Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Blessing

The word "bless" comes from an Old English word meaning "blood," because blood was used in consecration rituals.

I've always wondered (because I don't think dictionaries and the people who write them are the last word--ha, ha--on etymology and definitions) if "bless" weren't related to the French, "blessure," which means "wound."

What would it be like to consider wounds as something that blesses us? That blood--the river that flows through us--has the ability to make things holy?

Yesterday, while struggling to remove a stubborn plastic lid, I cut my finger open. There was lots of blood, quite freely falling onto the ground.

It's my right middle finger, thank goodness, not one of my left digits--but nonetheless, it threw me for a loop (and makes typing a painful exercise). My hands are my tools, especially because I finger paint.

Granted, there are artists out there who paint with their feet or like the unstoppable Chuck Close, their mouths and specialized forklift things. Andy Goldsworthy, an artist whom I greatly admire, has cut up fingers all the time from the sharp brambles and objects he twists and bends and tears to create his ephemeral sculptures (he slaps some bandages on and keeps working).

I'm not saying I couldn't do that (I gave up brushes to paint with my fingers, I'm sure I could give up my fingers and paint with something else or heck, pick up brushes and pencils again), or that this injury is in any way equal to the challenges of people with physical disabilities and pain. All I'm saying is that my wound gives me pause.

It makes me grateful.

It makes me more determined.

It makes me realize how often my right middle finger is involved in my everyday activities (and it doesn't include giving the bird to obnoxious drivers--they're already in a hell of their own making).

It slows me down to appreciate things I don't usually give myself time (or the patience) to appreciate.

I got back quite a bit for my little sacrifice of blood. I humbly offer it here, my personal blessing.

A Happy New Year to you all, and thank you for joining me on this journey.



Friday, December 28, 2007

New from Ivan Chan Studio! Change Is Inevitable SOLD

Change Is Inevitable, oil on canvas, 24" x 30" SOLD
Finger painted

Please click on the image to read the description, see detailed pics, and to make an offer on this Original Finger Painting.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

I'm on the road again...

Hi all,

Not quite back home, but on my way! Thanks for your patience, the customers who have ordered artwork from me this last week--I'll have your shipments out by the end of the week.

On my way back, I'm looking forward to experiencing the art of Murakami at the Geffen Museum of Contemporary Art. It's quite racy in parts, but seeing art is like seeing the insides of someone--it can be someone's head, heart, stomach, genitals--anything. Art is the human experience made visible.

More later,


Friday, December 21, 2007

New from Ivan Chan Studio! There Is No Other SOLD

There Is No Other, oil & acrylic on canvas, 24" x 24"
Finger painted

This Original Finger Painting from my Here Kitty Series is sold but can still be viewed in my gallery.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Patience, pastels, and inspiration

I'm fighting the dregs of a cold that hindered my productivity last week, but it's the tail end of re-inventing the way I work so I welcome the forced slowness with which I've approached my latest painting. It's made the experience more fun and thoughtful, and less pressured.

The last two years since I've offered my work online I've pushed myself pretty hard, seeing so many artists do "a painting a day." For me, that's not the rate at which I paint. I do admire those who can paint that quickly and maintain a level of quality that's enviable! However, I'm about a painting a week, and even then, that rate was taking its toll on me.

Don't get me wrong. Making art is fun and it envelopes you until you lose sense of time. It's also a lot of work: I think all day as I run my errands and manage my business about color and shapes, striking images and subtle concepts. It looks like daydreaming, believe me, I know--but traveling the Imagination takes fortitude. Where do my images come from? Why the blue cats, why cherry trees (and can I say, trees are notoriously difficult because their branches go this way and that, all abstract and organic!)? How come that Buddha looks like that? Why choose that particular moment in a myth?

I seek my symbols. I meditate for them. I stare at my canvas until I see things. I gaze at the clouds until my eyes are open but I'm seeing the insides of my memories. I listen to rain until it tells me a story.

My teachers are many. I acknowledge them constantly in my work and in this blog and when I talk to collectors and art appreciators. Originality is important, and so is the foundation upon which it's built: I draw from both Asian and European roots because that's who I am, and that shows up in my style, subject matter and choice of media. I love the Impressionists and Expressionists, the Chinese masters and the Japanese printmakers, the anonymous Tibetan thangka paintings and the pop art of tiki and comics artists. I'm not done with the list, not by a long shot. My inspirations are many, and I only find it respectful to say "thank you" to them for teaching me about exciting color combinations, intriguing compositions, and how to explore the exotic landscape of my dreams.

A longtime favorite artist of mine is the French Symbolist, Odilon Redon. Fran├žois Peneaud introduced me to him, for which I will be forever grateful. Just tonight, on a gift-seeking mission for the winter holy days, I found yet another book on Redon at one of my favorite bookstores, Logos. It's all about his pastels!!! Yes, three exclamation points. His pastels are luminous and made of pure dreamstuff. It's a medium I would love to work with soon.

Inspiration is hard to come by; it's like being open to wonder 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. If anybody (alive or dead) is going to make it easier for me, I will proclaim my gratitude and show my respect. Credit where credit is due.

Otherwise, I'd be just a copy cat.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Spotlight on Portrait of a Hippo Open Edition Fine Art Print benefitting WWF

Portrait of a Hippo, 8.5" x 11"

Print benefiting World Wildlife Fund

Please click on the image to read the description, see a larger pic, and to purchase this lovely fine art print.

Bookmark and Share

Friday, December 14, 2007

New from Ivan Chan Studio! Deep Kitty print

Deep Kitty, limited edition print, 13" x 19"

Please click on the image to read the description, see detailed pics, and to win this highly limited edition print (2 out of 3 remaining) at auction within the next ten days.

I'm it! Five things you don't know about me (I think)

Artist bloggers play a game called "tag" where know, tag you.

What this means is that you get to reveal five things about yourself that people who don't know you...well, don't know.

I'm sick! That's my excuse for sounding a bit loopy.

Anyway, my friend and talented artist, Michelle Wiebe, just tagged me and so here I go:

1. I'm red-green color blind. It's a matter of degrees, so I can't see hue (color) very well, but I can see tones (dark to light). The question I get asked most is, "What do you see, then?" which can never really be answered to anyone's satisfaction by description or the technology at hand, but I can tell you that reds look like browns and greens look like greys; if the color is bright enough, I can see the difference. I depend on the labels on my art supplies and my understanding of color theory when I paint--the rest is just instinct. I heard that there were corrective lenses for this sex-linked trait, but none of my optometrists or ophthalmologists through the years have heard about it, so I'm still waiting. The military does have an use for red-green color blind folks, though--camouflage doesn't fool us, whoo hoo!

2. I'm left-handed. When I was a child, my parents tried to switch me to being right-handed for my own good, and it caused an awful stutter. When they finally gave up, the stutter disappeared, and now I'm a proud south paw. Oh, and when I write, it's with the paper perpendicular to me, so I'm writing vertically. For my family--people who appreciate calligraphy and generally the art of writing--this is quite the party trick at gatherings. "Oooh! Write my name next! Oh! Oh!"

3. I speak 3-5 languages at any given time and can pick up a language very quickly. I think it comes from a childhood of interpreting (verbal) for my elders who spoke little to no English. Among the languages I speak fluently is American Sign Language.

4. I have a degree in Creative Writing, which I put to good use up until three years ago when I gave up a career in writing and decided to make art instead (if you read the descriptions of my artwork, you can tell I never fully gave up words).

5. When I was a kid, I almost got a part in a TV movie and later, a regular role on a sitcom. I'm not tellin' which!

Right, so here are the five artists I'm going to tag! Deborah Company, Aman Chaudhury, Gail Schmidt, Jessica Torrant, and Phil Gladstone.

Ivan Chan Studio: Invite Beauty

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I be illin'

I'm sick and feel terribly right now, with sleep being the best medicine. That doesn't mean I'm a good patient.

So the latest painting I've been working on has been more of an experiment in process and emotion than anything else.

It's process-oriented because I'm a fan of sketches and unfinished work (Michelangelo's figures, coming out of the stone, are rumored to be unfinished rather than purposefully left in the stone as his publicists would have it) and rarely do I let myself enjoy a work as it is before "finishing" it. But this time, I'm allowing myself to savor the image as it develops on the canvas. I'm reminded of animation cels, if you've ever seen them--a character caught in mid-motion on a transparency, not even a background behind it. It's this kind of minimalism and floating-ness of figures that transports me into a place of direct experience rather than thoughts or concepts. I love the simplicity.

Perhaps it's a similar longing parents have for their children to remain young and innocent forever; a tightly curled rosebud, a Peter Pan destined never to grow up, never to change. However, a fully bloomed rose is beautiful and spectacular, as is an independent and mature person--even if they are wholly different beings than when they began.

As for the emotional part, I find myself wanting to express the more turbulent feelings. My work tends to appear peaceful and introspective, even melancholy--but this particular painting (which will be in my Here Kitty series) is moving towards something more dynamic.

I've been studying the wrathful deities in Mahayana Buddhism for inspiration and wisdom on how to channel these feelings artistically and philosophically. The wrathful deities in Buddhism were wrathful about ignorance, and their fierce visages were to scare off demons and evil spirits (such as addictions, materialism, etc.). They weren't evil or destructive in themselves, but I imagine that's from a certain perspective; separating an alcoholic from his bottle can be a painful and even unwelcome process--for the alcoholic. Anyway, I'm nearing the end of my research.

By the time I return to my easel, free of fever and fully rested, I may no longer wish to express such emotions on the canvas, and the image will develop in another direction. For now, though, I'm expecting something darker.

Take care,


Monday, December 10, 2007

Fab-u-lous! Interview with me on Crafts of Texture

Hi all,

Once again, I'd love to introduce you to Crafts of Texture, the wonderful blog of British fashion and textile designer, Sara Mills!

I'm interviewed by her for this week's Spotlight Feature. Please visit and leave comments and be sure to check out her other sites!

Ivan Chan Studio: Invite Beauty

Friday, December 07, 2007

Black Bamboo Blue Cat print SOLD OUT

Black Bamboo Blue Cat
Limited edition giclee print on paper
13" x 19"

This limited edition print is sold out. Please click on the image to see other Here Kitty Series paintings, limited edition prints, and cards currently available.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

You do that voodoo that you do to me

A long time ago, I visited New Orleans while on a road trip across America (I've been through two-thirds of the country, but not all the way across by car--yet). It quickly became one of my favorite cities in the world for atmosphere, music, FOOD, culture, art, and architecture.

Of course my love of religions, mythologies, and folklore also led me to the Voodoo Historical Museum! It was beautiful and the tour of the town they gave was delightfully creepy.

I promised myself that I'd go back to the city to enjoy it again, but it's almost ten years since I've been there and I have yet to make good on that promise. Katrina did intervene, and thoughts have popped up intermittently about what more I can do to help that city. It'd be an adventure to live there for a time, but for now, I may just visit for my birthday (and see how I feel).

Many of the living artists I admire make their home in the Big Easy. It would be wonderful to meet them in person (and take a tour of their studios!).

Let the good times roll,


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Spotlight on Rest

Rest, unstretched canvas print, 8.5" x 11"

Please click on the image to read the description, see detailed pics, and to purchase this highly limited edition print on unstretched canvas.

