Wednesday, April 30, 2008

IF IT'S TUESDAY...............

I think it's Wednesday because we lost a day at the International Dateline but it's still Tuesday to me. We are getting in so much of China that it's possible we've been here a week or two.
This A.M. our coach drove us to Suzhou which I though was a humble little village with beautiful gardens! To my surprise, it's quite the city but fortunately the gardens remain as expected. Ancient and glorious! We spent some time at the 'Humble Administrator's Garden" which is so wondrous that you will just have to see the hundred plus photos that were taken when we return home. Every step is a vision and frankly I didn't know what to place the lens upon. Finally I just did 'point and shoot' knowing everything or anything would be beautiful. I'm selecting one and also a photo of some of the ladies. I don't think we would have minded spending the entire day there but it was off to lunch and 'The #1 Silk Factory'. We had a guided tour and were able to see how those little silk worms give their all. Watching the women pull the silk from the cocoons gave full meaning to 'labor intensive'. The bell rang for shopping and all the gals went wild with gleeful abandon selecting this and that and the coach was loaded down with treasures from those little creatures. I'm including a picture of the guys pulling at a piece of raw silk which should have been expanded but frankly the ladies did better.
As we left, everyone voted for a massage. Just in case you're not familiar with a massage inSuzou, it consists of being slapped and pounded about for an hour and then paying for it!
It's just a good thing our hotel here is brand new fabulous because we all need our creature comforts at this point.

Tomorrow is May Day here! Parades! We will have a lighter day because of the holiday.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


What a wonderful way to begin our 'China Journey'. PAINTING! You can see how engrossed we all were. After that grand inspiration, fortified with lunch, we went to the Bund and were enchanted by a tea ceremony and lecture. On to the Shanghai Art Museum. Can you imagine the thrill of seeing the Ni Tsan painting I use to introduce students to 'Landscape Painting' there....right before my eyes? The art was even more meaningful because of our A.M. class at the East China University. On to dinner & an acrobatic show at the Ritz Carlton (correct) complex that left everyone gasping in amazement.

We are overwhelmed by Shanghai! It gives true meaning to 'WISH YOU WERE HERE!!!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

This and That

During class today there were suggestions that I blog during the China visit. Sounds like fun and I hope everyone will be able to follow us each day!

Our class subject today was Roses and I was really delighted when Laurie brought me the most beautiful Rose from her garden.......inspiration for all of us. At the end of class we painted Dragonflies and Butterflies just for the joy of it.

Melanie was telling me that she went on a retreat with a Zen master and then she did the most amazing painting of a very 'Zen-like' branch in strong Ink with amazing Butterflies dashing about it. So exciting to see.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Chinatown Orientation Meeting

On the 27th of April (three weeks from now!) twentyfive of us, China art lovers all, will be on our way to the home of the Gentleman Scholar 'Literati' we've studied with such admiration. Yesterday we gathered for lunch and an 'orientation' meeting at the Empress Pavilion in Chinatown. What a wonderful, compatable group........I think we enjoyed each other so much there was little talk of questions for the trip!

Bamboo, Bamboo and more Bamboo

Painting Bamboo is dynamic and empowering so you can imagine how delighted I was when the Landscape class voted to study it again! There seems to be no end to the depth's one can probe in this amazing subject and by the end of class I was surrounded by a virtual Bamboo grove........glorious.
What an honor to have the New York Philharmonic select one of my Bamboo paintings to be their logo for the recent concert tour to China and North Korea. I'm wondering if we'll see any of the posters still up and about during our upcoming visit to China. What fun that would be.


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.