Sunday, June 26, 2011


…..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

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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.