This easy-to-frame piece is a classic from Ivan Chan Studio's Merman Series.

Upcoming interview on Sara's Texture Crafts!

On Monday, December 10th, there will be an interview of yours truly on Crafts of Texture, the delightful blog of Sara Mills, the U.K. fashion and textile designer behind Sara's Texture Crafts!

An interest in textures--visual and tactile--brought Sara and me together "across the pond" on Indiepublic, a social networking site for artists and their supporters. I'm thrilled to be in her blog and look forward to sharing my art with her readers.

Please visit Sara's Texture Crafts and see all the goodies and wonders she has to offer!

Take care,


P.S. Of course I'll remind you guys on Monday, no worries!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Oh, the humanity

A friend--knowing my love of primates--told me about the awkward (but funny) pose these baboons had when crossing a body of water. I had to see it, and bless the Internet, I found it. It's excerpted from the phenomenal "Planet Earth" documentary.

Please scroll down and mute the music on my blog before watching the video. There's a symbol of a speaker in the bottom left corner that you can click to mute the sound.



Sunday, December 02, 2007

New from Ivan Chan Studio! I Can Dream

I Can Dream, oil on canvas, 16" x 20"
Finger painted

Please click on the image to read the description, see detailed pics, and to bid on this original painting in the next ten days.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Holy Chicken NFS

Holy Chicken, oil on canvas, 16" x 20" NFS

Please click on the image to see a larger version in my gallery.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sneak Preview! Here a chick

I'm such a tease.

This painting is not actually for sale, but a gift to a friend who's wild about chickens and has been a support to me in so many ways.

She once had several Araucana chickens (a breed originating in Chile and known for their lovely blue-green eggs; now they're widespread and look so varied that it's hard to identify the breed--except by the eggs) that were killed by raccoons.

Listening to her talk about chickens is like listening to a young girl talk about ponies. She LOVES chickens. I do, too--so I thought I'd paint her one.

I'll post a better pic in my gallery sometime tomorrow, I think; I may post here, too, with a link in the image that will lead you to my gallery.

Take care,


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Go wireless in state parks!

Journey of a Thousand

While researching monarch butterflies for my painting, "Journey of a Thousand," I came across the wonderful news that state parks in California are working on providing free wireless networks for park visitors! A list on their web site shows parks that have set up wi-fi (wireless fidelity) already.

Now, before you go wondering why anybody would want wi-fi in a gorgeous, natural setting like a state park, remember--state parks aren't just about camping and roughing it. They're also about beaches and campfires and relaxing, and we all relax in various ways. Some do it with laptops, others do it by getting away from it all (and maybe bringing a book!).

Personally, I'm thrilled that there's wi-fi in parks. I get to leave my studio, my desk, and be outside when I do my work and research. That's a great feeling. Plein aire computing!

I'll be staying inside for a while, though--I've been recuperating from a bug that knocked me off my feet earlier this week. It comes from having random people cough and heartily hack in my face when I'm out and about running my errands. Didn't we learn in kindergarten to cover our mouths when we sneezed and coughed? Sheesh.

Anyway, my illness has slowed me down this week in terms of new art, but with some peace and quiet in the coming days, I plan to have some work ready for the faithful. Do know that this rest for me has been marvelous, even with being sick. I've re-strategized how to take care of myself and have been enjoying working out regularly again, and will be signing up for yoga soon. Stretching! It ain't just for canvases.

May you know what you are grateful for, and may you be aware of someone who's grateful for you.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sneak Preview! I see you

I've been taking a break from my weekly Wednesday listings of new art in my store and I have to say, the rest feels good--and it's given me pause to consider the direction of my work.

As the days grow colder (well, unless you're where I live and they alternate with strangely warm days), it gets less and less comfortable to paint in oils with proper ventilation and air circulation. I find myself longing for the days of pencil, charcoal, and watercolor (and acrylic, that newfound friend)--media that are non-toxic and what's more, non-fuming.

I've been thinking about switching over to these media for a while now, but we'll see. There are a lot of images I have in my head that I think are best executed in oils and acrylics. However, I won't deny that there is an archetypal magic to art drawn on paper with something as primal as charcoal, and there is certainly a nostalgia to pencil. Remember doodling in your notebook at school or while you were on the phone?

Drawing is an introspective and introverted exercise for me that gets me back to my roots. I need to do more of it, on a slower, more compassionate schedule than before. It's important if I'm to continue doing what I do.

Tonight, I'm offering this preview sketch of an upcoming piece. Again, it's something that I've been thinking about for a long time, and is based on my reading of the myth of Polyphemus the cyclops and his unrequited love, the nymph, Galatea.

It's interesting to me that, having only one eye, Polyphemus is unable to perceive depth.

More later, rest now.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Ah, music

Like an invisible, delicate perfume, or a master storyteller weaving a tale around you, music is a pure and abstract language of emotions and ideas.

A master of this eloquent language is Billy Mallery, a composer who found my art recently through MySpace. In exploring his profile, I was entranced by ethereal and evocative notes that calmed and inspired me.

His work can be found in commercials, logos for films, and on movie soundtracks, enhancing moods and spinning narratives; a lifelong, personal project, Totality, records solar eclipses across the world, accompanied by his music.

Please visit his web site (the opening page cascades with delightful sounds, but once it quiets down, you can roll your mouse over the images and each picture acts like a piano key!), malleryscores and enjoy.

Take care,


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Change is in the air

A good friend of mine recently sent me a poem called "The Invitation" by Oriah Mountain Dreamer.

