Thursday, June 30, 2011


I have enjoyed these books so much I wanted to share them with you!

For the legion of Lisa See fans, myself included, the sequel to Shanghai Girls is here. As always, it’s a page turner filled with so many interesting ‘factoids’ that’s you’ll not only be enthralled by the story but learn so much about China under Mao’s rule.  Don’t miss these richly drawn characters and Lisa’s vivid storytelling!

This book became #1 on the New York Times Book Review  fiction list the week it came out!!!



I am in awe of Diane Ackerman!  Her  use of metaphor, the sheer beauty of her poetic writing, and her vast frame of reference are inspiring.  Author of ‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’,’A Natural History of the Senses’ and so many more, Ackerman writes of the redemptive power of love along the journey she and her husband Paul West, also a prolific writer, found themselves on after his stroke.

Daniel Siegel, MD said of this gem of a book, “Combine the brilliant sensibility of a poet and essayist with the compelling articulation of her mindful wisdom and intense devotion and voila – you have the powerful journey into the many ways love can inspire healing after profound brain damage.”

“A gorgeously engrossing, affecting, sweetly funny, and mind-opening love story of crisis, determination, creativity, and repair.”  Booklist




If you’re like me, as you read this page turner by David Brooks, you’ll just about use up your yellow marker.  There are insightful thoughts about art and creativity that were especially relevant for me in  this brilliant ‘attempt to integrate science and psychology with sociology,  politics, cultural commentary, and the literature of success.’ (D.B.)

Brooks has invented two characters and tells their life story at the ‘level of emotions, intuitions, biases, and deep inner longings, where character is formed and the seeds of accomplishment grow.’ (D.B.)

A must read for any ‘Social Animal’!



O.K., get out the Kleenex!!!


Why are we here and what is our purpose are the questions behind this beautifully crafted story by Bruce Cameron, the New York Times bestselling author of ‘8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter”.

Iris Rainer Dart, the New York Times bestselling author of ‘Beaches’ said, “This book is a classic.  A beautiful, uplifting, tenderly told, frequently funny, and exquisitely moving story… I am awash in the tears of recognition (that) every dog lover will shed when they read this remarkable book.”

Even if you’ve never had a dog you will love this book!!!


For More Information:

David Brooks on

Monday, June 27, 2011


Here’s talented Lauren Beyeler describing using the new e-version of my lessons.

Thanks to Nikka Carrasco, my wonderful assistant, all of the Brush painting lessons listed on my website are now available in an e-version.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


…..had a champagne reception for their tea designer, the incomparable Lissi Kaplan.  Her exquisite hand painted porcelain high tea settings are also at the luxurious Peninsula Hotel.  They are so incredibly beautiful and each piece is such a work of art that you scarcely want to use them but go ahead and treat yourself …as using them is like a mini vacation to a precious world.  Another must have for yourself and as the perfect friendship gift is Lissi’s book…’The Power of a Teacup’.  This charmingly illustrated little book is about art, love and sacred gardens. Lissi’s pieces can be purchased in either hotel’s gift shop.  You can also contact Lissi directly at 



Here we are in the Montage gift shop. Carol Soucek King, Lissi and dear Carol O’Toole.


Can you tell I don’t want to let go of the teacup?



I first heard Lissi when she was a guest speaker at Carol Soucek King’s Salon on the Spiritually Creative Life…..her empowering ‘Institute of Philosophy and the Arts.



Stephen McGolden the delightful manager of the Montage gift shop.



Linda just finished wrapping my purchase!



O.K. foodies, let’s get real. Isn’t the French Laundry in Yountville absolutely the most incredible dining experience ever?  If you haven’t been, while they say they accept reservations two months in advance, all I can say is…...lot’s of luck!  The same is true for Thomas Keller’s Per Se in the Time Warner Center inside Columbus Circle.

