Friday, January 29, 2016

JOY at the HUNTINGTON.....


I always look forward to all of my classes but this past week at the Huntington was an explosion of JOY!  There were 19 students and we painted Camellias. 

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…….But first, because there were quite a few new students, I did a review of various brush strokes and the proper brush to use for each.

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By the time I remembered to take a group photo, class was over and half of the students had left…...
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 I met mom and Nikka at Americana later for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory.  Nikka took this photo of mom and it’s one of my all time favorites.  Thanks Nikka!

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 The next day I was back at the Huntington Gardens with Amy for a private  'Downton Abbey' tour and high tea for the Fellows Committee.

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We were privileged to hear Catherine Hess, Chief Curator of European Art, talk about objects in the Huntington’s collection that were originally owned by the actual Downton Abbey Heiress, Lady Carnarvon.

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 Amy took some great photos…..

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Turns out this woman was quite scandalous and this portrait was featured in the movie ‘The Hamilton Woman’. (Just a little factoid for you.)FullSizeRender 2

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 ‘Pinky’ by Thomas Lawrence in 1794

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So many treasures…...FullSizeRender 2

Afterwards we all walked over to the Rose Cottage Tea Room where we were treated to a High Tea in the Herb Room.

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 I think this was my second helping…….

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 I was delighted to see this framed painting in the Herb Room of Camellias, our subject for the month.  Call that serendipity!

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Just time for a quick stop in the Gift Shop where Marta delightfully showed us where my Monkey cards are displayed.

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Amy notices everything and it’s a joy to share in what she spots.  Case in point, these little berries on the ‘Marina Strawberry Tree” that I would have completely missed!

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We’ll also have great fun painting Monkeys as it’s their year!  Lizzie Girl did a great job and I wish I had taken a photo of her work.  This was my demonstration painting.

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Later, I met Sandie Girl and we saw ‘Brooklyn’ but first….a tour of Reilly Manor to see all the amazing renovations they’ve done.  I especially love the master bath with this oh so interesting window treatment and the plants Sandie strategically placed.

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The grandkids room is a real winner….

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Off to Arc Light in Pasadena for the movie and two large tubs of popcorn as neither of us had lunch.  (Great excuse!)IMG 9699

Time for dinner at Tokyo Owako.  I’m not quite sure what this was but it looked nice and warm with lots of yummy stuff!IMG 9714

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 I figured out this was the Ladies Room.

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Next morning I met the beautiful Tina Marie for brunch at AOC in West Hollywood.

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I only mention that because they have the best French Toast on the planet and of course a side of bacon didn’t hurt. I polished off the bacon with no help but we split an omelet that surprisingly needed great help. Six hours later we staggered out wondering how anyone could sit that long on their all too hard chairs!

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Well, one must follow their heart and Kim is leaving us to go back to his love in the Philippines. That truly throws a monkey wrench in everything what with Sir Charles and mom.  Somehow it will all work out.  We’ll miss him and his entertaining outfits!

IMG 9720I’ll close this blog with a reminder to love everyone ‘till their buttons fall off!'IMG 9767

Monday, January 25, 2016


Some of you may have noticed that I changed the name of my blog to ‘LIVE JOYFULLY’ because that is not only my personal goal but my wish for all of you.

….It has always been my great joy and privilege to have Danny Han-Lin Chen, internationally acclaimed artist and instructor, conduct his workshops in my studio for the past few years.

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 Many of you were in the workshops from the beginning and have shared those inspiring days…..

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And thru to this past year…….

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especially dear Kathy who first brought Danny to us.

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No workshop was more delightful than when Danny and Hilda brought their precious daughter Jasmine with them from Canada.

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So it was with great shock and sadness that I read the following posting on Facebook from Hilda, Danny’s wife.

"My dear friends and family, I am so sorry to share with you that my lovely, beautiful baby Jasmine has left this world on monday Jan18,2016. It was an unfortunate accident, She might have had a seizure while sleeping, which could have caused her heart failure or not being able to breath. She was a healthy, normal kids and we were still chatting, joking, playing the night before she left. It was a shock for everyone.

Jasmine was a caring, loving, talented, considerate, creative and positive girl. We are so proud to have such an outstanding girl. Losing her on this earth is a great pain, our griefs and sadness is beyond words. 

However, as I looked back, even thought 8 years time is short, this 8 years time is full of God's blessings in our family. I really have no regrets, even though this happened so unexpectedly. I have no regrets because I got to give her million kisses all over her faces every night before she goes to sleep, including the night before she left, I told her how much we love her, how much I appreciate her in taking care of Opal every night. She knows that we are so proud of her; I wrote her love letters as a birthday gift ever since she learned how to read. She knows very well that her life is filled with loves everyday. We do not celebrate her birthday, but her life is filled with birthday surprises. We would take her along when we teach or doing other business in different places, where people don't normally would bring kids, we took her to exercise with us, we took her to travels, camping, she is with us probably more often than our cellphone and laptops. She is a great helper, everywhere we went people would tell us that How good she was. Jasmine used to read my Facebook pages with me together, we share our FB friends and our life with her. I have no regrets for this 8 years because everyday we make sure she knows that we love her; the quality of time that we spent together, and the love rewards that we've both got from this loving relationships really cannot be measured by length of time. Our pain will fade as time pass, but our love stays forever.

