Wednesday, November 26, 2008


as they say, "at the end of the day" ...

Stacey had accomplished the impossible ... assembling and decorating the Christmas tree in the downstairs entry.

Now before you say, 'bah humbug' permit me to give you a little background on this task. Just getting the tree and all the ornament boxes out is a major task.

The tree (plastic/pre-lighted) is kept in a very big, very heavy box and fitting the pieces together so all the lights work is no small task. Patience is the #1 requirement.
Now for the creative part....who better than Stacey to do a magnificent, artistic job ....flourishes that I could only dream of. She even made beautiful bows from assorted holiday ribbons to fill in the 'empty'(where?) spots.

Since this was her second tree trimming experience after major advice from hubby Joe, she could now be in the...don't try this, I'm a professional class.

All we have to do now is keep Yuki from thinking this is one big doggie toy!

Monday, November 24, 2008


It was most strange, something like burning paper, just in the living room. Did I burn some pre-Thanksgiving dish? We searched and searched ... nothing but this strong smell of burning paper. O.K., call the fire department!

The sirens were coming closer, would the massive engines make it up the hill, would they be able to park, would they discover the source of our anxiety? We were told to get everyone out of the house ... at the time the nose count was seven for lunch plus one 95 pound fluff named Yuki! Charles grabbed the dog, I grabbed the guests and out we went.

What heros our firemen are. Have you seen up close all the garb they have to wear? And the hatchets, the odds and ends they have strapped to their belts ... don't forget the handy portable fire extinguisher.
I couldn't miss anything so back into the house I went, followed by everyone including the dog and round and round we all paced, sniffing. Even Yuki was sniffing!

Nothing ... out came the strange device with which they can point to ANYTHING to see if it registers HEAT! ... NOTHING.

Up to the studio they trudged ... nothing. Downstairs ... nothing. O.K. we're all relieved but as they were exiting, one very, very smart fireman lifted a cocktail napkin off a glass table next to the window...waved it about and said, "I always carry one of these about when we can't find anything." We all laughed and sighed with relief...the napkin had been burned on one side!

How could this be? Well, for all you Boy Scouts out there, when you're in the wilderness you know how to start a campfire. Two sticks rubbed together or by pointing the sunbeam through a glass sphere into something flammable. Who knew?

Sunday, November 23, 2008


I know, I know, we grumble about seeing Christmas decorations going up BEFORE Thanksgiving but honestly, I HAD TO DO IT!

Thanks to Stacey Rosenbaum (who got her tree trimming advice from hubby Joe) the tree was up in the studio with all the toys scattered about in time for Saturday's class.
So, with Christmas CD's joyfully playing everyone was caught up in the festive atmosphere and inspired to create their holiday cards!

Charles now has his assignment...scanning the wonderful images which will delight all recipients.
Ho, Ho, Ho!


Thursday, November 13, 2008


Besides being a joyously loving, caring person, Carol O'Toole is a gifted fine artist so when the invitation to see her work at the SGFAA Gallery opening reception arrived we marked the date in red! The members of the San Gabriel Fine Arts Association were exhibiting their paintings of the San Gabriel Mission and I was thrilled to see that all of Carol's lovely paintings had red sold stickers. No surprise there.

Here I am with the 'Sold Out' artist.

Carol O'Toole, Alfred Tse her teacher and you know who. Guess who's the Chinese Brush Painter!

It was a delightful surprise to see lovely Alison Slattery, also one of the Pasadena Jr. Phil's, which brought back many wonderful memories.

For more information:


We asked Alfred Tse for a restaurant recommendation and he suggested 'Mission 261' on South Mission Drive. It's right across the street from the wonderful San Gabriel Mission.

Along with the Mission, the historic building housing the restaurant is worth a trip to San Gabriel. Besides, it's a charming little 'arty' community. Walking in, past the arcade of amazing Bouganville, probably as old as the Mission, we entered to find a wedding party in full swing. For those of you who were on our amazing trip to China, you'll appreciate hearing about the huge framed photograph of the bride and groom (on an easel) that greeted us along side the very same happy couple.
We were wisked away to an inner courtyard where we quickly discoved that amongst the 800 or so people (three wedding parties) we were THE ONLY NON CHINESE. Everyone looked at us as if we had taken the wrong turn on the road somewhere.
It's worth a trip to '261' to see the grapevine in the center of the open air patio where we were seated all by our lonely selves. Planted over a hundred years ago, it's probably 30 feet high and had clusters of beautiful purple grapes. Heavenly!!!

Ordering was again just like being in China and the menu was certainly not Panda Inn variety. I was salivating for Peking Duck and Charles being the kind hearted gentleman that he is went along. Soup is always a big winner with me and here we encountered our first problem as Charles understood it to come in two small bowls which would have been perfect. The Olympic sized bowl that arrived had us shall I say, overwhelmed? Ordering vegetables is not an easy matter. Again, no mixed veggies as at the Panda, no, you get one pick and again Charles wanted brocolli. The waiter seeing a Chinese 'Gringo' informed us that it was 'Chinese' brocolli. "Fine" says C.P. When it arrived we thought it was all the C. Broccoli in San Gabriel!
Now I have to tell you that I LOVED the Peking Duck. Poor C.P. was not so inclined even with all my encouraging to "here, you must try the's wonderful". Well, let's remember that duck's are fatty little creatures and that was just too much for Charles as he declared the whole meal to be "perfectly awful!" (Up all night to prove it.) Remember, he subsisted on rice only throughout China!
Well, we (I) did our best. Considering that there was enough food for eight people (the duck even had four that's some duck!) there was quite a bit remaining. We were given the check and NO FORTUNE COOKIES. Don't be surprised. Did you ever see one in China?
For more information:

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Scotty, do not beam me up. I have been transported and think perhaps I'll stay a while.