However Bouchon, also in the Time Warner Center, is accessible and the duck pate is just about worth a trip to New York!  (Sorry vegans.) When I heard that there would be a Bouchon opening in Beverly Hills my foodie heart went pitty pat but I never got there until……………………………

………….there it was, right across the courtyard from the Montage.  I was ecstatic!



Oh my gosh.the bar, the Bouchon bar!!!!




The two Carol’s and Lissi


Happy, happy me, the two Carol’s and Lissi

For more information:


…..gave a bravura performance at the Chevy Chase Branch Library followed by a book signing.  This award winning author (Iron and Silk, The Soloist, Lying Awake), became a stay-at-home parent in 2001.  Eight years and three failed manuscripts later he suffered a nervous breakdown.  What would have been a very sad story was turned into a life altering happy ending.

Anne Lamott, author of ‘Traveling Mercies’ and one of my favorite writers called Lying Awake ‘one of the most beautiful novels about faith she’d ever read’ and the New York Times Book Review called it “A singularly rich and abundant work.”!


Mark was so kind and interested in everyone he met.  I was deeply touched by the generous and personal time he gave to all.



Pamela Tom spearheaded this appearance by Mark and if you don’t already know her, you’re missing out on a world class friendship.  Pam is the  producer/director of ‘Brushstrokes in Hollywood’* about Tyrus Wong our National Treasure.

For those of you who live in the Glendale or La Canada area, you must visit the Chevy Chase Library! It's a hidden gem nestled in the midst of beautiful and tranquil Chevy Chase Canyon in Glendale. Due to budget cuts, its programs (such as Mark's talk)  are curated and produced entirely by a dedicated group of volunteers. If you or someone you know has a talent to share (it could be leading a class, demonstration, or storytime for kids, giving a talk or book reading, presenting a special exhibition, etc.) and want to help support this lovely library, please feel free to contact Pamela at Thanks for helping keep our local libraries open!

* ‘Brushstrokes in Hollywood’ posted 10/13/2008

‘Tyrus Wong is a National Treasure’ posted 10/25/2009

Monday, June 20, 2011


of the Hycy and Howard Hill Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint Joseph Hospital in Burbank, CA. 

It was truly a red carpet affair.


Speech, speech, speech…..


I even had a delicious strawberry martini to celebrate


Coffee anyone?


Do you know why I’m so excited?


Here’s why!!!


Don’t I know you?


See, my signatures right here!


Donor’s Kay Farquhar and Gerri Dickinson


Me again…with a work I donated in the name of dear Mary Persic, a member of St. Joe’s Foundation Board


I tried to get his phone number as he’d be perfect for parties.


And the band played on.


Oh, did I mention delicious food that didn’t stop coming and the best ever chocolate dipped strawberries…Perfect!

Special thanks to my wonderful assistant Nikka Carrasco for the great photos!


…..had the most moving article by John Glionna about Pastor Lee Jong-rak a pastor in Korea who sees perfection in disabled infants.  This journey began 25 years ago when his wife gave birth to a baby so disfigured by cerebral palsy that doctors gave him mere months to live.  The child was named Eun-man which means full of God’s grace.  Eun-mans birth caused this religious man to question his faith and he asked God why he was given such a handicapped child saying he wasn’t grateful for the baby.  Because his son was helpless and beyond hope, Lee says that he witnessed the preciousness of life and this caused him and his wife to work desperately to keep the child alive.  Needing constant care the boy brought Lee closer to his faith and he entered theology school to become a Christian minister and now takes in all manner of disabled infants housing 21 at this writing.

Coincidentally, Lisa Bowman who writes wrote the following for this weeks subject…………..

“Rarely is any life without some sort of deep crisis that produces fear or anguish.  But some are forced to endure prolonged violence or war, starvation, false imprisonment, torture, and even slavery.  When we pray for strength in facing our own crises, we can also include in our prayers those who struggle to survive the unimaginable.”


…this photo was taken at the “Journey of the Imagination” exhibit. Possibly something was lost in translation as Luben initially got my book the “Ch’i of the Brush” which started his classes with me and his journey in Brush painting. Of course we use more than one brush for the entire painting! I’m soooo proud of Luben having his own line of greeting cards! Watch for great things from him!

