Sunday, May 31, 2009


…is that you have a friend as loving, thoughtful and generous as Valerie Foster Hoffman, a combination of Auntie Mame, Pearl Mesta and Mother Teressa with a big dollop of St. Francis of Assisi!

Starting with the beautiful invitations Valerie sent out for the memorable birthday party she was planning for me, each detail became more and more amazing.

Pictures were taken of all arriving guests (no autographs please) and exquisite picture frames were our place markers.  What a convivial group all combining to make a true love feast.

Mom and Valerie


IMG_4258 To enter Valerie’s garden is to stumble upon Paradise and that is where we had our alfresco luncheon. Here is just one of the beautiful tables.


img_cakeCouldn’t we just have one candle?  This brought new meaning to the term killer chocolate cake.  It was delightful to hear that there had been a ‘cake tasting’ the week before.



Josie, Valerie’s amazing chef kept the champagne flowing!


Valerie made sure everything was perfect!IMG_4264


You have to see Prince Emanuel, Valerie’s ‘rescue’ doggie…he was in a sorry state when she got him but boy, look at him now!!!  Didn’t I tell you she has a real streak of St. Francis!



Sunday, May 24, 2009


Everyone is getting more and more creative in Shantien ‘Tom’ Chow’s calligraphy classes here in the studio.

Melanie Campbell painted a calligraphic Zen ‘circle’ which is a Zen meditation and brilliantly combined it with the saying…’Drink Your Tea’! I just love it and love looking at it.


Drink your tea slowly and reverently,

      as if it is the axis

  on which the earth revolves

   -slowly, evenly, without

  rushing toward the future;

   -Live the actual moment.

    Only this moment is life.

            -Thich Nhat Hahn


When the amazingly talented and simply wonderful Molly Siple phoned with two tickets to the opera (thanks to Peter Adams) she said that she knew I’d be the most fun to go with.  And what opera is that pray tell?  Why five hours of fun and frivolity otherwise known as Wagner’s laugh a minute ‘Die Walkure’.

We had a grand start at the California Club which got us shuttled right to the Music Center with no parking to deal with and it was only upward from there.

Five hours passed like 2 and we were enthralled throughout.  We loved the staging by Achim Freyer because it was so symbolic and imaginative and kept us busy figuring out what everything meant as Wagner’s myth was truly represented as a myth and not meant wagnerfor traditionalists.

Did I mention Molly is brilliantly clever?  For the beyond description birthday bash given for me by Valerie Hoffman (more on that later), Molly gifted me with ‘Decoding Wagner’ by Thomas May.  All you would need to know plus two full length BMG Classics CD’s. Ride on Walkure’s, ride on!

Here’s Hildegard Lindsay, Molly, Valerie and yours truly…


Friday, May 1, 2009


After four printings and six years, I was able to purchase the rights to my book ‘The Ch’i of the Brush’ from Random House.  Little did I dream that ‘self’ publishing would be so very complicated and might I add expensive.  It made me appreciate Watson-Guptill all over again!

After obtaining the ‘files’ I found out that the size of the book had to be modified by 1/2 inch to conform to the specs. of Lightning Source’s file setup requirements.  (Lightning Source in Tennessee was chosen because they offer ‘Full Distribution Services.) That meant going to  Bookcovers in Florida to reformat and then proof reading every page both at the file modification stage and then again when Lightning Source received the files to make sure margins hadn’t ‘moved’ and that the pagination was correct.  (Wow, the words you learn!)  Next came the Library of Congress# and the ISBN# which both had to be changed.

book-cover The whole process was much more complicated than expected or described here but after several months it all came together and we are now on with the new edition.  Charles is sending the PDF to Amazon so that you can ‘look inside the book’ as on the Watson-Guptill edition.  EVERYTHING IS THE SAME and I’m delighted with the end result.

If you have the book and if it’s been of help to you, a review on Amazon would be soooooo appreciated!  Just click on the second listing for the book.

For more information:


…are the most delightful, receptive group and doing a workshop there is the  most fun imaginable.  This time the subject was ‘Landscape’ and armed with a 39 page lesson we set forth on our journey. IMG_4178

With our objective in mind… to finish our subject by the end of the workshop… we wandered thru rocks and trees, mountains and mists!  Great fun, especially since all the work at Nickelodeon is now done on computers, it was time to happily paint!!!IMG_4191

It would have been perfect if ‘Sponge Bob’ had signed up but alas, he was a no-show.  Maybe he’ll appear for the ‘Wisteria class’ this summer.IMG_4196

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.