Monday, February 24, 2014


…..It started out simple enough….I met Tomiko at mom’s and was greeted with tulips that will bloom shortly. Love the boots!


Off we went to Guitar Center on Sunset Blvd. to pick up son Alex’s guitar that had been repaired.




Everything looked O.K.


With the guitar safely in the car we headed back for some quality browsing. Let’s go for the gold! (Or is that Platinum?)


This one is so expensive because of all the handwork.


At this point, a man walked out of a little room that we suspected had treasures inside.  He looked at us and said, “Would you like a five minute education on guitars?”

023  It turned out he was from Boston, in charge of marketing for Bose & working in L.A. on a video shoot. The funny thing is that he has no connection with Guitar Center and was there as a customer.  Eric showed us around…. pointing to each guitar and telling us how it was made, it’s history and so much more information I confess I went into overload. He knows absolutely EVERYTHING about guitars!


Now how often does something like that happen?

As we were leaving this young fellow gave us a mini concert…


On to the ArcLight Hollywood at Sunset and Vine to catch the 4:40 ‘The Monuments Men’. I know, it got a terrible review in the ‘L.A. Times’ and not much better in the ‘New York Times’ but we thoroughly enjoyed it and hey….George Clooney!  The large BUTTERED popcorn was great too!


Next stop, ‘Little Dom’s’ on Hillhurst.  Always packed, always delicious.  The popcorn did us in so we settled on burgers (delicious) with arugula & parmesan salads.  Oh, I guess I should mention the gelato sundae with fudge sauce and whipped cream.  We’re soooo bad.


Bye for now!


Have a great week!

Sunday, February 23, 2014


Class at the Huntington Botanical Gardens was great fun as everyone loved painting Iris!


This was the week for Kita’s ‘yearly’ physical and shots.


It was also the week that I did NOT catch up on my reading!


Kita doesn’t care as long as the toy box is full.


And we have her favorite pacifier……the LICKETY STICK!  This works wonders when someone comes to the door.  No more jumping….just a quiet sit along with a slurpy lick! Thank goodness that’s under control!


And of course lots of Olympics' watching….especially the skating.

007 Catherine K. got the very last available space in Henry Li’s May workshops here in the studio!  She was soooo excited!026

Saturday’s class in the studio was great fun……We painted Bearded Iris and then the Japanese Iris. Tony is to the left and you can read all about his wonderful exhibit at the end of this blog.  I am beyond words proud of him!


Lovely Diana even tackled the Rooster!


Thank you sweet Diana for bringing Spring into the studio!


I think this is the cutest picture.  Po Chu and Violet are looking at the Mood Seal that has Po Chu’s name on it. It reads:

Tong Poet: Po Chu-yi “Even before the tune came there was passion in the air.”  From ‘The pi-Bar Song”

033 Here’s Lizzie Girl with precious Amy and Diane.


Thank you Lizzie for the treat! It was enjoyed by all.  (I’m suspecting that Diana brought the shortbread.)


Violet just really went to town!


…..and this! So wonderful!!!


Now here’s the greatest news of all.  I’m so proud of Tony who is the Bakersfield Art Association’s ‘Featured Artist of the Month’!


Bakersfield Art Association Featured Art of the Month: Tony Oliver - Journey of the Imagination
So Proud!!!
#BakersfieldArtAssociation #TonyOliver#ChineseBrushPainting #AsianArt #Proud #NanRae

And the following from the ‘Bakersfield Californian’ newspaper.


“Harmony in Heaven and Earth," a Chinese brush painting by Tony Oliver, will be featured in his "Journey of Imagination" at the Bakersfield Art Association Art Center.

By CAMILLE GAVIN, Contributing columnist

For nearly 50 years Tony Oliver has harbored a desire to do the delicate art of Chinese brush painting, but it wasn't until 2004 that he became serious about learning how to do it.

"I first saw it when I was overseas and fell in love with it," he said. "I liked the culture, too; they have a simple life."

Oliver, who is being honored as the Bakersfield Art Association's featured artist for February at a reception on Friday, was in the Marine Corps from 1965-69 and served in various parts of Asia -- Okinawa, Thailand, the Philippines and then Vietnam.

