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!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


….was held in the Nan Rae Studio for Lisa Di Vita’s page turner of a book, ‘The Shattered Peacock’ based on a real life story of displacement and heroism.  The theme is universal and relatable for so many whether you’re living in a city other than your birth or have crossed an ocean to begin a new life.
In keeping with the theme, stunning floral arrangements were designed by creative Amy at 818.625.5243. Can you see the peacock feathers?  Amazing!Fullsizeoutput 1713fOf course food is essential and precious Marine along with her way too adorable children Alex and Alyssa were in charge of the food detail.  IMG 6104This is how Alex rolls!IMG 6107Heartfelt thanks dear Marine!
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Sweet Patricia brought the most amazing cake….way too delicious for anyone’s good….Here’s just what was left of it.
IMG 6094I lost count of the guests at 55…..Fullsizeoutput 1712c
Lovely Farnaz added so much to the discussion….all touching and heart felt.IMG 6029
As did dear Maryam...
IMG 6025Valerie had an amazing experience to share as well...IMG 6032 After her inspiring talk, Lisa was surrounded and not only were people getting a book but many wanted two or three!Fullsizeoutput 17140
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Lovely Marine brought Eleen,  her delightful, talented artist friend.
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You know how much I love my peeps!  From the left:  Lynne, Kathy, Kc and Clara!IMG 6067
O.K. Kc, you’re going to have to fill me in on this conversation...IMG 8894
Joy Bell Clara gets her book and a big smile….IMG 8888
Three amazing women: Farnaz, my brilliant inventor friend, Valerie, the Hostess With the Mostest and Marsha Ramos who is saving the planet, one project at a time!IMG 6162
I have to say that Farnaz brought everyone to tears with her relatable story….
Fullsizeoutput 1713bI was delighted Lisa Lupo could join us.  She is a devoted, brilliant curator and authority on Russian Avant Garde art...
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I have to say these two, Maryam and dear Patricia, are truly the sweetest of the sweet!IMG 6077
We had great fun remembering the book signing for lovely, talented Lissi Kaplan here with fiancee Doug.  Amy, you’re amazing!IMG 6044
After getting three copies, Ralph was already enthralled by ‘Shattered Peacock’!IMG 6052
Max, this precious, adorable baby brought his parents Cole and Becca!
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The end of an amazing event in the studio… Lisa with producer, director hubby Chuck Bowman and producer son Stephen.
IMG 6091Special thanks to Nikka who worked over and beyond to make the event perfect and to Connor who was our driver in charge.
And to think I get to enjoy these exquisite flowers!  May you find beauty everyday!IMG 6099
You can order a copy of ‘Shattered Peacock’ at Amazon:
For inscribed copies please email Lisa at


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.