than recreate a dead, lifeless statue, I seek to depict a living Buddha, as an expression of the life of his teachings, whose energy and spirit live on today. And most important, I attempt to convey the idea that beneath the chaotic pace of our modern lives, there exists the possibility for inner peace and transcendence.

Whether Buddhist or not, viewers have said that they respond to the timeless and iconic quality of these images. I think the more technological, fast-paced, and brutal the world becomes, the more people gravitate to its opposite – the eternal, the serene, and the compassionate, all qualities that the Buddha image embodies.

Virginia Peck, 2015