Tuesday, December 12, 2017


This may well be the most important blog I’ve ever written.
Last July, I received notice of 'Beyond the Lines' gallery’s exhibition at Bergamont Station featuring Debbie Korbel, an artist who had studied with me years ago.  May I say that no one else could get me out to Bergamont Station.  Off I went with Nikka and Amy.
‘SILVER’  by Debbie Korbel
Silver by Debbie Korbel
I suppose it’s really unseemly of me to take any credit for awesomely talented, creative Debbie Korbel but why not.  Why not indeed when it was the Brush painting classes years ago in my studio that first started Debbie on her artistic journey.  Here’s some of the proof!
Peony by Debbie Korbel

Debbie Korbel Chinese Magnolia

Koi by Debbie Korbel
Debbie and I have remained somewhat connected through the years and I was so happy to have a chance to see her again.  To say that I was completely staggered, blown away by her work, does not even begin to describe how in awe I am of her creativity and her ability to bring her concepts into three dimensional reality. Experiencing that, I knew just then that I had to write a blog about Debbie and share her gift with as many people as possible.
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How is it even possible to create such a perfect anatomical horse with scraps of flotsam & jetsam, bones from animals, driftwood, odd steel pieces…..by Debbie Korbel
Here’s ‘Silver’.IMG 3476
And a beauty cast in bronze…..IMG 3480
I knew that a visit to Debbie’s studio was in order because I absolutely needed to see and know more of her process.IMG 7596
Can you even begin to make sense of all this detritus?  Debbie scours construction sites wearing boots and heavy gloves looking for all manner of salvage, organic matter that she sees beauty in and that will be re-purposed into something amazingly wonderful.
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The only recognizable item here is the elks horns, driftwood and some lacy metal thing.IMG 7599
 My memory tells me this is going to be part of a fish….
IMG 7602And this????
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Everything you see here will be used and that beautifully!IMG 4235
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IMG 4223I was right.  This piece is going to be a large fish.  Debbie is holding driftwood and a deer antler.
DK: "Once I started with driftwood I realized I didn’t have to stop there because you’re just looking at shapes and colors."
Debbie Korbel
Debbie can’t help creating and I suspect that’s what an artist is.  She sees things that no one else sees and then brings them into being and the world says ‘why yes….of course'!IMG 4253
The horses are simply amazing.  Take a moment to see all the various materials used to bring this beauty into being...IMG 4297
 Debbie’s faces are absolutely perfect and beyond being lovely…they transport you to another dimension….
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 I have to say this is my favorite piece because of the sensitivity that goes so far beyond the sheer skill in creating it.  The idea of beauty in a wounded warrior….This piece is “DREAMING”.  I’m in awe of Debbie’s anatomical skill and again, the beauty she obtains in each face she molds.
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NR:  "What was the inspiration for this piece?"
DK:  "The impetus for the sculpture was a combination of things.  I wanted to create a figure that was “damaged” yet beautiful and passionate.  Love makes “wounded warriors” of us all.  The figure is that of a man who is separated from his beloved and yearning to hold her close to him again.  I wanted to write poetry that complemented the feeling of the piece.  I think that when we are in love we see everything in life through that lens, even the common nighttime sounds reflect and amplify the emotions we are feeling."
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On the jawbone there is the poem...
''Cicadas in the night
Calling out for love
I search the constellations for your face''
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 Again, using all manner of objects and then combining them to create this ethereal winged creature.
