Tuesday, February 10, 2009


...from Gretchen Thompson who said that she and four others wished to present a dear friend with a gift to an artist's studio...mine...as the friend had a great interest in Chinese Brush painting. So, six of them would be coming to the studio on February 8th at noon. I thought, that would be just fine as dear Peggy and John were not scheduled for that time frame. Oh silly me... but not to worry, Charles had the inflatable bed stashed away and was off to the airport with them by 11:30. Everything does work out!

When the ladies pulled up, the birthday girl still had no idea why she was here. The first thing she noticed was the large scroll I painted that is hanging in the entry. "Well" says I, "that could be a big clue". (Since it had been raining they had to use the front door instead of the elevator or take the path to the stairs.)

After a brief walk thru downstairs (especially pausing for the view which had suddenly become amazing) we went to the studio. My brief talk about the history of Brush painting leads always to information about brushes, mood seals, Ink and of course a bow to having a calligraphy scroll dedicated to our China trip 'Journey of the Imagination' and explaining all the wonders of such an extraordinary culture.

Now, are you ready to be totally amazed? Carol belongs to a book club that my student, wonderful Leslie Robin, belongs to and has been hearing about Brush painting classes that Leslie loves, (along with our trip to China), and here Carol was in the very same teachers studio! Six degrees of separation!

Does anyone have a brush?

Imagine this...

And here we have the 'bone stroke'.

Carol Greenstein, the birthday girl, paints surrounded by delighted friends!

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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.