It's beautiful and inspiring. I've been rethinking how I meet the world lately, and this feels like one of the puzzle pieces, an articulation of more than an invitation, but a Constitution for my state of being.

I have also been exploring Nonviolent Communication and other methods and theories on how to communicate better, as this is central to my work and who I am as a person.

These are my offerings for this week instead of paintings. I've been busy scribbling and doodling in my sketchpad, exploring the shadows of my imagination as the days grow shorter. I need art for myself only right now, so that I may offer my art--renewed--to all of you in the coming days.

Again, I am most grateful to have you join me on this adventure. Along with the links above, I offer this quotation which went to the heart of me:

"To send light into the darkness of...[our] hearts--such is the duty of the artist." Robert A. Schumann

Invite Beauty,


Monday, November 05, 2007

Then again, maybe not

For those of you waiting for photographs of my latest art show, Doorways & Dharma, I'm afraid I have bad news for you: the photographs are irretrievable as of this writing.

I'm disappointed, as I'm sure you all are, but these things happen and we learn better what to do the next time around. I've been to weddings where, at every table, the guests are given disposable cameras to help document the experience of the wedding. At the end of the day, the cameras are collected, the photographs developed, and bingo! Instant scrapbook. It's an idea worth trying at the next art show, that and having several backups.

If I find a way to produce the photographs, be assured, I will share and celebrate them on my blog. (And if anybody reading this blog was at Doorways & Dharma and happened to be taking pictures, please contact me.)

In the meantime, I'm brewing up the next show which will be even better than the last one. I'm thinking it'll be at night, and kinda swanky. Yeah!

Now, have you checked out my paintings, prints, and cards for your holiday gift-giving consideration? Remember that you can make a "Best Offer" on my artwork through my eBay store, and if you're a subscriber to my mailing list, you're privy to specials and sales, too. Sign up! Your information is kept private, confidential, safe, and secure. I mean it! And to unsubscribe, you just send me an email. How easy is that?

Thanks again for your patience, understanding, and support. More soon!

Take care,


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

New from Ivan Chan Studio! Between Heaven and Earth SOLD

Between Heaven and Earth, oil on canvas, 12" x 36" SOLD
Finger painted

This Original Finger Painting is sold but can still be viewed in my gallery.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sneak Preview! Pelican on the wing

A friend and I were walking along the beach and spotted pelicans gliding in formation over the rolling waves. They never touched the water, and I've been told they don't scoop with their famous pouched bills while gliding--if they plan to catch fish, they'll dive for them (and that's dramatic to see, too!).

I've come back to this composition, at least thematically, twice before: the recent "Journey of a Thousand" and the earlier "Than Are Dreamt." There's something magical about it for me, something that rings true; it feels real if you've ever swam in deep waters, but there's an endless sense of mystery, and being, that these paintings elicit from me.

As with my merman paintings, I explore the idea of being in two worlds, sometimes caught and struggling, sometimes flying effortlessly and peacefully. I will come back again to this composition again, perhaps higher into the sky, and most certainly, deeper into the sea.

Take care,


Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Yes, there will be pictures!

Doorways & Dharma was an incredibly successful show thanks to the energy and generosity of Judy Ziegler, owner of Cornucopia Real Estate, and all the sponsors who joined in to make this not only a cultural experience, but a community event.

My gratitude for:

David of Chaikhana/Empty Boat, who served tea with the grace, knowledge, and wisdom that drew me to him and his tea shop in the first place.

Mark Malone, a sensitive guitarist whose ethereal music added another dimension of peace to the exhibit.

Center Street Grill, for their delicious hors d'ouevres that sustained both guests and hosts.

Pat Moore of Rivendell, whose presentation of gorgeous kimonos enriched our space further.

Marnye Livingston, an extraordinary photographer and bright spot in the world, who shared her skills and talents to document Doorways & Dharma for those who couldn't make it and those who would like to reminisce.

Christine Vollrath, a delightful, all-around helping hand who made everyone feel comfortable, welcome, and appreciated.

Ed Schaefer, a new friend whose support, mathematical curiosity (Brian's stained glass are intricate masterworks), and conversational skills made him indispensable and endearing (I think Judy either wants to adopt him or sell him a house so he'll be close enough to adopt).

Alex Dezj, a long-time friend whose encouragement made a difference when I was deciding whether to be an artist! Bringing his bud, Nelson the Chihuahua, was an added bonus.

My younger brother Leonard and his girlfriend Ruth, who were on a whirlwind trip up to San Francisco from Los Angeles and took a detour to Surf City just to hang out and see the wares. He treated to dinner (the sneak!) and enlivened our spirits with his indomitable (and raunchy) sense of humor.

Kenneth, whose stories about chickens are unforgettable, and who helped us clear out the Art Center in record time.

And to everyone who came to our show: a mighty thank you! Your ooh's and ah's, questions and compliments, time and interest were gifts. We are honored to have had the opportunity to share art, tea, and music with you.

Beauty is more than pretty, isn't it?

Take care,


Friday, October 19, 2007

Doorways & Dharma

Please join us for a celebration of art, tea, and music this Sunday!

For more information, please click on the image or visit my web site.

Ivan Chan Studio: Invite Beauty

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

New from Ivan Chan Studio! Journey of a Thousand SOLD

Journey of a Thousand, oil on canvas, 12" x 36"
Finger painted
This Original Finger Painting is sold but can still be viewed in my gallery.
For more Original Finger Paintings, limited edition prints, and collectible cards, please visit my shop.
Ivan Chan Studio: Invite Beauty

Sneak Preview! The Monarchs are coming! The Monarchs are coming!

Admittedly, this sneak preview is hard to see--the listing with its detailed pics will be much better.

