Monday, November 28, 2016


……began with a book signing brunch in Hancock Park.

IMG 8461The author, Lorri Antosz Benson, wrote a moving tale of giving up her daughter for adoption.  With a forward by Phil Donahue (Lorri is his producer) you’ll need a lot of Kleenex to get through this compelling book.

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Kensington Caterers is amazing.  This was quite possibly the best brunch ever. 323.935.4300  IMG 8439

I must learn to behave myself!

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 It was delightful having brunch poolside in the garden before Lorri’s talk. Being feted in such a beautiful home, feeling the love and admiration and good will of all reminds one of the things that truly matter and the importance of sharing what we’ve been given.  It was both joyful and inspiring.

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 That is of course before we all puddled up hearing Lorri’s story.  Kiki, our generous hostess to the right introduced her.

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Amy and I fell in love with this captivating artwork.  It’s actually a photograph and the title is….wait for it….’The Kiss’!IMG 8443

On to the birthday surprise.  Amy was driving my car and had no idea where we were going.  If you’ve ever ridden with Amy, you know what fun and what an adventure that is.  Anyway, we finally arrived at our destination…The Peninsula Hotel.  Surprise!  Spa time!!!IMG 7410

I even got my footsies done and after we both finished our ‘treatments’ we met in the ‘relaxation room’ for a birthday toast of champagne and our usual carrying on!IMG 8469

Have I mentioned the Spa has the most delicious Ginger Tea and it’s worth a trip just for that.  Also, little yummy mini muffins and nuts and dried fruit to nibble.IMG 8473

Time for dinner on The Roof Terrace.  A prize for anyone who can identify the person almost photobombing Amy.IMG 8482

 Does this help?

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 Here’s birthday cake/candle #1……but wait….there’s more…..

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The second cake in The Living Room…..Amy thought we were going home after dinner so this really was a surprise!

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 We had the most wonderful, kind server who picked out the best desert for us to send to the pianist who serenaded Amy for her birthday!

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 Antonio Castillo de la Gala, pianist and composer at The Peninsula Hotel. On youtube: L.A. Story Spotlight: Antonio Castillo de la Gala, Peninsula Beverly Hills  Go to and enter watch?v=ykd-fl8VMWs

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 Somehow, when you live joyfully the most amazing things happen.  Serendipity at it’s finest!  This moment as we were leaving The Peninsula was the icing on the cake.  Amy seeing one of her heroes, Vladimir Posner!  I think the whole day was meant for this one moment!!!  Happy Birthday dear Amy!

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May each day bring you such happiness as you live joyfully! 



Tuesday, November 22, 2016


 ……with a glorious celebration in The Living Room at the Peninsula Hotel hosted by the one and only incomparable Lissi Kaplan as a thank you for the tea and book signing in the Nan Rae Studio. Amy is on the left seated with Lisa Bowman.

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Those of you who were at the book signing remember the amazing flowers created by Amy….Le Jardin Privé 818.625.5243

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 …and the exquisite arrangement she created for my table where Lissi would be signing her books. Each of those yellow and green ‘leaves’ are actually orchid petals!

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Back to The Living Room…..Beauties Amy and Lisa show off gifted Lissi’s hand painted china created especially for the Peninsula’s tea service! This is their special Vanna White pose.

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 The face of JOY!

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Here’s some exciting news for Christmas giving.

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Back to Planet Earth and lunch with dear Cris Lutz at the Athenaeum at Caltech. I suppose you noticed I wore the same thing two days in a row.  Who has time to think wardrobe?

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I always ask for more foam than coffee.  This was perfect!

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A belated celebration for dear Clara’s birthday and it was a perfect day for the Roof Garden Terrace at The Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills!.

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We ate like hibernating bears.  The Fish Tacos are wonderful as was the shrimp dish.  Good thing we had all this because it turned out to be an over 5 hour celebration!

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The Roof Garden Terrace’s idea of a Root Beer Float.  This was sooooo yummy!

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Happy, Happy Birthday dear Clara!

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A prize for the person who correctly identifies the man who photo-bombed me!

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 Back to the Peninsula and the new Belvedere garden area... it’s delightful.  (When you’re dining inside the Belvedere you look out onto this area.) It would probably take a page or two to describe the interesting, far ranging conversation I had with Heather from Newport Beach and Nick from Texas.  But then again, you probably wouldn’t believe me as I still don’t and  Nikko the Japanese Chen didn’t!

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 Lunch time.  Well, we gotta eat don’t we?  Sweet Joele drove all the way from Manhattan Beach so provisions were in order!

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 Followed by a discussion of worldly things such as Minions!

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Santa’s Workshop, Nan Rae Division, is now open in the studio so Sandie Girl came over to work on Christmas cards.

IMG 8313But first a little lunch. (Surprised?)

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Moving on,  Amy never ceases to amaze me.  This is her exquisite arrangement for the California Club!

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 When I arrived home after a long day of teaching at The Huntington Botanical Gardens, this is what greeted me!

IMG 8383I just stood at the door, mouth ajar for the longest time…..

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 As I mentioned, I had been at the Huntington where class as always, was a joy.  Everyone had so much fun working on Christmas cards and painted all manner of things….Pandas, Birds, Candles, Poinsettia

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With Lulu being her usual creative self using the bits of colored rice paper Pam had brought for the class.

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After class Cris Lutz came by with this wonderful catalog for an amazing exhibit currently at The Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino (In case you didn’t know). “GARDENS, ART, and COMMERCE IN chinese woodblock prints”.  Thank you so much dear Cris.

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Oh I almost forgot!  Our class was invited to a special, private preview of an Origami exhibit by internationally renowned origami master Robert J. Lang. (It’s in the Botanical Center but only open to the public on weekends.)

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This flower was created from a single sheet of paper as the one you see behind the plexi case.IMG 8345

Loved the Koi…or do you say Carp?

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 Is that a Nan Rae work I see in one of the Botanical Staff offices?

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Just in case you think I’m finished with, lunches, dinners and teas at The Peninsula….but I think I’ll save that until after Thanksgiving.IMG 8303I wish you golden days, peaceful nights and a blessed Thanksgiving for you and all those you hold dear.



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.