In meditation, we mostly learn to note our inner voices with dispassion, and let them go. But sometimes, as Virginia Peck experienced while meditating one day in 2004, our intuition insists we listen. After her children had grown and departed, the Lowell, MA, painter had been seeking a path back to fine arts from commercial illustration. That morning, a still voice said, “Paint the Buddha’s face.”
And not just once. Since that pivotal moment on the cushion, Peck has created more than 60 works featuring the Buddha’s visage as well as other buddha and bodhisattva images. She employs a particular layering technique that gives the paintings what a profile published this week in her local Valley Dispatch called “depth and history.” (See a video showing how Peck creates these effects after the jump).
“Viewing ancient Buddha statues, I’m inspired by the beautifully worn materials of their construction,” Peck says in an artist’s statement.
“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…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.”
If you happen to find yourself in Lowell, you can view Peck’s work at Western Avenue Studios the first Saturday of each month. Otherwise, she has a complete portfolio displayed online.
Here are two more examples of Peck’s paintings, followed by a short video showing her creative process: