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…...

Friday, March 11, 2016


Yes, I do tend to wander off if something catches my eye but that’s how all of my amazing adventures have happened as I told Jane Verrill, here on business for Harvard University, as we shared tea and reminisced at the Peninsula Hotel.  Tea time is made especially pleasurable when it’s on Lissi Kaplan’s exquisite china pieces she hand paints for the hotel.

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Back to serendipity and a grand adventure.  I had been staying in Cannes years ago and took the train to Monte Carlo meeting two new ‘friends’ on the train.  As you know, Monte Carlo is a beautiful, perfect, postage sized city and being in the town square you’ve just about seen it.  As we were standing there I spied a ponytail that I recognized as it disappeared into the building ahead of us and I told the two to follow me.  IMG 0832Well, they completely chickened out so off I went. Recognize where I am? It’s the Casino at Monte Carlo!

IMG 0833Into the building dashed the ponytail disappearing into a nondescript back door.  Of course I scurried off, hot on the trail and followed up some rather dark stairs.  I thought I might be going to some secret gambling section of the Casino.  At the top of the stairs I was halted by an imperious gentlemen in formal black tie who informed me I could go no further without a ticket.  Now you know at this point that I was determined so back down I went to the caged booth to get a ‘ticket’.  As you have to pay an entrance fee to gamble in the casino I thought this was just a pricier ‘back room’ place.  The woman in the ‘cage’ told me my Swiss Francs were NO GOOD & I had to go outside and exchange them for French francs at the moneychangers.  (Still with me?)  Outside, s’il vous plait !  Mind you I do not speak French but can get by pretty well….at least so far.

French Francs in hand I’m back to get my ‘ticket’ and return up those dark stairs where I was given a gilt chair and told to wait.  Are you ready?

When the door opened I was ushered to my seat in the most beautiful jewel like opera hall I have ever seen and when I sat down, I turned around and waved at that ponytail attached to….


.wait for it…



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……Karl was seated in Princess Grace’s box!

Well, there’s quite a bit more to the adventure but I’ll stop with telling you the charming group that I met who sat behind me took me back stage after the performance to meet all the principals!

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IMG 0835So curiosity with a dollop of bravery will take you on the most fantastic journeys .  After all, isn’t that how I became best friends with The Cookie Monster?

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Wishing you grand adventures!


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.