Original Buddha Board review: A meditative drawing experience

There are times in life when it is okay to unplug from all technology and just relax.

I do this with books mostly and when I go fishing. 

Recently, I discovered a product that helped me disconnect in a way that seemed long overdue.

The Original Buddha Board is a revelatory product, one that I had heard about a few times before but never really considered. I am not the type that draws too often, but I have become the type who needs to disconnect from technology on occasion.

The painting board is meant to help you relax. It doesn’t plug into the wall, doesn’t use Wi-Fi, and won’t sync to your phone. Since you paint with water, it’s a bad match for electrical power or wireless technology anyway.

How does it actually work? That is a bit of a mystery. The Buddha Board allows you to paint with water. You fill a small box that also doubles as a stand, and use the included paintbrush. When you paint, the water appears on the board and eventually disappears. You can save the results if you want, by taking a picture with your phone, but that misses the point.

Amazingly, for a low-tech product that costs only $38 for the entire kit, the magic comes through when you paint for 15-20 minutes and watch as each creation disappears, usually after about one minute. That is really the main draw here. You paint, then let the results fade into oblivion. I’m not drawn to the Zen lifestyle myself, but I understand the clarity that can result when you remove all of the distractions and tech that invades our life.

The painting board is versatile in many ways. For one, you can use any clean paintbrush with bristles in addition to the one included. It’s also really versatile in terms of age. I loved using it and keeping the board in my office when I need a break from the keyboard. I could also see little kids using this and knowing what to do, as long as they don’t spill the water. I also think senior citizens would love this product, since it has absolutely no barrier to entry.

Now, would I say my artistic impressions were impressive? Not at all. I tried to paint a sunrise over a lake and it looked a bit like a car crash on a highway instead. I painted a lake with some fish in it and thought it might pass for something a third-grader would do in art class. None of that mattered. It’s the fact that I am not using tech and thinking about very little at all, painting in a room with no distractions and not using my phone — that’s the real win.

Buddha Board also makes smaller versions for “pocket painting” that also cost far less. I preferred the larger canvas. I wondered if they would ever invent a much larger version, one that is more like the size of a large picture frame. I could see someone who has actual drawing skills creating quite a complex painting.

In the end, I loved the entire experience and was surprised at myself how much I enjoyed disconnecting, thinking about nothing, and just…painting.