Friday, April 4, 2014


lWe arrived at the elegant & spacious home of Mrs. Masako Konishi, a llovely woman who welcomed us in the most gracious manner.

Some of the stone pieces in the garden were from the Edo Period and her family dates back some 800 years in Koyoto.

Shoes off please.......

Mrs. Konishi graciously gave us a tour of her home and pointed out many pieces.  A beautiful Gombi (fine line) painting/scroll along with a vase of Cherry blossoms artfully arranged (Ikebana) were chosen... and placed in the Tokonoma area  for us...her guests!  The Tokonoma is the place to put these traditional objects and the seat nearest the area is considered to be for the most honored guest!

Are you ready?......

Wait for it....

Wait for it.....


Can you believe ?

The Tokomona area is behind me.

It takes a village......Pam & I were 'dressed' at the same time (we picked out our kimono's) and this is so complicated, it's impossible for one to dress themselves.  Lots of wrapping and many layers.  You feel like a package being wrapped for Christmas!  The 'Obi' is so tight that you're constricted but actually it feels wonderful.  Your posture changes along with the way you deport yourself....little mincing steps work best. 

Here's Pam.....she selected such a beautiful kimono.  I am amazed at how they tie the Obi into such a magnificent bow!

Boyd and Wilbur.

And here are the ladies.... in all our glory! From the left, Eileen, Bonnie, Pam & yours truly.

Wilbur joined us for this one!

But wait......there's so much more......

Time for the tea ceremony.  Watching Yumiko, (Masako's friend and fellow member of the Women's Association of  Kyoto*) perform the tea ceremony was like watching a ballet.  Each movement was so precise and delicate I was mesmorized. 

The Japanese tea ceremony is called 'chanoyu' or 'sado' and the bitter tea is 'matcha'.  This choreographed ritual is indescribeable. 'The whole process is not about drinking is about aesthetics!'

We were taught the correct was to hold the bowl (larger than a teacup as the ground Green tea is whisked in the bowl)......along with the proper thing to say when presented with the tea....You thank your host and then turn and apologize to the person to your left for drinking before them.  It's all very formal and causes one to be fully present in the moment.  Because of that, Masako said solomnly, " This is a moment in time that will never come again".  Her manner, along with her words had great impact on me and I'm sure everyone felt the same.

Masako,  Yukiko and an assistant stood at the entrance to the home and waved goodbye to us.  (That's customary.)

We then walked along Shirakawa Dori Street next to the Shirawaka Canal.......A canopy of Cherry blossoms along the way and a good chance to Geisha gawk!  I'm going back to take photo's once my iPhone is charged!!
Hanami Koji Dori Street then led us to the theatre.

* Wak Japan Co. provides opportunities for women of Kyoto to expand their ability through international exchange services.  Their aim is to help more people understand Japanese culture.

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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.