Sunday, August 30, 2015


…Where does inspiration come from?  Does it land full force like a space ship from Mars or settle gently like a cool breeze?  I don’t know but what I do know is that in doing the painting for Robinson Gardens an avalanche of ‘inspiration’ tumbled down upon me in the form of ROSES!  This was the first painting in a large format for the series and you can see I was trying to decide if I wanted to be in Peony or Rose heaven….

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It didn’t stop there….

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This then was the final painting in the series on Monday…..along with several others in a smaller size format.

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I’m thinking of these three as a triptych.

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I was amazed to see we had enough new cards created to fill an entire page in our catalog.

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Thursday evening I delivered the original artwork to Diane Jenkins when we met at Valerie’s, along with a small ‘book’ Nikka and I created describing the inspiration and process of the painting.

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What started it all.IMG 3041

On the lighter side I’m pleased to report that I’ve now seen ‘Inside Out’ for the third time!  It happened last Sunday with Sandie Girl and Dr. Jim.  Take away lesson….joy needs sadness to be complete.

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O.K. foodies, you know you want it….Lobster Pot Pie at Bourbon Steak House

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I had the usual suspects, Tuna Tartare and Foie Gras.

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I’m quite impressed with the effort mom makes when I go over. Full makeup and pearls!  WOW!IMG 3261

You’ve seen this one before.  Cheesecake Factory take out.  I always get the Skinnylicious Salmon which would work well on my ‘diet’ if I wouldn’t consume massive quantities of their bread and butter!

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I don’t know if you have ‘Classical Arts Showcase ‘ on your cable system….We get it on Charter #96.  With a beautiful selection of all the arts you’re bound to catch something that will ‘inspire’ you.  I thought Pavarotti had the definitive Nessun Dorma but watching this segment of  ‘La Boheme’ got me to YouTube for Bjoerlings version.

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How’s this for inspiration…..I still can’t believe I was up at 3:00 A.M. to get this moon shot from the studio. 

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I’ll be blogging about Valerie’s soiree to celebrate Satinder Dhiman's latest book ‘Gandhi and Leadership’.  Can you imagine what an ‘inspiration’ it was to see my name in the acknowledgments?

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Could we have more fun in the studio?….I doubt it!

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We set up two tables in the reception area of the studio to properly display this amazing silk scroll copy of arguably one of the most famous paintings in China….’Dwelling in Fuchun Mountain’ by Huang Gongwang 1269-1354.  Brought to us by new student John who said that this was what inspired him to begin studying Chinese Brush painting with me.IMG 3394

Inspiration seems to take many forms…..

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We’re so proud of Dr. Eileen who was inspired to become a docent at the Huntington Botanical Gardens.  This entails a lot of study and a love of the gardens.

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Find some puppy joy this week and it may come wrapped up in inspiration!

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Thursday, August 27, 2015


I absolutely love, love, love the look of the blog now.  It was Nikka’s idea and she created it! 

Sunday started the week off with meeting Tomiko at Pacific Theatre in Americana.  I was a bit early and could not get over the lines at both the ticket area and will call.  This photo doesn’t do it justice.
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 Got our tickets for Tom Cruise’s ‘Mission Impossible’ and must say it was one great ride!  Ate way too much popcorn.  It’s not a good idea to get the large size with the instant refill.  I’m sure you agree but on the other hand, I bet you have more self control so it really wouldn’t matter.

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 Tomiko loves Anthropologie.  I love just plopping down!

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 Kinda sworn off Bar Verde so it was off to Amici Trattoria where I got my usual Sole.  I love the way they do the tomatoes……quite fresh with lots of Basil!  You can see my Campari with Sparkling Water…my drink of choice in the summer.  Learned that at the Ritz Bar in Paris.  (Sorry, had to place drop.)

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 The folks at asked me to write a blog about my inspiration as an artist and they dubbed me ‘The Monet of Brush Painters’.  Kinda has a nice ring to it don’t you think?

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 I dug up this photo of me at Monet’s Garden in Giverny for the blog.  Oh dear, that hair!!!

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Ahhhhhh Heaven………...

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 His kitchen is a dream and oh what a bedroom with the biggest, softest down filled duvet in the world!  It was all I could do to keep myself from flinging onto it!!!

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 Sigh…...  Back to work.  Focused on Roses and having so much fun.  It’s all so fresh and spontaneous.  Don’t worry about the form…just delight in playing!

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 This Yogurt Marinated Chicken with Couscous and Mint from the Green Chef sustained me.

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The next evenings Lamb and Sweet Potato Sliders with Grape Arugula Salad was equally yummy!IMG 3015

Wednesday the 19th was our anniversary celebrating 20 years together.  Actually it’s about 21 and a half.

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 Charles would always make these wonderful and quite clever cards for me and here’s one he wrote…...

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 Wednesday was also class day at the Huntington but we were evacuated at 1:00 due to a gas leak on the grounds.

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 Actually I was quite delighted as it gave me a chance to easily drive to El Monte to pick up the painting I’ll be donating to Robinson Garden’s big fund raising gala in September.

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 Just in case you need this factoid, the Thrifty Ice Cream plant is on Telstar Avenue in El Monte.  Now aren’t you glad you’re reading this?

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 Back to our anniversary……..we decided to celebrate on the 20th instead as I was really pooped.  Good thing Vicki had made this Southwestern Black Bean Soup with Lima Bean Succotash from the Green Chef.  It was vegan so we added grilled chicken!

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As with all the Green Chef recipes…..they’re delicious but cleanup is a bear…...

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And here comes another Green Chef delivery…….IMG 3052

Back to the anniversary….Amici Trattoria seemed like the easiest place to get to.

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My usual…..Sole.  Don’t you love the way I’m my own bartender!

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Next to Kaley's Panna Cotta, this came in a close second…...

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 Yes, the server’s mixing Risotto with Truffles and Black Mushrooms right in that big wheel of cheese!

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 On my way to Staples I spied this rider and pup… driving on Riverside Drive past the stables…….

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 Friday, as always, Nikka and I have a lot of catching up to do in the office.  I was also busy mounting the weeks work…..

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 Saturday mom came over to help celebrate Nikka’s birthday (a day early) and Nikka showed mom the latest work.

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 Of course we ordered Chinese from Gourmet 88 as this is always our go-to celebratory meal!

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Lets hear it for the cake…..

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 Make a wish…...

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I sure love Nikka…...

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 Kita was getting very jealous and angry at being cordoned off so she attacked the sofa!  I thought those days were long gone…..

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 This is one of the greatest photo’s ever!!!

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 I hope you take time this week to notice all the beautiful things along your way!

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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.