Recently, I had an interview with a prolific and inspiring mural painter who is the lead designer of murals for 10 temples in Thailand. I find his works pleasant and charming. Some are quite meaningful and many of them have a revealing sense of humor. In general, mural paintings of most temples in Thailand are made by local artists who study the old Thai traditional patterns and story of the Buddhism for a long time. Although the painting styles that we see are quite similar, mural painters may attempt to add their own unique touch to the work while avoiding anything inappropriate and disrespectful to the temple.
As an arts interviewer, I used to visit many murals in temples I found that mural artists must be strong, very patient and very careful during their work.
Thanapol Yothajak was born in Nakorn Si Thammarat in the South of Thailand. One of his exotic works is in Wat Kua Mhung temple in Saraphi District, Chiang Mai. On this occasion, I would also like to present one of his masterpieces in Chachoengsao Province.Eastern Thailand.
Here is an interview with him.
JY: What is your perspective on working on mural paintings?
TY: I think it is very rewarding to work on murals for temples. It provides good work and steady income for all of us on my team. I consider this to be the way of making merits and showing people the beauty of mural arts that depict the stories of Buddhism and traditional ways of life. Patrons can purchase a sponsorship of a particular mural with donation money for the temple and then their names will be shownas a public mural painting that everyone can look at with admiration.
JY: Tell me about your team and past projects.
TY: For more than seven years I've had a team of professional mural painters, called: “Khon Khien Boad” (mural painters for temples). As of today, there are 10 temples in Thailand that I worked on as lead designer, including:
- Luang Poh Toh temple and Bang Chalong temple in Samut Prakan Province.
- Areerat temple, Klong 31 temple, Klong 24 temple and Chedi Thong temple in Nakorn Nayok Province.
- Kua Mhung temple in Chiang Mai Province.
- Talae Pattana temple in Kamphaeng Phet Province.
- Ratrangsan temple in Krabi Province.
- Pohtaram temple in Chachoengsao Province.
JY: What about your art education background?
TY: I received a degree in Design from Nakorn Si Thammarat Art & Craft College in Nakorn Si Thammarat Province in the South of Thailand. When I was 27 years old, I went to learn mural painting art for four years from Nittaya Sakcharoen, a female mural painter who was respected and received excellent awards. After that I started my own team in 2010. From then on, my main career is as a mural painter for temples.
JY: What are your concerns about your mural painting career?
TY: Mural painting is truly hard work but it is rewarding for me in many aspects. Although traveling is a good thing, sometimes moving to different places forces you to be distant from your home and family in order to earn a living. One thing I like to mention here is that mural painting is often a thankless job since not many people are interested to know the identity of the artist or artists. After we finish a job in one place, we have to leave our work behind and move to a new location.
Any obstacle cannot stop us if we are determined enough and success will come to us eventually. The work of all mural painters including the “Khon Khien Boad” team requires much patience and is dauntless; as I said before, mural painting is so arduous. Sometimes I and my team need to work all day and night with little or no rest or sleep. Most temples have high walls and ceilings so we have to climb the scaffolding to reach the painting area. In addition, every day it is normal for us to walk past the cemetery during the night, so the fear of ghosts and danger is unimportant.