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 Another view…...
Debbie Korbel
 I mentioned Debbie is also an accomplished poet and how beautiful is this seen on the wing of the ‘butterfly'!
                                                                                                                       “ I see your lips moving
                                                                                                                         but I can’t hear a sound
                                                                                                                         I am lost
                                                                                                                         in the cathedral of your
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Time to sit down and ask Debbie some questions:
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NR: “How did your artistic journey begin?
DK: “Your Brush painting class was the genesis. I had no formal art training until I came to you.  Making jewelry caused me to hit my stride and that led to classes in sculpture with various teachers.  I started in clay and then into mixed media.  Deborah Butterfield’s driftwood pieces and mixed media horses were an ‘ah ha moment' for me when I thought ‘I can do this!’  From mixed media I found an electric wood drill and electric screw driver and so it went."
NR: “ Ahhhh…a woman with tools!" …..laughter….”Before you even thought of being an artist, what did you consider yourself."
DK: “I was always creative, making jewelry, writing poetry and children’s stories.  I did a lot of things to express myself. What can’t be taught is creativity, coming up with the concept and having a sense of balance and design."
NR: “Do you remember your first sculpted piece?"
DK: “It was of a great big fat woman with wire in her hair."
NR: “When was that?"
DK: “About seven or eight years ago."
NR: What you do is very complicated, coming from your core, your soul.  When you talk to the public at an exhibit, how much do you have to explain or how much do they grasp of what you do?"
DK: “The question I am most asked is ‘Where do you get your materials’ and ‘How do you come up with all these ideas?'  “For me, ideas are like a river, you just dip your cup into it.  You have to be calm.  Stress is a creativity killer."
NR: “What about the notion regarding Van Gogh, that an artist has to be tortured?"
DK: “Artists can be a little depressive or neurotic…it’s a release."
NR: “Where do you see all this going?"
DK: “I would be content with selling a few pieces and continuing doing what I’m doing."
NR: “From your heart, what would you like to say about your work?"
DK: “I don’t like pretentiousness.  I would like to communicate, be creative, in the zone….It’s like a whisper in your ear.  Of course it’s affirming when someone likes what I do. I always remember a Jeff Koon's quote, “Art is a humanitarian act.  Art should be able to effect mankind, to make the world a better place. The only thing the artist can do is be honest with themselves and make art."
NR: "Debbie I shall never forget this day, your inspiration and the thrill of watching your process."IMG 4352                                                                                       The poem embedded in this work:
                                                                                       "I want to be your mantra
                                                                                         a soft sound on your lips...
                                                                                         a murmuration of love rising
                                                                                         like a cloud of starlings
                                                                                         against a dusky red sky."
Samurai by Debbie Korbel
Reverance by Debbie Korbel
Metamorphosis by Debbie KorbelDebbie’s work may be seen at:
7277 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA. 90046

