Sunday, August 23, 2009


Hey, why not! I already told you I stayed with two brainiacs, Hannah and James Dean while in Eugene. Mason Williams introduced me to the incomprable Dottie Chase who took me to lunch which just turned out to be with Jerry Williams and professor Alexandra Bonds. Both Fulbright scholars, Alexandra wrote 'the' definitive book on Beijing opera costumes. Her book, BEIJING OPERA COSTUMES: The visual Communication of Character and Culture is lavisly illustrated, "a thorough examination of costuming (including make-up) in traditional Beijing opera. With her extensive fieldwork in's a guide to the visual world of Beijing opera and the only book of it's kind in's very hard to conceive of it being surpassed any time soon." David Rolston, Univ. of Michigan.

Now let me tell you about the amazing Jerry Williams the most irrepressible and delightful person one could ever hope to meet. Jerry has the most reputable career in theatre design, costume design, and ceramics beginning with studying set design (alongside James Cromwell...the farmer from the movie 'Babe') at the Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh followed by graduate school at the Univ. of Washington. This outstanding advocate of the arts feels art nourishes life. "In stage design you have unity, color, contrast, variety...these components of set and stage design are also the components necessary in life"...Art is connected with the higher power. God and art are inextricably linked; when you embrace art, you embrace God as well." Beautifully put Jerry!

It was a great joy and honor to have Jerry visit my workshop at the Emerald Art Center and how wonderful to introduce him to everyone. I have to mention that Jerry presented me with a beautiful Tai silk scarf, his way of gifting friends. Oh, I neglected mentioning that Mason Williams also honored me by stopping by the workshop...what a thrill to introduce him and have him talk to the class.

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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.