Friday, July 5, 2013


……to create a scroll for Bonnie and Charlie’s Tatami Room.  Now this is no small assignment as the scroll, being site specific, was to be the only ‘adornment’ in the room and had to convey:

A sense of peace……..

harmonious with it’s surroundings…..

bringing nature in…………

while remaining timeless.

Bonnie reminded me that they had to wait quite a long time to receive it but for me I knew that the ‘moment’ had to  come together….perfectly blending everything I wished to convey… I waited…..

Before I began the work, there was  a trip to San Francisco to get the perfect blank scroll… easy thing to do considering the specific size.  Once in my possession I set forth….remember that each stroke had to be done deliberately, without hesitation or correction. Seeing it again I had a beautiful memory of creating it and it gave me great joy…….

Listening to Bonnie describing how she ‘feels the water…hears the birds and senses the breezes, always seeing something new in the scroll’ I knew I had accomplished my task.


……..even seeing the Chinese rock in the lower left corner gave me such great pleasure.


Bonnie gives me a few pointers on meditation…


The following wonderful descriptions have been  contributed by Bonnie. ‘This display bench or tokonomo is usually held up by a post at it’s corner by the oldest piece of wood in the house.  The display would be changed weekly with a simple floral arrangement.’  However, Bonnie uses it to display some of her favorite pieces, including some driftwood she found at the beach that looks like a dragon.

Just reading that last sentence will give you a glimpse into Bonnie’s joie de vivre!  She and Charlie are the most in synch couple enjoying all that life on this beautiful blue planet has to offer and doing the most amazing things.  Bonnie is a classically trained violinist and has been appointed Concert Master for the Joshua Tree Orchestra and Charlie, aside from being the amazing writer that he is, has the most wonderful sense of humor proving that it takes great intellect to be clever! I first met Bonnie when she studied Chinese Brush painting with me and then she and Charlie went with us on our art tour of China ‘Journey of the Imagination’.

Now here’s the Tokonomo.


Here’s Bonnie’s Zen garden featuring 8 stones in clusters of 3 and 5.  Bonnie collected them as she learned the art of the stone with an organization called Aiseki Kai.  They display viewing stones at the Huntington Library and Gardens every year the day after New Year’s Day.  (Impressed????…..I thought so!!!)


Each season Bonnie enjoys rearranging the rocks and raking the sand into different positions.  She uses a small brush and her fingers.


A view from the edge of the tatami mats.


A small display of carvings of the 7 most famous Chinese poet/philosophers, one of whom is a woman.


Bonnie said she and Charlie fell in love with this pottery and bought it directly from the potter.  The handle is bamboo.  They use it every Sunday to keep their waffles hot.  Now that’s funny!107

My very first ‘adult’ car was an Alfa Romeo so when I found out that these two are over the top ‘Alfa nuts’ (Bonnie’s term) I loved them all the more.  They’re in all the Alfa clubs and go hither and yon to gather and gab or whatever they do.  Leaving tomorrow for Big Sur they will probably be connected in some way to this A.R. world!


Dapper Charlie with their 1991 Alfa Spider.  Bonnie said this was her daily driver to work for 17 years so she never minded the commute.  Who would!  They took the car all the way to Banff in Canada and when they got to the border to return to the States the border patrol took one look at the tiny car and waved them through without a search.


O.K., my foodie friends, I haven’t forgotten about you. We are about to enter ‘Teru Sushi’ in Studio City ( ) sublime home of all things wondrous from the sea.  But first, a conversation with the beautiful Koi.


Can you find the turtle?


The sushi master himself greets us….


Giant bottles of Sapporo and another type of Japanese beer.  The Sapporo is light and sweet.  The other is darker and more bitter.


Foodie alert!

A spicy tuna hand roll.  Tuna is ono, as in “Oh no! How can I eat this?” (Told you they are clever!!!) This was soooooooooooo delicious…possibly my favorite.


Must have tea…must have Cha or GREEN tea! Bonnie said ‘it’s a little bitter and dry to clean the palette and noted that the Japanese tea ceremony is called cha-no-yu.  Bet you didn’t know that.


A teru Sushi special roll.


Scallop hand rolls, known as atakegai. Maybe this was my favorite……although at this point it was hard to say or know as I was regaled with the most fascinating and hysterical stories ever!!!


Beautiful Spanish mackerel or aiji that melts in your mouth like butter.


Yellowtail sushi.


Uni or sea urchin.  Bonnie said that Charlie always has this last….. for ‘dessert’.


Time to say goodbye.  Arigato goziemashita Bonnie and Charlie for a sublime meal and unforgettable day!


I’ve been listening to Howard Hanson’s Symphony No. 2 “ROMANTIC”, Op. 30 composed for beloved Dr. Joseph Maddy founder of Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan.

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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.