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!



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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.