Tuesday, January 10, 2012


….was the theme for this year’s La Canada Flintridge award winning Tournament of Roses float.  This fantastic idea for the 34th self-built city float came independently from Pam Wiedenbeck, my amazing Huntington Botanical Garden’s Brush painting student and the current president, Ann Neilson.  What synchronicity!  Their artist, Jacob Maitless, did the rendering based on the concept and  “a lot of input from the peanut gallery”.

Before I show you the float, here’s the Stealth bomber flying over the house on it’s way to the Rose Parade.



In the time it took me to go from the patio to the TV in the kitchen, it was flying over the parade route.  (Maybe 40 seconds!)010

There it goes………..picture courtesy of KTLA 5.


Throughout the year, it was so much fun to have Pam tell us about the progress on the float during our Brush painting ‘lunch breaks’.


Pam built the two birds on the front of the float and about 2/3 of the cloud structure.  This was all steel pencil rod covered with window screen and a polymer coating.  The shapes are then painted and decorated.  Did I mention Pam is a terror of a welder?!!!


Pam was also the float driver.  Her training consisted in driving the bare chassis in the La Canada Memorial Day parade, two Pasadena Tournament of Roses test drives, moving the float for decorating, driving convoy to Orange Grove, driving in the parade, driving convoy home, and finally taking the float to Memorial Park in La Canada on Saturday, January 7th.  Pam told me, “It was an experience that I would repeat in a heartbeat.  However, if I never hear Frank sing ‘Come Fly With Me’ again, it will be too soon!!!”


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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.