This is a cousin to a previous painting, Than Are Dreamt. It's exploring composition, but also the themes of movement and mystery, perseverance and beauty. Compare both paintings and see what plays in your imagination.

As promised, the October colors are coming. These orange-red butterflies, the Monarchs, come through and rest in the central coast region of California from mid-October to February. They're on an intense, inter-generational migration that takes them all the way from Canada to the heart of Mexico.

It's never the same butterfly that makes the trip from north to south and back north again. The descendants of each generation continue the migration of their forebears, each generation surviving only a few weeks--except for the "Methusaleh generation" (named after the extremely long-lived biblical character), which is produced annually and lives up to eight months! (That's like you having kids that will live for six centuries.)

What a strange and beautiful world we live in.

Take care,


Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Guilty Aesthete Recants

Guilt, shame, and fear are monkey wrenches in our imagination.

It doesn't matter who threw the monkey wrench (somebody did). It doesn't matter that there's a monkey wrench stuck (we often find ways to keep it there--we might lose a favorite limb if we went in to get it out, right?). What matters, though, is that we remove it.

Have you ever heard these messages, either from yourself or from someone else?

"Who do you think you are?"

"The odds are terrible you'll succeed."

"You're being selfish."

"You think you're better than me?"

"Do something useful."

"How's your little ________ going?"

"You can't do whatever you want."

"Shouldn't you have a fall back plan?"

"I can't afford _________ to be a(n) _________."

"That's too expensive (and not worth it)."

"You need a degree."

If you've read my bio, you know that I experienced "creative anorexia" for over two decades before I started to make art again. I had to get over the idea that art and beauty didn't matter, that I needed to do something "important" like take care of people or the environment because heck, it's not like I mattered enough--or my dreams--to do merely what I wanted to do.

I exhausted almost all my other career fantasies before relenting and doing art. I'm stubborn, and I can resist like nobody's business. This isn't to say I haven't benefited from my exploration of other careers--they've certainly informed my present career and I'm much more effective and efficient than I would have been without the intervening years of experience I accumulated.

However, a lot of what I did was to avoid confronting the conflict of what I wanted to do, and what I was told was worth doing (and would make me a worthwhile person if I did it). The trouble was, I couldn't be satisfied and it was a long and miserable young adulthood.

Now I'm in my thirties. It's not too late, as evidenced by those older than me (Grandma Moses started painting in her 70's, Julia Childs became a chef in her 40's, the list goes on), to relent and live the life I've always wanted to live, without apology.

I love art. I appreciate beauty and I believe there's a purpose to beauty, beyond attraction and vanity. It inspires, calms, impassions, and more--but I don't need to justify it.

Without a purpose, beauty is still beautiful, and that's enough.

Just like us.

Take care,


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

New from Ivan Chan Studio! Trinity NFS

Trinity, oil and acrylic on canvas, 16" x 20"
Finger painted

This Original Finger Painting is not for sale, but you can read the description and see it in my gallery.
For available Original Finger Paintings, limited edition prints, and collectible cards, please visit my shop.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Sneak Preview! Three orange tulips

The simplicity of my latest paintings startle me, but I think simplicity--and emptiness--have something to teach us about how we experience the world.

Is more better? Can we delight in a single flower, or must it be a bouquet? When was the last time you touched a rose petal or had the opportunity to hold the hand of a newborn?

Some things deserve our undivided attention. Rather, we must give our undivided attention to certain things if we're to know ourselves better. There's a world outside of the chattering jungle of our heads, and it's a world that threatens to bring us peace through interconnectedness.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

New from Ivan Chan Studio! Iris NFS

Iris, mixed media on canvas, 16" x 20"
Finger painted

Please click on the image to read the description of this Original Finger Painting.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sneak Preview! Irises

The iris is a plant that never fails to stop me in my tracks. From the calligraphic swash of leaves to the fluttering handkerchief of brilliant color when it blooms, it's a marvelous flower to behold.

Here, I've finger painted it against a simple golden background, highlighting it as a portrait in strength and elegance. No wonder the kings of France adopted it as their symbol, the fleur-de-lys.

Second in what may become a series, please also enjoy a painting of tulips, renamed from Five Tulips to A Garden Elsewhere.

Ivan Chan Studio: Invite Beauty

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

New from Ivan Chan Studio! A Garden Elsewhere NFS

A Garden Elsewhere, oil and acrylic on canvas, 20" x 16"
Finger painted

Please click on the image to read the description of this Original Finger Painting.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sneak Preview! Tulips

This painting is a distillation of tulips from their field of green leaves.

Floating on a background of gold, the idea was suggested by how simple and beautiful the sneak previews of my last painting, The Flower of Compassion Sows Gardens, were when I only sent tightly cropped photos of the iris and tulips on the golden ground color (before I had painted the background) to my newsletter subscribers (see what you get when you subscribe? That plus specials like discounted shipping and other goodies!).

I enjoy the elegant aesthetic of sketches and minimalist art, and have heard likewise from subscribers. I look forward to making some paintings, probably florals, in this style.

Perhaps a reaction to the details present in The Flower of Compassion, but my art confesses a strive for balance.

A friend of mine may recognize these tulips from a trip we took to Butchart Gardens three, almost four, years ago! (And some of you long-time readers may recognize an earlier acrylic sketch of these same tulips.)


Monday, September 17, 2007

The Tangerines Flew and the Boy Dreamt

I attended Balance 4 Kids' annual fundraiser, Bids for Kids II and had a delightful time. Robert Strong, "The Comedy Magician," performed a hilarious show and was an excellent auctioneer. I'm looking for photos from the event so I can post them here and share them with you!

