Monday, March 6, 2017


…..At The Huntington Botanical Garden’s amazing exhibit on the Celebration Lawn.  This extraordinary experience within a Nautilus-shell-shaped 28 foot ‘sculpture’ is clad in shiny aluminum and you enter an amazing sound experience.
Orbit Pavilion at the Huntington Botanical Gardens
Marsha and Stu, my life long snow bird friends from Chicago who winter in Newport Beach, huddle with brilliant Curator Susan Maxwell before entering the Orbit to hear NASA’S fleet of earth science satellites that monitor our planets vital signs. This sound experience represents the movement of the International Space Station and 19 earth satellites.  As there is no sound in space, each satellite has been given a recorded sound attached to it’s signal and that’s what you hear from a speaker as it’s trajectory is picked up.  For the Space Station, because it’s manned, it’s sound is that of a choir!  'These NASA studies help to unravel the complexities of our planet from the highest reaches of Earth’s atmosphere to it’s core.'
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Inside the structure is where things get really interesting, as each satellite flies overhead through space, that corresponding sound is emitted from each of the 28 speakers mounted on the structure’s interior wall.' Visitors walking into the structure hear a new kind of symphony, with a sound interpreting each of the satellites’ various missions: among them a human voice, the crashing of a wave, a tree branch moving, a frog croaking. The “soundscape” was composed by Oakland-based sound artist Shane Myrbeck.'
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Here’s a list of the satellites along with their tasks.
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I suggest that you go first to NASA’s related interactive exhibit, “EYES ON THE EARTH” in the Mapel Orientation Gallery right across from the yummy new restaurant, 1919. You’ll learn so much and be better prepared to experience the ORBIT.
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Susan also graciously gave us a special tour of the ‘GARDEN OF FLOWING FRAGRANCE’ ( Liu Fung Yuan) where I learned quite a bit more than I had known.  Those of you who went on the trip to China with Charles and myself will long remember the Gardens of Suzhou whose architects and artisans built this astonishing garden. This memorable day was thanks to lovely Cris Lutz who you can see to the right in this photo.  It was a joy to share this beautiful experience with her.  Thank you Cris!
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I seriously doubt that there’s a rock, pebble, shrub or tree that Susan is not knowledgeable about!
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This was quite possibly the most exquisite Chinese Magnolia I have ever seen and I could hardly wait for the next Brush painting class for it to be our subject! As you know if you’ve ever been in class….a flower is never just a flower but represents something so sublime speaking to the harmony of heaven and earth!
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This fine fellow, a Canadian Goose, enjoyed sailing amidst the Lotus Pods about to shed their seeds for next seasons growth.
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The stunning rocks are all from Lake Tai and one could spend a day just contemplating their complexity! It’s apparent the garden is aptly named as with each season new plants and trees bring forth their heavenly fragrances.
IMG 0748Oh joy! As you walk along each pathway, pause to note each stone beneath your feet has been handset by an artisan!
IMG 0752The newly reopened restaurant, 1919, is a mini Border Grill and you know how great that is!  There are classics like tacos on homemade tortillas, ceviche, and aqua frescos along with sushi at a small plates bar.  So many delicious choices…..Here’s the yummy sandwich ares.
IMG 0778A couple of evenings later there was a most interesting and knowledgeable lecture “From Castles to Tea Rooms: Japanese Architecture and Carpentry Traditions of the Edo Period (1600-1868)
IMG 0863To my utter amazement, this was the last slide….
IMG 0875I just can’t imagine how the photo from my March 19th 2013 blog was found!
IMG 0874So there you have it….LIVE JOYFULLY!

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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.