Macedonian Tribune article

Monday, June 6, 2011


…was drawing me like bees to clover.  I had to see it!  So, yesterday (Sunday) being a perfectly delightful, sunny day, I headed off to Americana in Glendale.  The movie would start at 2:55 so that meant I had time for a leisurely lunch at Amici where I could watch all the goings on in the square.




Everyone loves the trolley!


I knew time was pressing in so I ignored my favorite place…..BARNES & NOBLE


When I got to Pacific Theatre, I was told the movie was sold out but undaunted, I insisted on purchasing a ticket…. and off I walked to  ‘theatre 13’ which was indeed completely sold out.  As I scanned the theatre, I noticed a woman slouched over a seat in the middle of the perfect row and asked her if it was taken. “No” she replied and then safely ensconced, I sat with happy thoughts of my good fortune.  What a great lesson there.

008I’m not going to review the movie save to say I loved it and I will see it again. if you love Paris I suggest you run, don’t walk, to your nearest theatre.

Since I didn’t have the time to buy popcorn I was a tad hungry afterwards so off to ‘Crums Bake Shop’ for a cupcake and then to L.A. Creamery for some salted caramel ice cream.  In other words, ‘this little piggy went to Americana and had a perfect day….singing oui, oui, oui all the way home’!

Sunday, June 5, 2011


… Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena when Carol Soucek King and I arrived…thinking we were EARLY for Lisa See’s book signing!


We were so happy to be greeted by Elizabeth Gill Lui and Betty Wang.  Elizabeth is a true renaissance woman,fine art photographer, author and educator with a graduate degree from Harvard.  When she presented me with an exquisite, limited edition of ‘SECOND WONDER’… a jewel of a book written by Keya Guimaraes,  her equally brilliant polymath daughter…. I was honored beyond words.010

People had been gathering for hours to hear Lisa See, New York Times best selling author talk about her new book ‘DREAMS OF JOY’.  As always, it was a joyful event as Lisa’s myriad of fans, myself included, eagerly await her every word.  Somehow, Lisa patiently signed close to 400 copies of her book, taking the time to inscribe something personal and meaningful in each.  She’s a wonder!


Honestly, I don’t know how she does it as this  was only the third in a series of 43 book signings across the country.  Aren’t you exhausted just reading that?


Really, the line went on FOREVER!


Receiving an official distinction award from a State Representative.

F.Y.I.  Tyrus Wong, another national treasure was there…if you’ve read my previous blogs about him (‘Tyrus Wong is a National Treasure’ posted 10/25/09 and ‘Brushstrokes in Hollywood’ posted on 10/13/2008) you know he’s now 100 and still flying his extraordinary kites once a month on the beach in Santa Monica….another not to be missed event.

I managed to wolf down a humongous slice of the famous fresh strawberry and whipped cream cake from Phoenix Bakery.

For more information:

google Tyrus Wong

Saturday, June 4, 2011


………………honestly now, is anything better than a grilled cheese sandwich with bacon, tomato and a ton of butter?  If there is…let me know.


Thursday, June 2, 2011


….you’ll love reading the San Marino Patch.  The ‘Patch’ covers all the goings on in San Marino and also features work of writer Grace Farag, who has a column every week featuring events and exhibits at The Huntington Botanical Gardens.  Grace phoned me a couple of weeks ago saying that she wanted to do an article about the Brush Painting classes I’ve taught for so many years at the Huntington.  We had such a delightful conversation that I invited her to my studio and she was able to visit yesterday when, not surprisingly, we had the best time!


If you have a company or an idea that you want fleshed out, Grace is definitely your person….she is such a talented writer who can make ANY subject beyond interesting….even captivating.


You can contact Grace at

You can check out the article she wrote about my Brush Painting classes at the Huntington at

The San Marino Patch can be found on where you can also read about the going’s on in other areas of the country


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.