Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Well, here I am, teaching Brush painting to adults…..over 3,000 at this point and most everyone that I’ve taught toils all week in left brain activity.  Don’t we desperately need some way of escape, some glimmer of respite from the slavery many of us find ourselves in?  However, learning a right brain activity can bring a lot of detritus to the surface.  Feelings of inadequacy and dread, the general state of fear that overtakes us like one of the horses of the apocalypse. 

Eureka, it suddenly occurred to me why Asian art seems to draw so many people (including myself) when in actuality, many times it isn’t beautiful in the western sense.  Rather, it can be disturbing until we understand what we’re looking at.  In the East there’s no perspective, no light source and everything is a metaphor - but of what?

Of retreat or rather withdrawal from society and all the elements in the paintings serve to take one on a journey irrespective of time and space.  A journey of the imagination if you will where all the cares and daily struggles are set aside if even for a few moments.  In a spiritual sense, it can serve to re-connect us with our Creator.  So that is what I wish for you.  A day, perhaps just a few hours of quiet….no cell phones, no laptop…just quiet…listening to the sounds of life….smelling the fragrance of creation…..observing the minute details in a flower.  Perhaps a butterfly will alight upon you.

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This I promise, if you can truly surrender and trust that you have been created for a great and glorious purpose that only you can fulfill, you’ll find that all the answers you’ll ever need are already waiting for you at each step along the way. This huge Loquat tree was planted from one seed…...

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And now the birds not only find shelter in it but nourishment as well.

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You are wondrously made and your assignment is to go out and find your joy!

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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.