Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Came Early ...

... in the studio last Saturday. Everyone was gathered around my table with big smiles to greet me and they gave a joyous shout of Merry Christmas! There were hugs all around and then it was time to paint. We had a wonderful day sharing various treats with Christmas music playing; we painted and partied and trust you did the same!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


...and all thru L.A.

I wondered and wondered

how best to convey...

wishes and wants and my whole laundry list

straight to the source of good old St. Nick!

On Dasher, on Dancer head straight to the door

of Valerie and Eugene's and search no more.

For there in the house all twinkling and bright

is all that you'd want to do Christmas just right!

Carolers were strolling in their costumes so fine
as guests were treated to find food and good wine!

Presents galore for each lucky guest

and finally my wish for St. Nick was at rest!

Phyllis, Valerie & yours truly with Vicki & Carol

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Tyrus Wong.  Erik Friedl sent me this link and you will enjoy every moment of it.  Using a 2,000 year old kite making process, Tyrus forms a Centipede and then we see it flying.  This is definitely a must watch.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


…to order our Thanksgiving turkey, we stopped at Virgil’s Hardware (they’ve been in Glendale forever and have everything).

We parked at the door and were about to get out when we saw the most amazing sight ever…a big black mutt of a dog  carrying his leash in his mouth as he followed his owner!  Well, you really had to be there…we sat laughing so hard and thinking “this is a great movie scene”.

Later at check out, there was the dog, doing his best beg for cookies from the check out woman who apparently had been thru this routine many times before.  Just like Yuki, he jumped up, placing his huge paws on the counter and wolfed the treat down, then another, and another…….finally it was time to go and the owner said “gather up” and the dog did exactly that, placing the entire leash in his mouth.  What Charles loved the most was that the owner said “It was his idea”!

Friday, November 13, 2009

THE KATRINA DOLPHINS: One Way Ticket to Paradise

What an amazing tale of courage, survival and hope was told to ‘The Tuesday Reading Group’. a-123

Marion Jones &Marky Allen

hosts of the event at the Valley Hunt Club










Vanya Rohner,Halla Aguirre,Georgeanne  Irvine & her sister Ginger Bernard

After a lovely luncheon, we heard guest speaker Georgeanne Irvine, author of over 20 books, relate the mesmerizing journey of the dolphins from the Marine Life Oceanarium in Gulfport, Mississippi.  These beautiful mammals were shockingly washed into the Gulf of Mexico when a wall of water caused by Hurricane Katrina flooded their home.  Nearly two weeks later Elijah, Jackie, Jill, Michelle, Kelly, Tamra, Toni and Noah were discovered by search helicopters and then the massive rescue effort began.




Carol Soucek King & speaker Georgeanne Irvine



We sat on the edges of our chairs as Georgeanne told this wondrous story and later I was thrilled to purchase her magnificent book which details in enthralling words and magnificent pictures this hard to believe, miraculous tale.

a-121 Oh, you’ll be thrilled to know the dolphins are happily at play in their new home ‘Aquaventure’, The Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas!

This book, ‘THE KATRINA DOLPHINS’ would be  a wonderful Christmas present!  (It’s on display in my studio.)

a-120 Special thanks to lovely Anna Bjorn for her photographs.  Anna specializes in graphic design and residential photography. You can reach her

You can make a difference: for book info

Sunday, November 8, 2009


was treated to a real ZEN experience when Master Calligrapher Shantien ‘Tom’ Chow IMG_4804 painted two large scrolls on the floor of the studio’s reception area.  We were all mesmerized as Tom first wrote five Zen words.   Zen, Bed, Dream and Beautiful Lady.  When combined, the meaning is ‘A Zen Monk Dreams of a Beautiful Lady while Sleeping’.  The meaning is open to interpretation as it could suggest that Zen Buddhism is not about dogma or rules, but more concerned with true human nature and accepts reality as it is.

IMG_4797 The second scroll was a free and large interpretation of the word ‘TIGER’.  Using a huge Goat hair brush and expansive strokes, Tom perfectly captured the power and vigor symbolized by this character.  We were all enthralled and you can see both videos for yourself on

Special thanks to Charles L. DeMille who filmed this event for us.  Charles especially appreciated seeing Tom’s meditative approach in preparing the necessary materials.


Tom explains his robe.




Cookie Time Out








Inspired Will Mc Gaul and his marvelous calligraphy

Sunday, November 1, 2009


for the benefit of ‘MY FRIEND’S PLACE’ and ‘LOS ANGELES YOUTH NETWORK’. IMG_4757 Jana and hubby Ivan Tether (who’s on the board at My Friend’s Place) first told us about this wonderful organization that provides a safe haven for homeless youth in Hollywood.  Their mission is to assist and inspire homeless youth (of which there are so many) to build self-sufficient lives.  I do hope you will click on their website that I’ll list below!

