Friday, July 25, 2008

WHEN I GROW UP............

I want to be a Lion Dancer! WOW, what a party they bring. Saturday night we had a reunion for the China adventurers and although it's not even been two months, one would think we hadn't seen each other for a year. It was marvelous, what a harmonious group and what a flow of love and good will.

Suffice it to say there was enough food to feed the Olympic team......(Chinese of course) ....perhaps we over estimated a wee bit but that's a good thing. Ellie and John Lynn provided tons of the very best Chinese beer (of course) and we were all happy as can be. I was a bit concerned that everyone be finished by 7:30 as that was when the SURPRISE was planned to arrive Right on the dot, there was a bumbulating on the driveway, with Sifu Thompson Chen, Chinese Martial Arts Master announcing the arrival of his Lion dance team on his gigantic copper drum. Wife Christene accompanied on the cymbals! Well, all I can say is that it was fantabulous and all 3o viewers were enchanted. After their enchanting performance on the driveway (good thing it's large) the troup went into the house and we had a photo op for all. If you want the show of all shows to delight one and all, contact Thompson at (626.399.4764). You will not be disappointed, I promise.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Better and Better

Well, the second Wednesday of the month Calligraphy class met for the first time and as with the Saturday class, everyone was enthralled and did wonderfully. This is opening up a whole new world and we are all thrilled. If you've never watched a Calligraphy master do his thing you are in for an amazing experience. Be prepared to have your breath taken away!

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Amazing World of Chinese Calligraphy

There is no doubt, judging by their Calligraphy, that the Chinese are brilliant! The images are so complex and really are word pictures. The simplest way to describe it is to say that the written language is created by mental pictures rather than definitions of words.

For example, the 'word' for landscape is made by combining the images for mountain and water. If you wish to write 'love' you would combine/connect the words for mother and child. The writing, even the very expressive running or grass style, all stem from ancient pictogram's or ideograms where a graphic 'symbol' would represent an object or idea. Through the years the symbols became more and more abstracted.

On Saturday, we had our first class with Master Calligrapher Shantien 'Tom' Chow and we were all enthralled. It was pure joy just to watch him as each class member would call out a word for him to write so they could practice copying it. This Wednesday a second group of students will have the privilege of learning this ancient skill.


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.