Mystery Guest X and a new Clue about the importance of the lotus

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

This week is a twofor because I kinda forgot to post last week.

It seems that science is delivering us new ways to understand why the lotus is such an ancient symbol. It seems only right now that the ancient Egyptians connected them with immortality because genetic research is showing that is is closely related to the very first flowers.

Biologist Doug Soltis, co-lead researcher at the University of Florida in Gainesville says, "water lilies and avocado flowers are essentially 'genetic fossils' still carrying genetic instructions that would have allowed the transformation of gymnosperm cones into flowers." (More in esciencenews.)

Another interesting factoid about the water lily: last I heard it's closest living relative is actually the oak, proving that the quirks of genetics will not easily be untangled by deduction alone.

Now to Mystery Guest X. He is a painting that I have been working on. Don't be fooled by the photo - he's actually about life sized. I don't think he'll show well on the net, so I won't post a full picture, but you'l never guess his identity. [mwahaha] You'll just have to wait until I can display him in a gallery ;) (I also plan to add color to this so it's not exactly finished.) I will give you a hint. He is someone very famous throughout the world and still alive today, but the picture is also based on the koan 'Does a dog have Buddha nature?'

Sunset Clouds

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Gosh, it's getting to be a theme, isn't it? Probably my unconscious answer to the cold weather. Look for palm trees next :)

For this painting I did the cloud's outlines in milk white then used washes of color over the top. Lessons learned: the milk white needs more experimentation, and I need to get much more experience using an XXL wash brush. And a better wash brush.

Dandelion Sunset

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Nothing wrong with traditional, but we all like a bit of modern now and then, don't we? As I continue my experimentations with Asian-style painting materials, I am looking for ways to use the materials in a fresh, modern, and personal style.

This is one of this experiments. Washes of ink and color over my patent pending super secret invisible ink. I like the effect, I hope I can do more with it in the future.

I gotta be me, whatever that means.

Sparklers? In this season?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Don't mind if I do. I'll give you three guesses as to how I did this.

Red Lotus

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

 This is one of my favorite turnouts from the series of milk experiments I have been doing with my paintings. The centers of the flowers were done first with milk then painted over with red after they dried. I think they turned out some kind of wonderful.

The mums are done for

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I managed to finish painting this before all the season's mums died off. How strange! 

Well, The effect of the milk on the painting it pretty subtle, but at least there's proof of concept for ya. 

See you next week!

Burnt out enso

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

One thing I think milk is going to be very cool for is calligraphy as with this enso, a zen symbol that sort of encapsulates the idea, 'form is emptiness; emptiness is form.'

No crying over spilled milk!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Now you never have to cry over spilled milk again - just turn it into art! 

I have begun experimenting with milk. It works a little bit like invisible ink. Paint it onto paper and when you paint over it - voila! All sorts of interesting shapes start to show up. 

I've already totally ruined about half of my test subjects. It's clearly going to take a bit of work to figure out how to use effectively (look forward to some more interesting experiments in the coming weeks,) but it certainly seems like it could have an interesting batik effect if used properly.

The piece above only has a background wash at present, but you can start to see some interesting things happening back there. On the right there are some more random practice brush strokes. High contrast definitely looks good with this stuff.

Female Whooping Crane

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Continuing with the cranes, I have been working on this new pose. I think this is a female whooping crane, but I can't really get a look under the hood, so we'll just have to leave it at that. 

I can't really describe in words the sort of feelings it evokes in me. There is just this sort of calm and rounded sense of presence that words don't really do to describe. You might even say it was like calm abiding.

I haven't decided for sure if I will add some red to the composition. There's a computer generated preview of what it will approximately look like. I'd love to here your thoughts on the matter.

I am also trying to work larger. This one will be nearly 3 ft tall when complete.

Rocky Mountains foothills

Thursday, October 14, 2010

If I recall correctly, this was done looking at a picture of the Rockies somewhere in Colorado.

Whooping Crane 1

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I just finished this sumi painting last week, and it is one of my final selections to enter in a sumi paintig contest which will start Nov. 15th.