IMG_4704 What a grand time we had beginning with the ‘adorable greeter’s who showed us the way to the VIP dining section on the Santa Monica Pier.  Then it was on to the Grand Chapiteau for KOOZA, this year’s Cirque extravaganza another not to be missed of their shows.



IMG_4701  Mom went with us and we felt like three kids as this show definitely delivers the WOW factor!

For More Information:

Thursday, October 29, 2009


…it’s a grand celebrational, simply sensational PARTY!  You can imagine my delight in being included as I actually had the day clear (O.K., so maybe I did play hooky).

Back to the party…the Athena Circle invited the foremost designers in Los Angeles to interpret ‘A Festive Holiday Table’ at the California Club.  Lunch was yummy and Valerie’s table was a joy to experience.  As usual with Valerie, you never go home empty handed so our table was treated to beautiful crystal vases by Geary’s, a special CD honoring Michael Jackson (leave it to V. to find such a thing) and the cutest Halloween stuffed bears that I tried in vain to hide from Yuki.IMG_4769 We’re ready to party!

The guest speaker was Suzanne Tucker who gave a power point lecture on her new book, ‘Rooms to Remember’.  All I could think of was Carol Soucek King’s amazing design oriented books from ‘Empowered Spaces’ in ‘93 to ‘Unique Homes’ in 2006.  Next time you’re in the studio be sure to see my treasured books.


It was a special treat to see the ‘Table Top’ designed by Tommy Farmer as he did the exquisite flowers for our wedding.  Carol remembers we had an added touch of guests releasing live butterflies!



Carol & Valerie, Yours truly, Vanessa, Valerie’s beautiful and talented daughter & Shelly Ann Marks in from Houston


Almost stealing the spotlight was Kennedy, the adorable Yellow Lab puppy with his little ‘puppy in training for Guide Dogs of America’ jacket, letting us all know a most important job awaited him.

IMG_4786  Kellie Brimberry said it’s really hard to give these amazing dogs to their intended owners. (No surprise there.)  F.Y.I. Captain Sully Sullenberger the 3rd has been fostering these doggies for years and you can read all about him and the puppies on their website. Be sure to check out the puppy cam videos.

IMG_4782 Woops, alert, alert, dog napper sighted!

For more information:

Google Tommy Farmer

Sunday, October 25, 2009


and Sunday, Oct. 25th is his 99th birthday! To celebrate, a group of IMG_4736relatives, friends and admirers gathered at the Santa Monica beach (at the north end of the pier) to watch Tyrus and his lovely hand-made kites. (This amazing experience happens the 4th Saturday of each month.)




It wasn’t windy enough for the many sectioned butterfly kite to take wind but the Panda bear was just light (and cute) enough!

Tyrus and his kites were featured in a short film ‘Flights of Fancy’ and you can see why. Some are over 100 feet and there are flocks of swallows, butterflies, centipedes and more, all lovingly hand painted.

IMG_4719Tyrus, Pam Tom & excited me

Pamela Tom is the Director/Producer of the nearly completed full length documentary “Brushstrokes in Hollywood: A Portrait of Tyrus Wong”.


How cute is this…Tyrus with daughter Kim and adoring fans




One of Tyrus’ ground breaking exquisite illustrations for the classic animated film Bambi.

You should know that although it’s nearly finished, “Brushstrokes in Hollywood” still very much welcomes and DEPENDS on our (tax deductable) contributions and support in order for it to be completed.

For more information and to support: 

Did you know that the Santa Monica pier is the end of Route 66?


Friday, October 23, 2009


IMG_4632I’ve been teaching Brush Painting workshops at the  Pasadena Convention Center since the inception of these great shows.  It’s always great fun as artists come from all over the country to learn new techniques from the various instructors and find out about all the amazing art materials the vendors have for sale…and I do mean ‘sale’!

IMG_4628Special love and thanks go out to Stacey for doing such a magnificent job of organizing and getting all my ‘stuff’ there!

Sunday, October 18, 2009


IMG_4649Rolls-Royce that is … so Paul Rusnak threw a little party for 1,000 of his closest friends to unveil one of them Saturday night.  It turned out to be a magical evening held on Spartacus Square, European Square & streets and the Court of Miracles … all on the Universal Studio’s back lot! IMG_4662

The 2010 Rolls-Royce Ghost was ‘unveiled’ by two beauties aided by Miss California.  You could actually hear the drum beat of all the palpitating hearts.


I just want  the retracting ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’ statuette. (hood ornament)

There was also an unveiling for the 2010 Jaguar XJ “experience the beauty…feel the exhilaration”…but all I was feeling at that point was pangs of hunger as we stood in one of the four lines of starving souls waiting for prime beef, et al.

  Did I mention the Porsche 2010 Panamera?  A four seater…imagine … what’s the world coming to?  we were told to “Drive into a new dimension”…well, O.K.IMG_4674

Paul Rusnak, and Us

IMG_4686To top it all of there was a glamorous runway show in Spartacus Square of the Kevan Hall ‘spring’ fashions.  Tres chic!!