Besides being honored as the featured artist, with my painting used on the invitations and event guides, Vicky George (one of Balance 4 Kids' founders) let me know that the entire program's design was inspired and based off of my painting, Flying Tangerines with the Stars as Blossoms! Although she claims the pleasure was all hers, I have to say, this is one of the highest compliments I've ever received for my art.

I have to confess, it's taken me a while to conclude that art matters in the world. Perhaps a funny thing for an artist to say, but I was raised a pragmatist and, not unlike so many other squelched artists, was told that art wasn't important and that I had better do something useful or practical if I planned on surviving.

I'm so glad I'm over that. It's high time I get unreasonable and impractical, especially if that means being true to myself and what I wish to share with the world. (I'm no longer under the illusion that I can change the world, but I certainly can make my offering to it.) I highly recommend it. Besides, being reasonable and practical hasn't gotten me where I want to be (although I think hitting rock bottom is a blessing of which almost everyone could benefit).

This isn't to say we should all quit our jobs or abandon the people who need us--but like the ants in the fable, preparing for a change of season is in our best interest.

Lastly, I'm looking forward to a special charity auction for Balance 4 Kids on eBay. It will be with a highly limited edition print of a painting--to be revealed later.

Keep your eye on Insight!

Take care,


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

New from Ivan Chan Studio! Little Beauties: Koi Series set

Little Beauties Art Cards: Koi Series set
Ten 5" x 7" cards & envelopes
Five original images from Ivan Chan Studio's Koi Series

Please click on the image to read the description, see detailed pics, and to purchase the latest collectible set of Little Beauties Art Cards from Ivan Chan Studio.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Bids for Kids II 2007

I have the great honor of being the featured artist at this year's Bids for Kids, an annual fundraising auction for the Balance Foundation.

The painting at left, Flying Tangerines with the Stars as Blossoms, is on the invitation and Balance's web site. Another painting, Dreaming Boy, is also up for auction to help benefit children with special needs.

To find out when the event is and more, please visit the Events section of my web site under News!

Take care,


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

More connections

I've added new links to the Links section of my web site!

Please visit and take a spin through another avenue on the Internet!

Ivan Chan Studio: Invite Beauty

Friday, August 24, 2007

Tangaroa wallpaper for newsletter subscribers!

I'm offering this original, one of a kind, computer desktop wallpaper titled Tangaroa Dreams to subscribers of my weekly newsletter, Inviting Beauty.

If you'd like to receive this wallpaper, please join my mailing list by sending me your email, which I'll keep under lock and key (i.e., private, safe, secure, and confidential). Unsubscribe at any time by sending me an email--it's as easy as that.

If you're already on my mailing list, just hit "reply" on this week's newsletter and let me know you'd like Tangaroa Dreams.

Ivan Chan Studio: Invite Beauty

Wise water

A friend of mine sent this to me. It's from Stephen Mitchell's translation of Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching:

Fill your bowl to the brim
and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife
and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people's approval and you will be their prisoner.

Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.

The philosophy of Lao Tzu (or Lao Zi as it's spelled these days) was all about nature and letting things run their natural courses. He didn't advocate education and striving but instead rooted for a life unencumbered by civilization or society. Of course, we can take what we want of any philosophy (and even religion--not everybody in a congregation believes the exact same thing, let alone members of a denomination) and use it to suit (and shape) our lives.

Take for example, Benjamin Hoff's The Tao of Pooh. Or Star Wars (yeah, the idea of the Force? That's the Tao. The idea that there's still good in a dark and evil figure like Darth Vader? Similarly expressed in the Taoist yin-yang symbol). You don't have to quit school and hop in a VW bus (or better yet, walk barefoot) to be a Taoist, but what you can learn from a philosophy that's based on the wisdom, peace, compassion, and strength of water might well smooth over your rough edges until you're as perfect as a river pebble.

Take care,


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

New from Ivan Chan Studio! Call of Nature

Call of Nature, oil on canvas, 18" x 36"
Finger painted

Please click on the image to read the description, see detailed pics, and to make an offer on this Original Finger Painting.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Sneakier Preview! Pan goes a-courting

So I did some research on the difference between fauns and satyrs, and supposedly, the fauns are cute and innocent while the satyrs are ugly and worldly (often drunk but considered knowledgeable).

The Greek nature god Pan has been described as a satyr (half-man, half-goat), but I would like to think of him as a faun--he was known to be a romantic and quite mischievous, especially with nymphs (divinities who looked like women and lived in trees, rivers, hills, etc.). Many are they who love a bad boy.

Although satyrs have lent their name to the compulsive sex disorder known as satyriasis (the counterpart to the more familiar nymphomania), and their legendary and shameless romps have led to their appropriation by belief systems not-so liberal with sexuality (what major belief system is these days?), I've taken the "let's make love in the great outdoors" approach to my depiction of these playful creatures. Nature, after all, put courting (and horniness--ever wonder where that term came from?) into our genes. It would be unfair not to acknowledge the joy of being alive--physically alive--in this world, and only to focus on spirit: as if flowers didn't arise from dirt.

A better pic, as usual, when I list this piece. Thanks for sneaking a peek with me!

Take care,


Monday, August 20, 2007

Waiting for paint to dry

While waiting for the ground color on my next painting to dry, I decided to do a rough sketch of a bodhisattva (Buddhist saint) statue's head I found in one of my books on Chinese art.

This statue dates to the 8th century CE (Common Era), during the fabled golden age of China, the Tang Dynasty.

Another bodhisattva I painted, Dharma Bodhisattva, was also based on a statue of the same era, but from Nara, Japan (when they were heavily influenced by the Chinese Empire). There's a similarity in rotundness of features and the stylized hair which I enjoy seeing in East Asian statuary of this period.

