Thursday, September 29, 2016


 ….is just about the most glamorous, red carpet event in Los Angeles.

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  Nikka had a choice of three things to do for her birthday and picked this event!  It was so much fun seeing everyone glammed up and intermission in the Founders Room gave us a chance to fully take it all in.

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 The one and only  Placido Domingo starred as Macbeth and it was opera at it’s finest!

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 I think one of my favorite things to do is have dinner on the patio with Sandie Girl and just do our foodie best, relax and catch up.

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 Teaching brings me such great joy and a new student in the Huntington Botanical Gardens class asked, “Do you always have so much fun?”  Of course the answer was a resounding YES!

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 I’m so proud of Jeannie.  She had a major breakthrough and I  loved her painting. Yes, lots of JOY!

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 Time for dinner and Bobbas at Din Tai Fung at Americana and then Nikka and I went birthday shopping for mom at Nordstrom.  WOW, what a long day! Good thing we had the Bobbas!!!

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 Having the windows washed was on the list for getting ready for the Lissi Kaplan book signing in the studio.  This corner window area in the office is rather tricky.

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 Jimmy put this bamboo covering up to hid our neighbors all too messy area. Thank you Jimmy for the perfect solution!

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 This must be birthday month.  Even though Kc would rather keep it mum we had to get a cake and celebrate!

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 Congrats to Kayleen for her beautiful painting!

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 O.K., here’s the birthday girl with Sir Charles whose special day is coming up this Friday.

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Kristine relieves Nikka with mom so Nikka can be in the office at least two days a week and also get a much needed day off.IMG 6727

 Charles is always up for a good party!

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 Nikka is borderline TOO cute!  She got these balloons at Party City!

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 And have you ever seen a more beautiful cake????

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 That’s correct. 104 years of living on our beautiful blue planet! Happy Birthday dear mom!!!  We celebrate you.

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 May you have many, many years of joyful celebrations!



Monday, September 12, 2016



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Charles and I were married in August and every birthday, Valentine’s Day, Anniversary, etc. he’d make me the most wonderful cards.

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But balloons are nice too...

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And there’s always lots of LOVE….

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Amy brought over two exquisite bouquets for our anniversary and Laurie Pie delighted in them.  Thank you dear Amy for always remembering!

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To celebrate, Kita gets a bath.  She loves Liz from ‘Must Love Dogs’ mobil grooming and willingly gets into the rubby dubby dub tub!

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Well, I thought I had one little project but when Jimmy showed up with his crew he found LOTS of STUFF to do!

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Before I could blink they were all over the place….

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I think we’re varnishing the beam.  Didn’t know it needed it….However, all the railings and doors did.

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The last fellow made such a mess of the Bamboo that we had to start all over…..

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I’m so happy with the beautiful blue pots on the patio and the fruit trees that are now in them!  

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The piece de resistance was getting a new deck after the last fellow had destroyed the old one.

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O.K., let’s party on Garth.  Time for Nikka’s birthday.  She has one more present coming on September 17th.  

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If these two aren’t the ‘made in heaven’ couple I don’t know who is.  Herm and Lulu celebrating their second wedding anniversary.  They are so cute together!

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Let’s hear it for the cake!!!

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Even better, lets here it for the Champagne!

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I guess Kita was really distraught she wasn’t invited to the party so she left me a message loud and clear.  'Leave me and I’m goin’ for the money!'

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But wait…there’s one more birthday.  Melissa, Sandie Girl’s amazing daughter-in-law and awesome mom to Jacob and Noah. Sandie and Jacob made this adorable cake & beach scene.

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Happy, happy Birthday Melissa!IMG 6428

Adorable Noah and Jacob AKA Jakey!
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These shrimp Sandie made were so incredibly good I went straight to Bristol Farms to get some.IMG 6464

What’s going on?  Why a Hatch Chile celebration straight from New Mexico….that’s what!  The season is short so one must have all things Hatch  when it arrives.

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So it’s true….summer is over ‘cause Memorial Day not only heralds fall but on the plus side….grilled cheese sandwiches with bacon, bacon, bacon!

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With beautiful watermelon.IMG 6467

Now this was one of the most amazing sights I’ve ever encountered.  I was in my car and as I drove, tried to capture what I saw but the image was in reverse.  Actually the sun was a red ball of fire. ‘Goodness, gracious, red balls of fire!’  I’ve never seen that before.  Have you?

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No matter how I tried, I couldn’t capture the total redness. It just kept turning gold.

IMG 6188I wish you amazing sights, glorious day filled with wonder.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016



….especially so because I have the most wonderful students!

Here’s the class at the Huntington Botanical Gardens where I have been teaching since the mid ’90’s.  When I started there the class was in an area that is now the Boone Gallery and the Botanical Staff worked out of trailers!  So many wonderful memories of happy artists.

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Awesome Maggie had to leave early so here’s a photo of a previous class….There she is to the far left.

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Thanks to Ralph, Nikka has started to paint as well….so cute!  Ralph’s family was instrumental in establishing the Bonsai Garden at the Huntington and I blogged about the special day we walked over to see a bench dedicated to his parents. Touching beyond description.

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 I think we have a budding artist here!

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 We always have so much fun and even get some amazing work done!!! I’m laughing because everyone ooooooed at this one brush stroke (the first) so much that I threatened to retire for the day!

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I continued on anyway...

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After class Nikka and I love to go to Din Tai Fung for dinner.  I think it’s because we love Boba’s!IMG 5970

Of course the studio class is dear to my heart and has been since 2000 when it came into being.  Here’s a little group taking a lunch break….IMG 2154

I really do have the most amazing assistant and everyone is so appreciative of Nikka and the way she produces their beautiful artwork onto greeting cards and prints.  I’m so very proud of everyone.  Here’s Sweet Lynne.IMG 2156

Kathy is an artist extraordinaire and she is not only masterful at Brush painting but has widened her art knowledge in other mediums.IMG 1624

Both Kathy and Kathryn are getting out there with their beautiful work.  So proud!IMG 1617

 Look at Po Chu….great job!  We managed to cover two subjects that day.

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 Kayleen’s joy with this beautiful Peony says it all!

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I will never paint on a students work but I do like to hold their hand and guide the strokes for them so they can feel how light the touch is.  It seems to help a great deal.IMG 1683

 Amy & I combine our Ch’i!

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 Even new students Andrea and Julia do amazingly well…..

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 Diane and Cathy are students at the Huntington class who requested a private class in the studio.  It was great fun and we accomplished a lot.

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 I used to teach a Landscape class at the Huntington Botanical Gardens but it became easier to hold the class in the studio. There’s a different subject covered in depth each month.

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I’m always impressed at how diligent everyone is….

IMG 2474Everyone gets to express their feelings about each subject and no one is better at that than Lulu!IMG 5793

Time to embarrass myself.  I was invited to an event at the Huntington for  Jade Circle donors to the Chinese Garden.  Hu Qiuping, a famous calligrapher from the China National Academy of Painting gave a lecture (interpreted) and afterwards the Huntington staff ‘volunteered’ me to be a ‘student’.  The thought running through my head quite loudly was ‘Why didn’t I attend more of Tom’s classes????'IMG 6329

 How am I doing?  Don’t answer that!

IMG 6332That did it.  I determined to show up for Tom’s calligraphy class in the studio the following Saturday.

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Just what I tell everyone….practice, practice, practice!IMG 6381

 Tom and I combined our Ch’i!

IMG 6398I wasted no time going on Amazon and ordering this amazing Zen Brush from Japan.  It’s a monster and only the brave need apply!

IMG 6465However you paint your life, may it be beautiful!






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.