Monday, May 1, 2023

Ksitigarbha Temple

4/29/23 Ksitigarbha Temple, Lynnwood

 Urban Sketchers Seattle was treated to a unique experience Saturday: an afternoon sketching at Ksitigarbha Buddhist Temple. Lynnwood is a bit farther north than we typically venture for sketch outings, but the experience was certainly worth the extra miles. Open to the public on Saturdays, the Vietnamese temple grounds are a wondrous display of statuary and ornament. The location would have been a fabulous experience any day, but we were also treated to spectacular weather: Clear blue sky and temps in the high 70s!

Built on a steep, wooded hillside, the grounds gave us a good workout as we climbed many staircases to eventually reach the top. All along the way were colorful, intricately decorated religious icons. Most of the ornamentation was related to nature – artificial flowers, birds, other animals – but I spotted a few mythical creatures, too. I wish I understood the symbiology and significance of the amazing sights. Stairway landings often led to small, secluded nooks, most with benches or chairs, which made sketching serene and comfortable.

I had to wander for quite a while to take it all in and decide what to sketch, which was a staggering decision! Overwhelmed by all the color and detail, I started with an icon at the very top of the grounds, which I chose because it was one of the “plainest” displays (above)!

After chatting with other sketchers and wandering some more, I eventually ended up in a studio area where congregation members were having a work party. The large space was filled with more of the colorful ornamentation I saw throughout the temple grounds. Workers were painting items that would be used for more displays.

Congregation members paint items that will be used in future displays. The space was filled with colorful florals and other ormanments.

Filling the few minutes before the throwdown, I made a small tonal study of a beautifully lighted Buddha’s face, which was a relief after trying to capture all the details in the first icon I sketched.

Many thanks to Ksitigarbha Temple for welcoming USk Seattle onto their sacred grounds as we all wandered about with our jaws hanging open in awe!


  1. Everything is so did you choose? I love the first sketch and how you simplified it. I don't think we have anything remotely like this near here.


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