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Art Prompt #199: Mahakala ✏️
Might Could Draw Today!
Welcome to Week #199(!) of Might Could Draw Today (MCDT)! I’m here to invite you to draw with me today!
👋 If you’re new here: I started MCDT in 2016 and through its various iterations, it has spurred the creation of over 20,000 pieces of art by hundreds of artists from around the world! A new art prompt is delivered every Monday and you have the week to draw from that theme however you choose.
It’s almost Thanksgiving here in the States, and that means lots of food, family, and… fatigue! The holidays are wonderful, but they can also be draining if we don’t allow ourselves space to rest and time to draw.
Most people talk about gratitude practices and such around this time of year, but I’ve got something a little bit different today. This week is a special prompt that I hope will help you and me both protect our mental energy and defend our creative time so we can be fully present with the ones we love! Let’s draw!
A Couple Announcements
Monday, Nov. 28, 7–8pm EST is the next MCDT Live, our monthly virtual drawing hour available to all paid subscribers. This will be a special one to celebrate 200 Weeks of MCDT! The link to join will be emailed out to all paid subscribers on the day of the event, so upgrade here if you want to join! And save the date to your calendar now.
In the new I Might Could Do That Chat, we now have a space to share our art right here in Substack! The Chat feature is currently only on the app and currently only for iOS, but Android is coming in the next month! Join the Chat and share your art from this week’s prompt here!
This Week’s MCDT Art Prompt
Week #199: Nov. 21–27, 2022
Mahakala is a Buddhist deity who protects Buddhist followers from obstacles on their path to enlightenment. So although he looks terrifying and aggressive, he’s fighting for good!
In Buddhism, there are many deities, gods, and buddhas. These deities can be seen in many ways, but the way that makes sense to me is that the deities are manifestations of virtuous qualities.
Thubten Chodron says, “In the same way that artists express themselves symbolically through images, the Buddhas express their compassion symbolically by appearing in the form of Avalokiteshvara [the Bodhisattva of Compassion].” In each painting or depiction of these deities, the color, pose, body parts, jewelry, etc, all symbolize some quality or virtue. By visualizing an abstract concept, like compassion, we can understand it in a deeper way and cultivate that quality ourselves.
So, back to Mahakala. Mahakala is a defender and protector, and his wrath symbolizes the death of our kleshas, mental states that cloud the mind like anxiety, anger, and depression. His fierceness represents our own ability to overcome these obstacles so that we may instead cultivate compassion, generosity, and loving-kindness. When battling strong afflictions, who wouldn’t want this guy on your side?
As with all art in the wisdom traditions, every element of this deity’s depiction is symbolic. For example, Mahakala wears a crown of five skulls which represents the transformation of the five negative afflictions into positive virtues, like anger into loving-kindness. Mahakala reminds us of our own inner strength and determination to overcome obstacles and return to inner peace.
So this week, let’s tap into that strength and determination and draw some Mahakalas! If the intricate detail in the paintings intimidates you, try searching for Mahakala masks or sculptures, like above, which are a bit more simplified. You can absolutely choose pieces of these artworks to focus on—you could draw just the head of Mahakala, or even just the crown of skulls!
Break it down into whatever way inspires you to draw (and/or helps you feel strong, determined, and fierce in protecting your mindset!)
Share Your Art with Us!
Drawing the same thing collectively is all the more fun when we can share and see each other’s work. Everyone draws and interprets these prompts differently and the creativity is infectious! Share your Mahakala drawings and say hello in our new Chat group right here in the Substack app:
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