I started out wanting to paint a more lackadaisical crane but soon realized it didn't suit my current mood at all, so I went back to basics. I looked at pictures and remembered what I knew about cranes. And I thought of a National Geographic episode that showed whooping cranes and remembered how heart-breakingly beautiful they are, and this is what evolved.

This is in essence my archetypal crane, the one that sort of lives in my head. If I imagine cranes, this or it's mirror image is pretty much exactly what's in my mind. So this crane is also me. I feel it's very me-ish, anyway ;)

And the winner is....

Friday, October 1, 2010

Our Contest winner is Blythe! Congrats to Blythe and thank you to everyone who participated. You have helped me pick the best dandelion (d), and Blythe, you can contact me about your prize.

Elephant man is finished - and about time, too!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I'm not sure if I want to call him and elephant god or spirit or sprite or what. But whatever he is, he's done!

Do you know this butterfly?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I just saw this butterfly outside and I had to take some snaps. It was smaller than a quarter but so beautiful. He is so tiny and adorable I just can't stand it ^^ Gawd - why do they make me turn all girlie?

Anyway, if you know what kind of butterfly this is, please let me know!

Dandelion Contest Entry

Monday, September 13, 2010

Powered by

 Please help me pick the best dandelion to enter in a painting contest . Leave a comment with your choice for best dandelion, and at the end of the month, I will randomly draw one name to win a prize (see here and in the picture below.) You will have a choice of three designs for your prize. You should definitely leave a way for me to contact you if you want to win.

Thanks for your help!

Bad Santa come early (or so late he's early)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I actually painted this last year and meant to have it mounted and ready to post before Christmas. Sadly, right about that time my grandmother had a whole big medical to-do, and I got pretty side tracked.

Still, better late than never. And really, if you want to post anything remotely Santa-related, I suppose you have to do it in summer these days ^^

At any rate, I love, love, love this guy :D I'm not sure exactly where he falls in Buddhist traditions, but I'm assuming you don't want to mess with him too seriously.

See more at

The politics of painting

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

This piece is a little bit different, and I like that. It marks a change in direction for me because I have spent such a long time studying how to use the Chinese brush and various Chinese and Japanese painting techniques. Here, after all that work, I am able to depart from traditional subjects and lessons and begin to develop my own style with these exotic materials.

I think the Western art community has ignored the potential of this medium. Oil paints and canvases stretched on wood are still king in Western painting. There is an attitude that a painting is not real art if it's not oil and canvas, and I think that's a shame because there's a lot to be learned from Asian art practices that are every bit as impressive and important to art.

For me, a big one is learning to be in balance with the materials themselves in order to create more direct expression. Every brush stroke carries more meaning.

In current Western art practices, so much attention is focused on the new, on proving that one is a unique individual. But new for the sake of new is empty. Trying to make things look edgy and avant-garde in ways that are irreducable to some underlying concept, philosophy, feeling, or worthwhile intention, is empty.

I would rather try to be one with my art, and someday maybe I will achieve that.

To see full views of this painting and learn more about it follow the link to etsy:

Musings (can there be too many?)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Welcome to my world - a place of magic, wonder, and... magic ;)

I have been experimenting recently with mounting my rice paper paintings to colored paper, and I'm really pleased with the results so far. You can just see a bit of the blue paper that this piece is mounted to peeking through.

See more of this piece on Etsy:

The moon-winged butterfly has landed!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Well, I almost thought it wouldn't happen, but I have finished this painting, mounted it, and listed it. This painting has been a nice experience. I got to do a goof bit of experimenting with layering color, painting clouds, and doing that most difficult of artistic feats: painting a nightscape.

One of the experiments in this piece was mounting the translucent rice paper painting to a colored paper. Usually it's all just white paper I use for mounting, but this time I used a blue-brown paper. It really enhances the night atmosphere and I'm really pleased it didn't ruin the whole thing, which was a risk.

If you want to see the entire painting, it is right here for sale on Etsy:

The dancing elephant takes shape

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I am having some fun with this painting, being messy and whatnot. Is it too messy? I guess only time will tell. When I add the fine linework, that will probably change the appearance significantly. I hope it forms a pleasing contrast.