When we organize Jasmine belonging, we would share with you some of her drawing and writing. She is a creative and talented girl. She loves reading, writing and drawing. Last year we were thinking to get her to publish a children book, she loved the idea and she started some drawings. She didn't have time to finish it, but we will try our best to finish it with Opal.

Opal is still young, she may not fully understand what have happened, we told her that angel took Jasmine, and she is in heaven with our Father and she has to learn to be independent. So far Opal has been a happy kids as usual. As a habit, she would still tell us to save food for Jasmine or tell us to buy certain things in the grocery store because Jasmine loves the colour. Opal and Jasmine are very very close, they are just like twins.Jasmine had done an excellent job in building up this relationships.

In this 8 years, Jasmine was inspired by many other people including our friends/her friends and Sifu in Kung Fu, teachers & classmate in school, our art student/student's parent in our classes, our friends on Facebook and friends in our life. We would like to thank you everyone for being part of the blessings for Jasmine and our family. 

At last, I just have a few Prayer request: Please pray that Jasmine will rest in peace and be a free soul in heaven, and she will not be missing us. Please pray that we our family will have the strength to adjust to our new lifestyle. Please pray that pain fade faster, love stays stronger. and please pray for strength, wisdom and healing for Jasmine's Grandparents. Amen."


I try very hard not to put anything political, religious or sad on Facebook or in my blog but this posting was the great exception that broke my rule.  I was overwhelmed, with tears streaming down my face  when I read what Hilda wrote knowing I would  have to save it and pass it on. It is the most beautiful, true expression of how we are to live each day and how we are to confront loss. Hilda and Danny walked out each day in the LOVE of God and it is an honor and privilege to know them.

I share this all too sad news with you in the hope that you will understand the great need to bring joy out of sadness in order to fully live in this troubled world. May we live so that we have no regrets, appreciating everyone and everything in our lives and telling those we love that we cherish them.  May our lives be filled with love each and every day and may that love fill us with JOY!

Thank you dear Jasmine for your precious life that you shared with us.  You will not soon be forgotten.

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You may contact Hilda and Danny at

Hilda and Danny Chen

13291 Steveston Hwy

Richmond, BC


May you be blessed!








Friday, January 22, 2016


….and we witnessed it!  But first, does it really take one blonde and two brunettes to figure out a parking meter?  Apparently so!

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You all know how much I love ‘Recess Eatery’ on Brand Blvd.  I’ve long admired how Chef Sevan Abdessian built the restaurant slowly and wisely and always deliciously!  His lifelong dream of another amazing restaurant that would fully incorporate his vision took two and a half years to come to fruition and we were thrilled to be at the dedication of RECESS in Highland Park on York Blvd. This veteran of the culinary world brings us total East-side organic, gourmet food. Here’s my gals, Lisa Nikka and Amy!

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The bar was amazing and it was fascinating to watch the various drinks that were created!

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I love Noami, Chef Sevan’s mother.  She’s an amazing woman & it’s no surprise that she produced such a creative and visionary son.

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We were all so inspired to hear Sevan at the ribbon cutting ceremony…..

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O.K., I know, get to the food!

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Braised short ribs, horseradish pomme puree, braised kale, romesco

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Confit tomatoes, burrata, prosciutto, avocado, recess garden basil, balsamic essence, parmesan crisp

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Yummyness on a stick!IMG 9490

You know you want it!

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CONGRATULATIONS CHEF!  I’m soooo proud of you!

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Back to the real world and our sweet puppy who flew out of Trudy’s grasp in the park and killed a poor, innocent SKUNK! This was 7:00 A.M. when Trudy came into the bedroom & asked if I could go outside…….

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 Dear Liz from ‘Must Love Dogs’ Mobil Grooming came by at 6:30 after working hard all day and gave Kita a double de-skunking bath.

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Don’t give me that look…..

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Nikka felt so sorry for puppy she stopped and got her a toy which was destroyed faster than the skunk!

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The new Landscape series in the studio was wonderful. Joseph T. brought a magnificent Brush Stand he made and we all went crazy over it.  Interested?  Ask me for a price quote.

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I was delighted that everyone learned a lot…...

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Dear Lisa came over and we tried to take a Selfie….need a lot more practice but it was fun!

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Oh no…not the plumber again!  Kita was happy about this…..

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What fun making Diane a true Espresso in the Nespresso machine and serving it in a proper British espresso cup!

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Time to paint Camelias……..

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May you have beautiful days kissed by the sun…….

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……and be sure to see all the lovely Camelias in bloom now!

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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.