Take care,


Sneak Preview! Sketch of a faun

I've been wanting to paint some fauns (satyrs, but not as goaty?) for a while, so I finally broke down and went over my research again and sketched this mischievous looking fella. The pic to the right is a crop of a larger sketch that includes most of his body.

If you're curious about my research, I studied goats from Greece, as well as sculptures and paintings of goats and satyrs from ancient Greece, to get a feel for how I'd create my interpretation of the much interpreted faun.

I would have started painting this piece but for lack of a proper canvas size. I think this ragazzo belongs on an 18" x 36" canvas, but all I have right now is 15" x 30". Same ratio, but the larger size will match the subject and also be easier on my technique (that is, finger painting). Off to get more supplies!

An hors d'oevres for thought: could it be the unbridled (and unguilty) sexuality of satyrs and fauns that led to their demonization?

Right, it's past my bedtime. Thanks for reading!

Take care,


Friday, August 10, 2007

Quiet as understanding, deafening as realization

The Fountain, starring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Wiesz and directed by Wiesz's intended, Darren Aronofsky, received almost universally bad reviews.

"It's pretty," my friends would tell me, "but it's boring and the plot is convoluted."

"Pretentious," wrote film critics.

So a year later, my brother gives me the DVD and I watch it.

Blame it on the low expectations, but I was glued to the screen. I enjoyed every minute of it. There's eye candy and then there's an eye feast. This movie isn't really a movie with a story or a plot--it has one, for structural purposes, and I can even say I like the story--rather, it's a painting. Or like a painting. (And aren't movies "moving pictures"?)

Maybe it's because I enjoy Romantic and Symbolist art that I enjoyed this movie. I don't mind a loose plot, like I don't mind art that isn't realistic. I like images infused with ideas and emotions, and that's what defines this film: ideas of life and death, attachment and liberation; the emotions of grief and longing, acceptance and peace. The scenes are in chiaroscuro, the rich palette of Earth and autumn, and eventually, the soft brilliance of light-capturing Impressionism.

It's a beautiful film with a beautiful soundtrack: an experience. If you've hesitated on seeing it, don't lower your expectations, change them. Use the eyes you'd use if you were in a museum, or a church, or a temple--there are narratives in pictures in all those places of worship and ritual (a "museum" is a "temple to the muses"), but again, the narratives (logical and linear) often play second fiddle to what the images can do.

Art, in these overstimulated times, may appear like a passive, inactive thing--hanging on the wall or waiting on a computer server somewhere out in cyberspace. It's not. At least, not what I aim to create and what inspires me.

Art can be a key or a stick of dynamite. It's a human-engineered epiphany fuse. You use it to unlock something inside you, or to blow yourself wide open.

Why would you want to do such a thing?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

New from Ivan Chan Studio! Sacred Blue Hippo SOLD

Sacred Blue Hippo, mixed media on canvas, 16" x 20" SOLD
Finger painted on collage

This beautiful Original Finger Painting is sold, but can still be seen in my gallery.

For more Original Finger Paintings, limited edition prints, and collectible greeting cards, please visit my shop.

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New from Ivan Chan Studio! Fly Away SOLD

Fly Away, mixed media on canvas, 16" x 20"
Finger painted on collage

Please click on the image to read the description, see detailed pics, and to purchase this Original Finger Painting.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Sneak Preview! Blue hippo

I have a set of 16" x 20" canvases that I plan to use for my next set of paintings. I haven't used that size since one of my earliest paintings offered on eBay, Burning Monk. It's fun to return to this size and see what it encourages me to create.

Speaking of encouragement, I've had a lot of requests for more Buddhist art--work that would fit in my Buddhist Series. Sure! I love to do work in all my series, it's just a matter of time, inspiration, and research before I get to one or another series in my painting cycle. (And I admit, it's been a while since I replenished some of my series--thanks for standing by your man while I was painting something else.)

I also wanted to take this post to acknowledge once again the great influences in my work. My art is often an homage to the art I love--so you'll definitely see my admiration for Chinese brush painters and the art of the T'ang Dynasty, Japanese printmakers such as Hokusai and Hiroshige and the art of the Nara period, symbolists of Europe such as Odilon Redon, Franz von Stuck, Ferdinand Khnopff, Gabriel Dante Rosetti, tiki carvers of Polynesia and the United States, and contemporary artists like George Rodrigue of Blue Dog fame and my friend, the mystical-magical Greg Spalenka.

Picasso once said something to the effect that mediocre artists copy and great artists steal--which is hilarious.

What happens if you say thank you?

Take care,


Sneak Preview! Fly Away

On a recent visit to my family, I picked up my mother's calligraphy practice sheets. She had so many she was lamenting what to do with them (besides recycling them) and I offered to take them and incorporate them into my artwork. She happily agreed, and I'm glad to "collaborate" with my mother on some of my paintings!

I've been busy studying Chinese and Japanese art the last few weeks. A crash course, without a doubt--I mean, people make careers out of studying the extensive art traditions of both of these cultures. However, since I never had much of a taste for school, I prefer my education to follow my curiosity, at my own pace. So I've been devouring, night and day, books on these two subjects.

I plan on one day devoting time to studying the Eastern art forms with master teachers. It's too beautiful to pass up.

Take care,


All Dressed Up and Somewhere to Go

Okay. Let it not be said that for vanity's sake, I didn't post at least one pic of my reception this past May at The Mill Gallery.

Here I am, in a nice suit, mid-sentence. I owe my friend, Alex, for taking this pic. Boy, do I owe him.

Anyway, it was a fun night and I'm finally giving in and posting this pic. Enjoy, and hey--if you have the chance to show up at one of my receptions the next time, please do. I promise to look better in person (okay, that was a concession to my vanity).