7350 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA. 90036

47900 CA-1
Big Sur, CA. 93920
May you always follow your heart!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


 Actually, lets talk about the joy we have when we share a meal with a dear friend.  Perhaps 'it’s not about the food at all' to quote Sandie Girl.  It’s easy to feel under pressure, rushed and harried which is why even an hour with a friend can put you in such a good place, re-energized, re-charged and ready to carry on.
Coming back from New York, our all too brief respite,  I was delighted to have an amazing adventure on the calendar.  Celebrating dear Amy’s birthday at the Music Center!  Actually this was a pre-birthday celebration but one I wanted to have as Placido Domingo was starring in Nabucco and how could we miss a chance to hear him in person!
IMG 5893But first, a champagne toast and dinner in the Founder’s Room.
IMG 4039It was great fun having Nancy Baxter from the L.A. Opera stop by….Let’s hear it for my Betty Boop shirt!
IMG 5905It’s was delightful to find a birthday cake for lovely Amy during intermission and always a treat to see lovely Elaine Adams with hubby Peter, Artiste Extraordinaire!
IMG 5909The very next evening dear Carol Soucek King and I went to the most amazing lecture at the Japanese Foundation on the Miracle Mile.  First, as this is primarily about food, we had a quick (very quick) burger across the street at The Counter and I can’t believe I ate the whole yummy, gooey mess.  Great fun and always great catching up with Carol.
Fullsizeoutput 17391Yoshio Ikezaki, a longtime friend of Carol’s,  spoke on the importance of Ch’i and demonstrated & discussed brushes and paper.  His work is currently on exhibit in the Japanese Pavilion at LACMA and at the Kylin Gallery.
IMG 5967Thank you dear Carol for including me in this inspiring evening.IMG 5958
Next stop Hamilton with Laurie Pie but first…dinner and wonderful conversation at Katsuya in Hollywood, Master Sushi Chef Katsuya Uechi ’s amazingly stunning restaurant designed by Philippe Starck.IMG 5990
IMG 5991Ordering the tasting menu can get you in a lot of trouble as there’s way too much food that's all way too good!
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The conversation never stops  with Laurie Pie as we manage to cover every topic, connect on every level and then wonder how we could have run out of time!IMG 5995Sufficently stuffed we headed off, across the street to the Pantages for ‘Hamilton’.
IMG 5999The Huntington Class is pure joy as you can see by all our happy faces!
IMG 8935After class Nikka and I always stop at Din Tai Fung at Americana.  We get there early before the mob scene….When I say we order EVERYTHING it’s not an exaggeration as we’re starving at that point.  It’s a great time to review and talk about class, business and maybe monkey business.
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I thought we’d get a head start on putting up the Christmas tree in the studio so I hired Connor and his muscles for the day.  All areas were cleaned and sorted and now I have three walk-in closets in the studio. Who knew!!!  Pappa John’s pizza was called for.IMG 6177Those of you who know our soft spoken, polite Connor will be shocked to learn he’s quite the Super Bike Racer! Nikka was so inspired she went rock climbing with friends the very next day!
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I had really only been away for five days but it did seem like forever so I wanted to see everyone I could calendar in and catch up.  First was beautiful Mary at Bloomies.  Mary is doing incredible work raising millions of dollars for Catholic Charities and helping the poor and disenfranchised around the globe.  Yea Mary!!!
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Then brilliant and equally beautiful Maggie at Bar Verde…I am forever indebted to you Maggie for your loving attention to matters at home while I was away!
IMG 6143Which brought me to Sunday and an invitation from our dear Lisa Bowman for the 34th Annual Dinner Meeting of the 'Samuel Johnson Society of the West’ at The Huntington Botanical Gardens.  What a conglomeration of brainiacs! I brought some photos and a copy of Lisa’s book ‘The Shattered Peacock’ to sign for Alyssa, Marine’s adorable daughter and another book for Cory….Sweet Lynne Sim’s daughter.
Fullsizeoutput 17156Thank you my dear friend for including me in such a tasty and brainy event!
IMG 6194Lot’s to catch up with brilliant Farnaz.  I’ll be giving you more details on her extraordinary invention which we spent quite a bit of time discussing.Just wondering, anyone notice I’ve worn this outfit in almost every photo….It’s been my uniform for the month and saves me time and thinking!
IMG 6216It was finally actually Amy’s real birthday date so off we went to the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel where Chef Josh has put me down as a VIP….Ha! This is just one of Chef Josh’s amazing dishes he created for us.
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Happiest of Birthdays dear Amy!IMG 4218More food, more loving conversation with Precious Patricia at the SLS Hotel on La Cienega and Chef Jose Andrés, one of my heroes, amazing restaurant ‘The Bazaar.  I do believe this is the most inventive, best food in L.A.! I posted a video on Instagram but it doesn’t do the many presentations justice.  Everything was unforgettable including the most perfect poached egg ever!  How could something so simple be so sublime?
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We sat in a lovely, cozy, private area with our own fireplace and ‘The Book of the Akita’ on the bookshelf!IMG 6303
O.K., the chocolate croissant was to bring me back to Paris and the yogurt had to be tried to see if even this could be transformed.  Yes!  As for the gold and silver items….Real eggshells, tops removed, painted and filled with creamy yumminess!IMG 6304
Sweet Cashmere, our neighbor!IMG 6309
All I’m going to say is we broke our all time best and set a new record of six plus hours of utterly delightful conversation interrupted only by delicious morsels of magnificent food. Thank you Precious Patricia for the sublime treat!IMG 6332
Could anything better to close out this blog than a remembrance of Monday teatime with our dear Miss Judith.  Here she shows me the sweet spot on the Bird of Paradise for the pollen gathers!IMG 6369May you always find that sweet spot and gather pollen wherever you may go!


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.