After returning to Bakersfield, he held a variety of jobs: tile setter's helper, carpentry, remodeling houses and finally as a bus driver/custodian for the Beardsley School District.

His first attempt at creating Asian-style art began shortly after his retirement in 2004 when a friend, an oil painter, gave Oliver a Japanese Sumi-e kit, a style that employs various shades of ink.

After experimenting with that, he realized he needed better brushes, so he searched the Internet for a source.

That led him to the website of Nan Rae, a Burbank artist who teaches Chinese brush painting.

Since then he's been traveling to Rae's studio once a month for lessons. He's also taking calligraphy lessons locally from Yuriko Tomita.

But Oliver says he's got a lot more to learn before creating his own designs. For the present, he relies on copying printed patterns.

"Chinese brush painting is kind of like karate, which I also do," he said. "They don't want you to go out on your own; they want you to follow the master."

Even the parchment-like paper he uses is dictated by the subject matter. "It's made out of mulberry trees," Oliver said. "There's one kind of paper for bird and flower pictures, and landscape paper which is what I use -- it doesn't bleed as much."

The paper comes in 32-by-57 inch sheets and then is torn or cut into a desired size.

In the Art Center show, he has 16 paintings, each measuring approximately 22 by 26 inches.

One painting shows small orange-colored gourds suspended from slender black branches and muted leaves.

Its title, "Harmony is Heaven and Earth," is signified by a small rectangular red stamp in the lower right corner. In the opposite corner are a few Chinese characters that spell the artist's name.

Friday, February 21, 2014


…….but first…..Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Totem’ in Santa Monica.


Hi Clara….you’re so cute!


So much fun!!!


I might as well tell you right off that the rest of this blog is all about food.  Clara, my #1 foodie friend and I sort of get dreamy eyed and rhapsodize over a great meal and boy did we ever have one.  We had parked at ‘Shutters on the Beach’ so it was great fun walking to Totem and back to Shutters for dinner.  So many interesting sights along the way and at night it was fun to see the Ferris wheel all lit up.


And this couple was amazing!


Back at Shutters on the Beach


For foodies only…..Our seasonal market dinner.

Roasted Beets with capers, heirloom apples, Burrata (this was heavenly) and organic watercress.


Grilled Octopus & Pork Belly.  I confess, I’d never had octopus….I know, it taste like chicken.  No it doesn’t, this was sublime….served with a raw artichoke salad, arugula & black garlic.


Oooooohhhhhh sooooooooooooo goooood!

Grilled Mediterranean Sea Bass with glazed market carrots, Harissa & asian pears.


Clara told them it was my birthday (not) and so a candle arrived with the most over the top desert.


Wait for it……



Wait for it……


Wait for it….

A salted Caramel Sundae with candy popcorn, chocolate brownie pieces and caramel ice cream.  Well worth the wait!


Thank you Clara for picking such a perfect place and wonderful day!

Monday, February 17, 2014


…..have gladdened my heart all week.  This is such an exquisite creation and those of you who were at mom’s 100th certainly remember her 818.625.5243


Amazing isn’t it!

Class in the studio was wonderful especially so with Clara able to come.  Most Saturdays she’s a docent at the Getty Villa!


Kathy did beautifully….here’s her Wisteria painting when we were discussing the placement of a  tendril….


How wonderful to see Lucia….here she is, at the ‘Sweet’ table with Lizzie! Lucia showed me a book she had compiled from our awesome trip to China & will make me a copy…I’m so excited!


Just time to change and drive over to Sandie & Jim’s.  I thought this book would be perfect to read to little Jakey.  Love Wegman!


Dinner was delicious (no surprise) and here’s the yummy lamb stew.  Reminder to self….get recipe.


When you get right down to it, isn’t it all about the desert? Note the Raspberry Coulis from Julianne’s and the pitcher of awesome caramel sauce…..we got the very last spoonful out of it!


Time to head out to the Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena for a stirring Beethoven 9th concert.


This cello player really got a workout!033

A beautiful evening!



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.