“My name is Pakaphong Thongkaing. I grew up in Chiang Dao, a forested district of Chiang Mai province. My mother is a housewife and my father works for the forestry department as a government official. I have two brothers and I am the middle one. When we were young my parents struggled to make ends meet. However, even though they could not afford much, they managed and we could study at school.
“But it was actually a good thing as we learned to be creative. For example, my older brother loved houses. I remember watching him build miniature houses. He would build the structure from wood and cardboard boxes and cover the roof with leaves. He is now a good architect. As for me, I really loved toys. So I started to draw my own toys. I loved to see them take shape on the paper. As I kept practicing, I started to enjoy the drawing process much more than the toys and other subjects I drew.
“My love for drawing and art started then. It became quite an obsession. But my parents did not like it and forbade me to continue drawing. They thought I should focus on my studies and follow in my father’s footsteps. So I reluctantly did what they thought would be best for my future, to study to become a government official.
“However, I failed High Scholl final examination and studied photography at Vocational School instead. I eventually studied mass communication at Rajaphat University. The best thing that happened at the University was meeting my wife. We married a few years later and now have two daughters.
“My daughters influence me to the good. I want to make my art the best I can for them and for their future. One day when they are grown up, I hope they will see positively what I have been doing and have good feelings about it. A father now, I will let them lead their life the way they want, as long as it does make them happy and does not make others unhappy.
“After serving a mandatory two years in the military, I met an old friend from school. He was a resin artisan and asked me to work with him. He taught me to build wax molds and create resin figurines. At the same time I learned more about painting and kept practicing. My artistic skills rapidly improved and I became really passionate about painting. It became obvious that this was my vocation.
“For my first job I painted a wall for Chiang Mai Theater. Later I was hired to restore the murals at Sri Donchai temple, in my hometown. The murals featured an allegory of Buddha’s life. The temple was so old and all the murals had been damaged by the passing of time. The government said they did not have any budget for that restoration. So the abbot and the villagers managed to raise the funds by themselves. I volunteered to restore the murals with a friend. It took us an entire year to complete the work.
“The people who appreciated the restored murals hired me to paint murals in other temples. It went on this way for quite a while and I worked on several temples. I enjoyed doing it very much. It gave me the opportunity to study again the life of Buddha in details. Painting Buddha’s life every day was like study, meditation and worship. I also earned a living by painting, which enabled me to fully concentrate on what I love.
“During that time, I really absorbed Buddhism and the peaceful Buddhist ways of life. I have ever since tried and incorporate these ways into my paintings, which I think convey a certain atmosphere of serenity. Working on the temples also led me to paint for Her Royal Highness Princess Chulaporn’s institute. Ultimately, I was even bestowed the great honor to paint in Her Royal Highness’s personal Buddhist room in her palace.
“Something had been missing for more than a decade. Once art was back in my life, I felt I had found what had been lost and truly found myself in the process. I cannot be happier than I am today. I have my loving family and my art. They all complete me and make me feel so alive. I just would not be able to live without them.
“I am glad I met and worked with talented artists. I am so grateful for the many things they taught me. I will keep practicing and keep challenging myself to improve. I want to thank my family, my friends, my teachers and all people who appreciate my artistic work. Your love and support has given to me the chance to live of my passion, and to live a happy and serene life with my family. I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous future.”
Browse Pakaphong’s paintings.
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Text by EZISTOCK © Ezistock Co., Ltd., 2012 – All Rights Reserved.
Image ‘Pakaphong at Work’ by EZISTOCK © Ezistock Co., Ltd., – All Rights Reserved.
Other images by Pakaphong Thongkaing © Pakaphong Thongkaing – All Rights Reserved.
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