I visited a monastery called Fo Guang Shan (FGS) in Kaoshiung, Taiwan for the Chinese New Year. Without sounding real heavy on my purpose of being there, nor will I say I went there to “become enlightened”. I went there because I have heard of this place where it’s the largest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan. I’ve done previous temple stays in Korea, but not yet in Taiwan. After taking a 2-hour high speed rail from Taipei to Kaoshiung, I got off and took a short bus ride to FGS.
This three day retreat were foreigners from France, India, UK, and America for the most part, about 50 of us. It was an education of FGS and some of the Buddhist traditions. I was more surprised how much free time we had to explore on our own. This monastery is like a huge, college campus, full of wealth and a ton of Buddhist statues, temples and space. I think “space” is a valuable resource in Taiwan, seems like you have to look for it, while it’s so available at KGS for anyone to explore this space. Personally, I would have like to gone deeper in my beliefs and learn more meditation techniques. But that is saved for other weekend retreats the temple has during other times of the year. None the less, we were treated to free meals, hung out with friendly nuns/monks who were very accessible with questions and their time. There were parades, lanterns, and an amazing fireworks display by the largest Buddha statue.
And now what about the art?
After everyone left and the retreat was done, I had brought my pochade box and painted a house and a Buddha statue. There were so many choices and I may go back to some of my photos, but I wanted to put the Buddha into my painting because I never did one before. After a short time painting, I went back to Taipei and finished the painting with more details. The only thing I would do differently is use a stronger tripod, as I quickly found out that it wasn’t strong enough for my pochade box. I had to hold the box with one hand and use the other one painting. Oh well, you live and you learn. But I came away with a cool painting and memories to boot.
some of the main composition and color scheme completed
part of the inspiration, from the orange house and purple flowers
Yours truly giving the peace sign