Tuesday, October 25, 2016


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I first met Ha on October 19th when I was teaching a Brush Painting class at the Huntington Botanical Gardens  and that happened to be the day when all the exhibitors for the major orchid show, ‘ELEGANT ORCHIDS’ the coming weekend were setting up.

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Ha happened to be setting up his exhibit right outside our class room and his attention to detail completely and totally captivated me so I would sneak out from time to time to watch his progress.

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Having begun early in the morning, Ha would pay special attention to each detail, noting the placement of the exquisite driftwood he brought and making sure each orchid specimen showed itself off to best advantage.  At one point Ha modestly said he didn’t know what he was doing and I looked him straight in the eye and said, ‘You know exactly what you are doing’! and we both laughed…..Well, I was proven right by all the ribbons awarded Ha’s display and…..wait for it…..Ha won a beautiful crystal vase inscribed for the ‘BEST OVERALL DISPLAY of SHOW!’ YES!!!

From Ha:

Here are all of the trophies and most ribbons the NHOS team received at the Huntington International Orchid Show over the weekend.

On behalf of the NHOS team, I would like to extend my thank you and appreciation for all your help and contribution. 

Also we would like to thank you the Huntington Library staffs (Brandon TamGayle Brodie, ...), the AOS (George Hatfield, Arthur Pinkers, ...), the CSA, and all of our orchid's vendors and friends for making this event possible.


- Best Display in Show (by AOS judges)
- AOS Orchid Trophy (by AOS judges)
- 2nd place exhibit over 40 sqft. (by ribbon judges)
- 7 first place ribbons
- 2 second place ribbons
- 3 third place ribbons

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Ha’s amazing team!14731395 10206134956892244 2252995734811337403 n

Feast your eyes on some of Ha’s orchids….

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There are so many, many more so I would suggest you go to Ha Bui on Facebook and scroll on down to the show.

The day continued to be amazing when during class lunch break I met Daniel L. Geiger, Ph.D.,Curator of Malacology at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History who also has a Fellowship at the Huntington. Daniel was so very interesting but he might as well of been speaking Martian as it was all way, way over my head.  At one point I said, “This is so amazing there must be only 5 or 6 people doing what you’re doing.”  The reply?  "No.  I’m the only one!"

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Class as always was wonderful and I’m way beyond proud of everyone!

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After class I met another exhibitor, Doris, who is so delightful I’m counting her as a new bestie!  Doris also won 15 awards!

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Doris told me she likes to tell a story in her display and asked me to concentrate on the little black dot in the center of this small orchid.  Well, stare as I might….nothing and then…..amazingly I actually saw it….a baby bird and it’s beak!  WOW!

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May you always see the wonder in everything!


Tuesday, October 18, 2016


 ….in the Nan Rae Studio, a space that was created in 2000 in part to enrich others and to be shared by visiting artist’s.

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Perhaps none more gifted than Lissi Kaplan which was evident as we celebrated the launching of her new book, ‘LIGHT as a FEATHER’. Lissi has graced my life with her loving, caring heart and the strength of character & purpose that is her.  Lissi’s art is informed as much by her life’s journey as by her inspired love of beauty.  She’s truly a butterfly that’s emerged from a cocoon of struggle to be beautiful and glorious!

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 Everyone was enraptured as Lissi shared the story of the little wren who inspired this heartfelt story.

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 Of course it was inspiring to learn how each beautiful porcelain piece is created by Lissi. Surely you remember how I always hold up the plates she creates for the Peninsula Hotel’s High Tea.

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I also wanted Lissi to share the story of her book ‘THE POWER OF A TEACUP’!

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 Joy filled the studio…..

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A special heartfelt thank you has to go out to dear Amy at Le Jardin PrivĂ©  for creating the exquisite floral arrangements….All hand crafted with love!

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Here’s another one designed by dear Amy.

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 Is it time for tea and treats?

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How cute is this, identifying each tea!

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Sweet and savory….Scones, clotted cream, preserves,delicious cheese tarts, assorted cheeses and grapes just because.IMG 7061

 Beautiful Valerie, the real ‘Hostess with the Mostest’ gave a big thumbs up!

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 Lulu chats it up with Nancy Rossi, daughter-in-law of Fermo Rossi, a delightful student of mine from years past and one of the most amazing men who ever was.  We all miss him!

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 I’m going to sorely miss dear Lucia who is moving to Boston! Don’t know how she could part with her condo which graced the cover of Architectural Digest.  Anyway, good news is I have an open invitation to visit!

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So here’s a precious story for you.  Twelve years ago, Lucia brought Desiree, her granddaughter, to class and she had the photo's to prove it!

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Sooooo cute!

IMG 7052And here we are today!

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Trudy just made it back in time from her cruise and Junnie does a tea toast! There aren’t enough thanks or perhaps not enough words to express how grateful I am to Junnie for being our official photographer.  Note to all:  Photo’s will be mailed out shortly.

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 Delighted to see dear Kathy back from her travels!  Oh these gad-a-bouts!

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Clara and Kathy are now sisters or at least extremely close first cousins!

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 Maggie just made it back from Europe…...

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 Sweetest of the Sweet Amy with her two precious daughters, Grace and Faith.  They will absolutely charm you as no other.

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Lovely Amy also got an exquisite plate that had a very special meaning for her.IMG 7289

 When these two connected a few years back it was love at first sight.  The incomparable Lisa Bowman, dancer, singer, newscaster, writer….I think I’m leaving out a whole list but this will suffice.  Oh yes, heart song friend.

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 Thanks to Lissi’s soul mate and all around mate Doug for filming the day and for all of his help in setting up!

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Special thanks to Connor for being the very best valet ever!

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What…..it’s over?  No, let’s start all over!IMG 7320

As the sun set we lingered with the memory of a perfect day….IMG 7321

May all your days be ‘Light as a Feather’!IMG 7032


There is no avoiding the pull of the internet, the blogs, the YouTube imaginings. It's as if we're all 'On the Road' with Jack Kerouac each in our own world of meanderings. When we tell someone to 'get a life' it might be a bit difficult when you're dragged into other people's 24/7.

I've come to realize two foundational principals, there are no accidents and everyone has a purpose. More and more I'm desiring everyone to come into a full realization of their purpose as we all find our way on this little jewel of a planet.

For me, as a professional 'Western style artist', I stumbled into Chinese Brush Painting after a trip in 1980 to Monet's home/garden. Seeing all of his collection of Japanese woodblock prints was an ahh haa moment for me and when I returned to the States I started painting in the Chinese manner and never looked back. The first year was extremely painful for me as I felt that I should be able to master the technique since I was a 'trained' artist. Not a chance ... that just gets in your way.

Now, after teaching close to 3,000 students and having my book 'The Ch'i of the Brush' published by Watson Guptill, I can say that every one of my students does better their first day than I did my first year! Why? Because I insist that they leave their critical parent outside and just enjoy the journey, respecting the work that they do. I never let anyone throw anything away because that just ingrains frustration and defeat.

We really only begin to learn when we stop and figure out how to 'save' a painting. It works every time.I am so proud of my students, their receptivity and eagerness to express themselves is a continuing blessing for me.So, back to finding your purpose. Perhaps it starts with realizing 'it's not about me'. It so easy to want our needs met and to filter everything thru this attitude. When we realize that we're here to be of benefit to every life that we touch the universe really provides the ways and means.

The best part is that it's really exciting to not have yourself on your mind all the time!I'm re-reading a wonderful book about authenticity and in my next meandering I'll tell you about it. In the meantime I'd love to hear about your journey and am here to answer any and all questions about Chinese Brush Painting.