Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Yangshou Village in the Rain by Bonnie Schwartz

Our adventure in Yangshou Village began in the lobby of the hotel where everyone scrambled to open packed suitcases to take out boots, umbrellas and parkas as we watched the pouring rain bounce several feet in the air and clatter on the stones. When we arrived we realized that was only a sprinkle!

The intepid group traipsed down the flooded streets, ducking under stores to try keeping float. Old old lady in a blue jacket invited Elza into her house while the rest of us went to see the Chinese doctor who treated Michel's cold with large clay cylinders heated by flame and then stuck to his chest - sort of like the spines of the dragon. The doctor handed out sticks with cloth on the end to several people to cure headaches.Annie, our guide, took some of us across a bridge to a villager's home where we learned about their family traditions, ancestors and weddings. On the way we stopped at the nice wine store where a man was steaming a large cauldron of rice and and mixing it up with a shovel to ferment the rice. One scene remains vivid in my memory. While we were on the bridge overlooking pastoral views of water buffalo and horses, a little pony walked by the buffalo. At first, they had a staring contest, then the pony reared up on his hind legs, turned around and playfully bucked out at the buffalo and trotted away ... that is life in Yangshou

Memory of Guilin by Dorothy Shepherd

Fantastic dragon mountains, interesting old architecture, and everpresent building cranes symbolic of the new China.

Magpies in Guilin by Lucia Moskal

So here we are in Guilin, land of high bumpy mountains straight out of a Chinese Brush painting. One of our tour stops was at the riverside to view the Elephant Hill formation. Off in the distance across the river we could see the silouhette (sp?) of the head of the elephant with its trunk sloping to the water as though the giant animal was taking a drink from the river. There were many costumed locals we could take pictures of, or as our tour guide called them, "minorities" with silver headpieces and bright colored clothing. Eleanor Barkelew and I decided to leave the quay and climb the stairs to wait for the bus as everyone else was still taking pictures and exploring except for Nan who had also gone up to look for the bus. At the top, only a few local people were there, but neither Nan nor bus were in sight. What was going on in the middle of the square was clearly a domestic despute, very loud shouting. A Chinese woman, about 40, casually dressed, was yelling at a Chinese man, dressed in dress shirt and slacks, i.e., not a street worker. Another woman was standing by as the woman continued to screech, parrying back and forth, gresticulating within inches of the man as he stood silent. This went on for at least 10 minutes, back & forth. The scene changes when the woman left. The man just stood there. Two minutes later the women came back, the woman starting in on the man again, other people standing around not intervening. Another ten minutes of screeching, just like a group of magpies, protecting their nest, the last act in this local domestic drama.
Note from Nan: Sorry not to blog but I'm occupied as shown!

Today we are in Beijing and leave tomorrow for the Yellow Mountain; we arrive late. Weather has been perfect. Chinese unfailingly polite.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Following you every step of the way. Quite the adventure, it sounds like! Oh, the stories you'll tell! How is Michael's cold? Did the Chinese treatment help? And I want one of those headache sticks!

My love and prayers travel with you all.



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.