Where have I been for so long? Certainly not in Silver Lake for it is a magical kingdom. To quote Wikipedia, "There's a bohemian vibe and neighborhood feel with an eclectic gathering of hipsters and the creative class." Robert D. Putnam, author of "Bowling Alone," which is about the loss of community in American life, has most certainly not been to Silver Lake. This little enclave contains some of the most famous modern architecture in the United States, a Schindler house, Richard Neutra's galore and many more.

When Molly Siple invited me to lunch at her Silver Lake home I was totally unprepared for what would greet me. In this charming old neighborhood of winding streets & amazing residences you get a sense of community that perhaps is found only in Europe.

Entering Molly's front door I glimpsed 'It' floating before me. There it was, Silver Lake, dotted by a flock of white seagulls & what I was told is a Snowy Egret who now owns the place.

Stepping onto Molly's deck I thought, "Is this a Mediterranean villa I've entered?"

You can see Molly in front of her amazing vista with 'Ginger'...lucky cat. (Winston too, who is also a precious rescue.)

Allow me to rhapsodize about lunch but first I should tell you that Molly is an award winning author of too many books to list. O.K., a couple...'Eating for Recovery', 'Healing Foods for Dummies', Low Cholesterol Cookbook for Dummies', 'Recipes for Change', 'Delicious Way to Better Health' and on and on. It's like being invited over to Julia Child's (and did I mention Molly is the recipient of a J.C. award?) So, here is this best selling nutritionist and best selling author making ME lunch! Oh heavenly repast.

Here's Molly in the 'test' kitchen Victor built for her (#1 kitchen is upstairs) and here is the fantastic retro-fitted stove. Love it!

I was served 'Bouibaisse' and what better to have on a Mediterranean villa. A beautiful salad, French bread and delicious marinated olives that I'll tell you about in my next posting.

Because we both adore New York there was N.Y. cheesecake for desert with grand coffee.

Here's my gracious hostess serving our salad.

Oh, as if all this isn't enough, Molly is an accomplished artist, member of the California Art Club and a regular contributor to their newsletter as well as American Artists, Southwest Art and many more.

Driving home, past Silver Lake there were dog walkers galore...a perfect sight to end a perfect day.
For more information about Molly: and also Google Molly Siple
And, be sure to Google Silver Lake architecture


After my most excellent adventure, Molly Siple sent me to 'Mario's Italian Deli', in Glendale on Broadway, to get the most amazing marinated olives. I had devoured them at lunch and needed a fix right away!

We both love visiting the open air markets in other countries and the special 'gourmet' shops around the world. Molly promised that stepping into Mario's would do the trick...and it did. The cheeses, the meats, oh I swooned. Containing myself, I just got the yummy green marinated olives, some mild sopressata and two pints of Gelatto (chocolate of course and strawberry). All's right with the world.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Institute for Philosophy & the Arts'-Salon on the Spiritually Creative Life

Some twelve years ago, Carol Soucek King had a dream of creating an 'interdisciplinary forum to inspire by showing the interconnectedness of all life'. The salon on "The Spiritually Creative Life" was thus born and has been held monthly at the extraordinary home she shares with husband Richard King. It has been my great joy and privilege to speak at two of these sessions.

In October, Qingyun Ma, Dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Southern California, was the inspiring speaker who shared his vision for a contemporary architecture based on four principles:
1. If architecture is a form of knowledge for which ideas are the essential purpose, then architecture is more about ideas than materials.
2. Human beings are identified and unified by the ideas they have; as human beings develop and evolve, so do ideas. The quality of ideas is in the advancement of human consciousness and interaction.
3. The idea has to be beautiful because beautiful things urge people to look toward the future with optimism and romanticism.
4. Beautiful things make us want to share and therefore to give to others. Therein lies the essence of architecture, a beautiful architecture.

After Dean Ma's inspiring and inciteful talk, there was a lively question and answer period sparked most dramatically by the amazing Julius Schulman. What can I say about the most iconic architectural photographer of the 20th century...most famously the Pierre Koenig Case Study House #22. He's a visionary photographer of the work of the greatest architects including Richard Neutra and John Lautner. To make the event even more delightful, there was a delicious birthday cake for Julius' 98th birthday!!!
Our beautiful, loving hostess Carol Soucek King, Dean Ma, Richard King and Rosanne Sachson celebrate Julius Schulman's 98th birthday!

Valerie Hoffman gives a big birthday hug to Julius. When the saying, 'if you want to get something done, give it to a busy person' was thought of, I'm sure someone just like Valerie was the templet. She is awesome and I've yet to find anything she cannot do and that perfectly.

For more about the 'Salon' go to
and be sure to Google Carol's biography to learn more about her amazing books on home design. They truly are the best and cover every aspect...I have been a fan since 'Empowered Spaces' and treasure my extraordinary collection of the books that have followed. They are truly 'art' books extrordinaire!

Also, be sure to google Julius Schulman to learn more about this national treasure.


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.