Sunday, March 30, 2008

Dragons, Crape Myrtle and Figs!

Yesterday there were eleven happy artists (twelve including myself) painting awesome Dragons, beautiful Crape Myrtle blossoms with delightful birds and to top it all off we created some 'Figalicious' Fig paintings. What fun!
I was so happy to be surrounded by truly amazing work by all. I'm so proud of my amazing students!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Garden of Flowing Fragrance

Yesterday I went to the Hunting-ton Botanical Garden in San Marino to make a delivery of my greeting cards to the Gift Shop and also to sign a new shipment of my book 'The Ch'i of the Brush'. I try to never miss a stop at the GARDEN OF FLOWING FRAGRANCE, the new and utterly captivating Chinese Garden. I know it's so very crowded but even with that, all the bustle of people wanting to see it, the experience is still breathtaking. You're immediately transported to China and the wondrous gardens in Suzhou which we'll soon be visiting.

Take special note of the first vista to the left as you enter the main portal. The Wisteria is in full bloom and the most glorious Chinese rock stands guard over a charming waterfall that sends a stream meandering to the Japanese Garden. Stop for tea and just transport yourself to another world.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Wisteria class

Spring is here and I'm delighted. All the buds are popping out, fresh green leaves showing off and longer days to enjoy it's wonderful!
When you exit the elevator that takes you to my studio, the Wisteria on the deck is beginning to bloom. Flowers, buds, new shoots everywhere and it's georgeous. I was so inspired that I decided to teach the Wisteria lesson to the class at the Huntington Botanical Gardens (in San Marino) yesterday. It worked out wonderfully as there were several new students who had not had that lesson. At the end of the day I was surrounded by beautiful Wisteria paintings done by all the students, some who had never held a Chinese brush let alone attempt a Chinese brush painting. We even did birds and butterflies!

One of the new students was a lovely young woman, Daisy, visiting from the Philippines, who amazed me by mentioning that she had purchased my book 'The Ch'i of the Brush' in the Philippines. Imagine that!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Your Question about Synthetic Brushes

What a wonderful thought Ink Dancer. To "give thanks to the animals that have given so gener-ously to help us develop our art." Your awareness of the life around you is truly profound and I can only say BRAVO!
As for synthetic brushes I really can't recomment them. They will not respond to your touch in the manner that you've become used to. So, we bow to the animals and extend our gratitude!
This is our animal Yuki, a Japanese Akita, - who fortunately had just had a bath when she decided to join us in bed.

Monday, March 10, 2008

About Brushes

That's a great question. Thank you.

A Soft brush is made out of Rabbit or Goat hair, holds a lot of water and can come in many sizes. The disadvantage is that once you complete a stroke with it, the brush has to be re-loaded as it will not keep it's shape.

The primary uses for a Soft brush are:Painting Birds breasts with one stroke.Swirling the brush and allowing it to split to form a Horse's main and tail.Doing the same to create a Goldfish tail.Painting the 'Culm' or stalk of the Bamboo.

A Hard brush such as the Large Orchid Bamboo has great resilence and you can do more than one stroke with a single loading of the brush. For example, you could do four or five Bamboo leaf strokes with one loading. Hard brushes also come in many sizes from a Fine Detail on up and they are made of Wolf or Deer hair.


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.