I accidentally pokes a hole in the paper, but hopefully I can fix it during mounting.

Dancing Elephant? Why not!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ok, here's one of my current projects in progress. I am working on a dancing elephant figure in what I hope is going to end up a fresh and modern style. YOu can see above what I have completed and on the right I have used the Gimp to plan out how I want to continue.
So far so good. I could still screw it up, but I have a good feeling about this one so far, from the sense of movement, to the texture of the loose brushwork.

Now with genuine color!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ok, so now I have actually put real color on this thing. I think it has come out pretty well, but I still have the issue of space. Space needs to be carefully regulated. Especially when you're like me and use a lot of negative space in compositions.

This time I have decided to use a bit of an unorthodox approach. I think, after playing around with it on the computer a bit, that I am going to make this a square painting. Usually, paintings have a rectangular shape. This lends a picture an automatic sense of direction. A picture that is symmetrical along both axes is unusual because it is harder for the viewer to orient him/herself.

This, however, seems to be one of those rare cases where an obvious directional cue is a perfect fit. Everything will be floating in this piece if it is square, but it should be appropriate rather than disorienting. Still, I wouldn't mind hearing a few opinions, so please take a gander at the proposed shape (above) and let me know what you think. Other possible shapes are below. Which works best?

very wide


Just one of my colorful little musings

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Just keeping it light this week I haven't mounted this yet, so it still looks wrinkly. But I'm a wrinkly sort of person, I guess ^^

Working the pen angle

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

So I am still finding a little time to work on painting in between sessions of tearing out drywall at my brother's new old house. I am trying to go in new directions now that I feel I have some sort of grasp of the basics.
Currently, I am working on this piece, a moon-winged butterfly. 
One of the interesting aspects of this is getting to use my new mouse pen & and drawing tablet on the computer.
I have a bad record of taking things from black and white to color, and I think this new tool is going to really get me over that. Using the pen, I can now add color to my work without ruining it in the process. I can preview color combinations much more easily and reliably than in my head.
Here's an example with this painting. The lower left leaves were done with a mouse and the butterlfy with the pen. You can see to difference in the accuracy and smoothness of the line. And it was faster, too!
I feel much more confident about painting color on top of my ink work now.
I am also using the pen to brainstorm adding some more leafy elements to the foreground. What do you think - is it better to leave the landscape very ope, or frame it with more plants?

Shocking update

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Altho in reality the only thing shocking about this is that I'm doing two posts in one week. Must be a sign of the apocalypse. So, does the girl look girly enough now?

Just a head above water (I'm sure many can relate.)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Continuing work on this drawing I have been asked to do. Well, by the time this posts, I'll probably be about finished with it. But you can get the gist of it already.

I know, I know. I should have finished it already. I have other things to do, too, ya know! I am helping my brother remodel his new old house among other things.

But what I'm really excited about is my new top-secret project. It's much bigger than any ink painting I have done before, and I have big hopes for it. That being said, I don't want to count my chickens, so I won't talk too much about it until I have something to show.

This is not the most obvious pairing, but...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ok, it's entirely possible that this pairing has never been achieved in art before. Dandelions, moonlight, and mountains just don't stand out as a grouping you would think to put together. 

Why would you? But here it is.

More or less successful. (See the whole image at right, detail above.)

I have no real explanation for how this came about other than this was what I felt like painting at the time.

It's also actually the first ink painting I have done of dandelions, come to think of it.

Does it work, do you like it, is it just plain crazy?

All feedback is welcome, so have at it!

Chance encouner

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A little while back I chanced to notice something different outside. So I ran for the camera ^^ Anyway, I knew it would be my best chance to get a clear look at this guy because the zoom mode on my eyeballs is broken. Not to mention the moment I opened the door to see if he would say, yep, you guessed it - he flapped away. But I thought it would make a nice semi-wordless Wednesday ;)

Keep your head above water 2

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

This week I started work on a commission that will be headed for Germany. It is based on one of my larger drawings, Head Above Water (see above). I have been doing more with ink than pencil lately, but it's just like riding a bicycle.

