Friday, April 17, 2015


While virtually wandering Bhutan for the April 2015 Virtual Paintout I saw what looked like a lot of laundry fluttering in the breeze.  Buddhism is the major religion in Bhutan and prayer flags are used there to bless the surrounding countryside and for several other purposes.  These colorful pieces of cloth are strung from homes and monasteries, and I also saw countless prayer flags hung on the river bridges.

According to Wikipedia,  “...prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength and wisdom.  The flags do not carry prayers to gods, which is a common misconception; rather the Tibetans believe the prayers will be blown by the wind to spread good will and compassion into all-pervading space.”

 I found a large building I’m guessing was a monastery with rows of flags hung on lines and larger ones hung on vertical poles.

Some of them were faded but I brightened up the colors in my painting to match the traditional sets of five in the order of blue, white, red, green and yellow which represent the five elements.  Blue symbolizes the sky; white: air and wind; red: fire, green: water; and yellow symbolizes earth. According to their traditional medicine, health and harmony are produced through the balance of the five elements.

There was much more to learn about the prayer flags.  I just hope my painting is a reflection of respect for the traditions surrounding them.

The link to the Google Street View location used for my painting:

Thursday, April 16, 2015


The country of Bhutan was selected as the site for the April 2015 Virtual Paintout.     I had to do some homework to locate it between China and India.  It’s no larger than Switzerland and has been called “the last Shangri-La” because of its serene, natural beauty. The Himalayan Mountains are its northern border and Gangkhar Puensum at 22,623 feet is the highest unclimbed peak in the world.  Climbers are not permitted to scale these mountains to prevent the “disturbing of the spirits.”  A 1995 law mandates that 60 percent of Bhutan’s land must remain forested while another 26 percent is already protected as parkland.

Using Google Street View I virtually explored a few areas of Bhutan.  The roads I saw were narrow, rugged and with little or no pavement in many places.  I was thankful the Street View people were courageous and adventurous enough to brave the one lane roads with sheer drop-offs to provide virtual access to views of the awesome mountains and deep, peaceful valleys.

 My first watercolor is of a view overlooking an area in a northern district named Damji, Gasa.  The buildings appear to be typical farm houses and the fields are terraced.  I’m guessing some of the fields are rice paddies.

Street View of the actual location:

I'll send my paintings to be posted on the Virtual Paintout in the near future.  Check some of the other submissions by clicking on the link in the first sentence of this post.