When we came home it was time to relax on the patio with one of the Cruzan cigars from ‘Cigars by Chivas’.  Oh please, that was Charles!!

A Very Nice Party! Thank You

For more information:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I’m speechless (well almost) as it’s not easy describing IMG_4611 the ‘love feast’ dedication of the Valerie and Eugene Hoffman ‘Cafe and Waterfall’ at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center on Sunday.

invite-fountain A clue to how marvelous it would be was when we received the invitation created by renowned artist Gayle Garner Roski.

Grateful for valet parking, we munched on delicious yummies and imbibed just a bit…what a convivial group.  Carol Soucek King (Salon on the Spiritually Creative Life) gave the introduction and left no doubt that she’s a STAR of the first order as she described the amazing, multitalented and beautiful Valerie and her dear Eugene…philanthropist’s extraordinaire!

For a perfect ending, Dr. Richard King had us all say his wonderful native American prayer:

Do all the good you can,

In all the ways you can,

With all the means you can,

To all the people you can,

As long as you can.



Shelly Ann Marks, in from Houston for the event (Charles thought I was talking with Rachael Zoe)


Valerie thought of everything …IMG_4620 including the grand entrance by Traveler!


Dr. Richard King, Carol Soucek King, Elaine Adams (Ex. Dir. of The California Art Club and wife of the brilliant plein air IMG_4623painter Peter Adams), artist Gayle Garner Roski

For more information: Trooper-at-Fountain

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


and wondering just low long it’s been since you’ve been to a real tea party with ALL the accoutrements?  Scones of course with clotted cream, lemon curd and various jams.  Fresh fruit and lovely little tea sandwiches…the favorite being cucumber but curried chicken was a close second.  All of these delightful treats were served on exquisite china, hand painted by our beautiful hostess and artist extraordinaire, Lissi Kaplan who is also the author of  ‘The Power of a Teacup’..  Lissi’s work has been commissioned far and wide  most notably here in Los Angeles where the 5 star Peninsula and Montage hotels serve their low (afternoon) teas on it.


‘Pinkies up’ everyone!


Valerie Hoffman and daughter Vanessa McLean, Lisa Bowman and Kristin visiting from Hawaii with  Lissi Kaplan

For More Information:  (Lisa Bowman’s amazing site)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


…is quite a fascinating thing to do!

Felicia (daughter of Dee Dee, my sweet and precious friend from grade school) and her sister-in-law flew in from Pleasanton for a one day Brush painting class and brought a captivating scroll !!!


Mary and Felicia


Me and Dee Dee


The Insightful Scroll

I couldn’t get the words out of my head and then one day I noticed a branch starting to appear from a Cymbidium that has bloomed months ago.


Each day the branch grew farther & farther and then buds started to appear then slowly, one by one, they unraveled their beauty.

When I can fully wrap my mind around this I’ll let you know…in the meantime…



Saturday, September 5, 2009


…is how our server described the cuisine at ‘PALATE’ the most amazing Glendale restaurant (on Brand) we stumbled upon.  (Octavio Becerra is the chef/owner and you might remember him from Splichal’s Patina Group.)

We suspected we were in for a real treat upon hearing that the butter was churned ‘in house’ as well as the meats being cured there.  Every element of the meal was truly sublime and an added treat was going to the back room (also crowded) to check out the communal dining area with it’s marvelous wine store.  You can also buy some really yummy cheese as well!



In case your wondering, the service was impeccable right down to the attentive valet service.


For More Information: Palate Food Wine

Friday, September 4, 2009


…because you really had to see this one.

Mom and I were  going to see ‘Monty Python’s SPAMALOT’ at the Ahmanson Theatre and I was surprised and delighted to find a wonderful parking spot right next to the 3rd level escalator.  Well, the surprise was on me as the escalator was out of order!  What to do…people were milling about and most climbed the stairs.

“Wait mom…I have an idea…let’s ask one of the parking attendants to get a wheel chair for you.”  Better than that, we commandeered a little cart that sat two plus driver (tightly) and off we went when out of the corner of my eye I spotted a real gem.  You know, the sort of contraption you see people riding around the golf courses  that seat at least four!  Hey, let’s take that one… and off we went.  One driver, mom, one attendant and myself sailed out of the parking lot onto the main street, drove to the corner turned right…up a block and right again to the valet section of the Music Center.  What should await us but two young men with wheelchairs!  With mom safely ensconced in her chair I’m thinking…it’s 101 degrees and we’re still a block away, the show starts in three minutes and so into the second chair I plopped.  Off we went and I shouted “Let’s race…come on…we’ll win!”  Do you know we were not only wheeled into the Ahmanson but taken to the elevator…real red carpet treatment!  It was amazing and the funniest thing ever (well almost.)spamalot

Oh…back to Spamalot…it’s the most irreverent hysterical show ever and we were seated the moment it started!

For More Information:


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.