This time I have been asked to draw it with the whole head showing. A young girl's head.

In the original I wanted to focus on the reflections of the water, and also I wanted any viewer to be able to step into the role of the swimmer rising up to the neck. Changing to a full head will have a big change to the meaning of the piece. I suspect the person who asked for it to be drawn that way has a special reason.

Any road, here's how it looks just started. And you can see I like to start somewhere in the middle and let things just start to spread out. Kind of like spreading waters ;)

Splashing through the colors of the rainbow

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I was splashing through my colors, testing out my new paint formula. And here you have an artist at rest. 
I was particularly pleased by how the feet came out ^^
And what's it all mean? Artists are magic. Never forget that ;)

My work is helping kids learn to read? Check it out.

Friday, June 4, 2010

This week one of my original prints is being published in Literacyhead, an online mag that helps teachers find creative resources and techniques to help children learn to read. They have a great mission and I hope they have a lot of success. At only $30 a year for weekly, creative help with lesson plans, I think this will be a great resource for teachers allover. Hopefully they can manage to get grants or corporate sponsors that will enable them to give teachers free access in the future.

I know it may not seem like the most pressing problem in the world, but illiteracy is something that can cripple children for life. Anything out there that can help more children learn to read is worthwhile in my book, so if you are a teacher or know one who is involved in teaching children to read, consider getting or giving a subscription. You can get a free 2 week trial of the magazine here:  Subscribe

Surrealism never died anyway. So what if I undulge.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Playing with my new color paints. They seem to have turned out as good as I could have hoped. The can go from transparent to opaque and they are waterproof just enough that I can paint in layers without worrying about the colors running together.

And here is one of the fruits of my labor. This was painted from one of the drawing in my notebooks. I have this attraction to surrealism and I do a lot of free association. And when something really catches hold, I make drawings, perhaps a few note to jog my memory. 

Unfortunately, those notes very often are not good enough for me to really remember the original idea. Hence, most of my surreal pieces are nearly as much a mystery to me at they are to any other viewer. I guess it's more fun this way anyway.

So, I don't know exactly what this piece is all about, but there are a lot of ideas swirling around in my mind about it.

At any rate, enjoy.

Last week's highlight? Turtles! Yes, turtles.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Went to Cox Arboretum for a bit of a hike last week (gotta whip my sis into shape, right?) But later when we were taking some other photos (should I be mean and post pick of my sis in awkward poses? ^^) we saw these great bunches of turtles. There we lots more, these were just the best pix. 

Enjoy :D


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I don't know why I'm always making people bald and naked - I guess their vulnerability must be endearing to me ^^
Anyway, yet another head study. I don't know if they'll ever get really easy, but they are getting easier. Still totally need to work on moisture control.
Even better. I finally figured out how to get this thing to do bigger pictures. Now I feel stupid for not figuring it out sooner. Isn't that always the way with technology? I think the designers do it on purpose.

Cloud Chasing

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

You could pretty much say that chasing clouds in my mind is just about my favorite pastime.

Given how much time I've spent on the technical aspects of brushwork over the past year and my recent blockage, I decided it was probably more than high time to get back to cloud chasing.

Imaginative free play is really my bread and butter when it comes to drawing, and it's plenty important to make sure I can do it with the brush, too.

So I'm going to aim to get to a level of confidence and efficiency that I can quite simply paint as I think. Sure it's important to plan things, but so many serendipitous images crop up when you paint on the fly. You just can't pass these things up ^^

So it's time to get strong at doodling!
This time around I was liking cloudy lines.
Also working on human figures and face. Always good to get smoother at those.

Dancing elephants and things...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

OK, so I thought I was ready for spring. Naive!
The air warmed up, and I suddenly found I had so many things to do that I could hardly decide what to do first. No wonder I lost my sense of direction in painting. My head was too full - with a sinus infection, too.
At any rate, things are starting to clear up. My sinuses seem to be getting better, and I'm making progress with landscaping, fabrigami, and all the other brands I've got on the fire. It won't be long before I'm back on track, and my next project seems decided.
A nice painting of a dancing elephant god. Good times ^^

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