Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Absolutely everyone has a purpose! Painting is my ‘work’ but I’ve found that my purpose in life is teaching and it’s in teaching that I find my greatest joy.  Here are a few moments in the past two weeks that I have loved. I used to teach a Landscape class at the Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino in addition to the regular Floral series that I teach but it became too much to go there twice a month.  There were so many requests for the Landscape class that I decided to hold it in the Studio on the second Wednesday of each month.

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 This month’s Landscape subject was ‘Mists’.

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 It happened to fall on Nancy Weeks birthday so she baked a cake for everyone….imagine that!  Nancy is also a student in Shantien ‘Tom’ Chow’s Calligraphy class held in the Studio on the first Saturday of each month.

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 The Wisteria bloomed on the walkway and it was so wonderful I had to have it as the Floral subject in the Studio.

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 Lynne Tucker was in class from Palm Springs and had requested a Bamboo review as well.

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 You may remember ’SUMA the ELEPHANT’  the little book I illustrated that went on to win a Benjamin Franklin Award in N.Y. for the illustrations.  Dear Carol Soucek King had the topic for her Sunday Salon be on ‘Possibility’ which was the third chapter of her book ’UNDER THE BRIDGES at ARROYO DEL REY’. That chapter was based in large part on a talk I gave at the Salon on ‘Suma’ a few years ago so it was a joy to be present and add my few thoughts to the discussion.

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 There were more than fifty people at the Salon and all with thoughtful ideas to share with the group.

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 Following that it was time to go to LACMA with Amy to deliver this exquisite bouquet to Reza.  It was to be presented to Mamak Khadem, the beautiful star of the Nowruz celebratory concert.

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 The new name for Amy’s business is 'LE JARDIN PRIVE’ thanks to Reza who we knew to ask for an amazing French name!  New name, same exquisite creations!!! Amy of course is another example of finding your joy through your purpose.

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 Afterwards we shared a shortrib sandwich and kale salad at Ray’s.  Just a thought…It’s better to eat in the LACMA cafe on the weekends as Ray’s has a shortened menu.

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 Class at the Huntington Botanical Gardens is always pure joy and especially so when old students drop by to say hello.  Jody was so cute in bringing me a belated Christmas treat!

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 This has got to be one of the most delightful Goldfish I have ever seen and the joy it gave me is inexpressible.  Eleven year old Franciska was my prize student!

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 Actually everyone did quite well.  Ralph had requested Shrimp which we did along with Lobsters and Crabs before happy Goldfish!

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 Special thanks to Colleen who collected these beauties from the chickens on her ranch!  Sooooo  exciting & delicious too! Glad I had this little stand for them as I’m told not to refrigerate or rinse until using.

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 O.K., lets put beautiful friendships right up at the top of the list in living joyfully.  This photo says it all.  Delightful tea time with Bridget and Maria at  the ‘Tea Rose Garden’ on Raymond in Pasadena.

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 May your walk in your purpose and may your joy be full…...

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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.