Friday, June 13, 2008

Dynamic, Expresive Chinese Calligraphy

We love to paint, it's empowering and joyful but where did Chinese Brush painting come from? Why Calligraphy? Considered to be an art form of the highest order in the East! In fact, two of the subjects, Bamboo and the Chinese Orchid were the first painted subjects and began what we now understand as one of the most expressive art forms, Chinese Brush painting

So many students have expressed a desire to learn Calligraphy to enhance their artwork and deepen their understanding of Brush painting that I have determined to find the best possible teacher for us. He has been found ... Master Calligrapher and teacher Shantien 'Tom' Chow. We met this week and had a marvelous time discussing the various styles of calligraphy and the importance of introducing them to the Western art world.

Shantien has kindly agreed to teach two series of classes in my studio. The classes will be held once a month and there will be a 'first Saturday' series of six classes beginning on July 5th and a 'second Wednesday' series starting July 9th. To learn more about this and to register, click here Be sure to scroll on past the order box to see the wonderful examples.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

I'm in the Mood for MOOD SEALS

What is more addicting for a Chinese Brush painter than the collecting of Mood Seals. The wonderful shapes that enhance your work, the captivating sayings carved so skillfully into the stones. I've lost count on how many I now have but my lust is somewhat satiated by the joy of picking them out for others to own and enjoy. If you go to my website you'll see a myriad of new seals that Charles not only photographed splendidly but placed perfectly on the site. ENJOY!

A Caring Heart

My most precious memory of China is of our sweet Ellie Lynn ministering to my poor feet. After hobbling thru the Forbidden City and then the trudge to Tiananmen Square, they were beyond any capacity for carrying me further. Ellie did her best to talk me thru the long march saying things such as, "It's so much better to have someone to talk to as you walk" and "just take it a step at a time." March on I did but Ellie perceptively said, "you better come to our room tonight........I have MOLESKIN." The hours ticked by as I waited for Ellie and John to return from the Chinese Opera. Finally, they were back and I staggered to their room. Suffice it to say I have never experienced such an act of gentle, loving kindness which I will never forget. A line from Anne Lamott's exquisite book 'Traveling Mercies' comes to mind......."I let them work on me, and after a little while I thought of the sacredness of animals grooming each other. I felt the connection and the tenderness, the reciprocal healing offered by the laying on of hands."


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.