Take care,


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Re-Newed from Ivan Chan Studio! Desire SOLD

Desire, oil on canvas, 16" x 16"
Finger painted

Please click on the image to read the description in my gallery. For more Original Finger Paintings, please visit my shop.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Spotlight on Found and Lost SOLD

Found and Lost, oil on canvas, 16" x 12"

Please click on the image to read the description and see this Original Finger Painting from my Merman Series in my gallery.
For more Original Finger Paintings, please visit my shop.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Stars on thars

Remember when you got a gold star for being a good student? Remember how good it felt?

Okay, when I got my blue star from eBay--meaning I received 50 positive feedback stars--I felt good. Great, in fact! I work hard to make sure that what comes out of my studio--from the paintings to the packages they're shipped in--are of the best quality. My customers (and the artists I have patronised) have respected and honored my efforts, skills, talents, and good business practices by giving me these stars.

I'm grateful. Thanks to everyone, from the very first to the fiftieth--you've made being an artist a wonderful and fulfilling experience!

Take care,


Ivan Chan Studio: Invite Beauty

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Framed limited edition print of Dharma Bodhisattva SOLD

Dharma Bodhisattva, limited edition print of 5

This framed limited edition print has been sold. Please click on the image to see other artwork in my Buddhist Series, including Original Finger Paintings, limited edition prints, and cards.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Art to fill your heart

This is a beautiful ACEO (Art Card Editions and Originals) by the very talented (and frequent reader of my blog), Michelle Wiebe.

I won this original painting (Delphinium Fairy) at auction recently and am absolutely stunned by the gorgeosity of Michelle's work! So much detail in such a tiny space--and I'm not just talking about lines, but such things as the detail of this fairy's face. Look at the eyes, the mouth, the tilt of the head, the magical curls of the hair. And then on top of that, there are the details--the delicate washes of color, the exquisite black lines that define...this photo really can't capture everything you see in the real painting!

Please check out Michelle's work through her blog (MW-ARTCO in the list of Artist's Blogs I've got going on the left)--from there, you can see her Etsy shop and eBay auctions. Well worth your time perusing!

Take care,


Monday, July 23, 2007

Little Beauties Art Cards: Reawakened Set

Little Beauties Art Cards: Reawakened
Set of 10 Cards & Envelopes

Please click on the image to read the description, see detailed pics, and to purchase this wonderful set of cards.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Reorganized surprise!

Have you visited my gallery lately?

I've just updated it!

Before, on the right side, you could pick from sets of my paintings--all of the Here Kitty Series, all the Koi paintings, etc.

Now, I've organized these sets into collections! For example, all of my work in series (Here Kitty, Buddhist, Merman, Tiki Series) are now in one convenient collection.

Please check out my gallery and if you have any suggestions, I'm all ears.

Take care,


Thursday, July 12, 2007

New from Ivan Chan Studio! Fugu! NFS

Fugu!, acrylic on canvas, 24" x 24"
Finger painted

Please click on the image to read the description, see detailed pics, and to purchase this whimsical Original Finger Painting!

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Sneak Preview! Mr. Brightside

In tiki bars you'll inevitably find a pufferfish (blowfish) lamp.

There's something whimsical and morbid about these lamps. The fish aren't endangered as a species, but the quirky idea of putting a lightbulb inside a blown up fish with its spikes out for ineffectual protection, it just kinda gets to me. (Plus, they put googly eyes on the fish because its own eyes are usually dehydrated or something.) Pufferfish lamps make me smile at the same time I say, "That's uh...sick."

But is it? I suppose it isn't any different from a leather sofa or heck, a sofa upholstered with the black and white hide of a Holstein. And what about the desire for faux fur? There's something to be said about nature's fashion sense that we should envy it so.

Anyway, apart from the whole vegetarian and vegan arguments, it's interesting how animals (people included) and plants are used in different cultures.

There's the human thigh bone trumpet used by Tibetan monks. Red food dye we use derived from beetles. Amazon Rainforest plants for medicine. Horns and penes for erectile dysfunction. The list goes on.

So is it really that strange that somebody would find a lamp made from a pufferfish beautiful? Or fun? I'm even curious if anybody eats the meat of this poisonous fish before it gets the taxidermy treatment. It's a delicacy in Japan (the neurotoxin gives you a neat tingly feeling but if the chef isn't careful, you could get enough of the poison to kill you).

Waste not, want not.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

New from Ivan Chan Studio! Face the Tiki SOLD

Face the Tiki, acrylic on canvas, 15" x 30"
Finger painted

This painting has been sold, but you can read the description and see a larger pic in my gallery.
For more Original Finger Paintings, limited edition prints, and collectible cards, please visit my shop.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Sneak Preview! Face the Tiki

This is a Marquesan style tiki, based on the tikis created by the people of the Marquesas Islands (related to the Maori).

Another tiki painting using these stylized features can be found in my triptych, Something Tiki This Way Comes (the yellow tiki with the blue background).

I really wanted to go more abstract with this painting--more expressive colors and lines, especially since the last painting was more controlled. I figure if I'm going to use a gooey liquid medium (made the gooier by the addition of a molding paste for luscious texture), I might as well cut loose and see what happens. I enjoyed a previous venture into this style with my painting of Chaos/Control, so heck, why not with tikis, since they lend themselves to this sort of playfulness and passion.

I also wanted to work on facial features that weren't European or East Asian, but more South Asian and Pacific Islander. It's a relief to work with a broad nose and thick lips--to delight in the features of all peoples (even if it's abstracted like it is in this painting), especially those that look more like me.

During my research in to tiki, I found a site that discussed the ta moko, or facial tattoos, of the Maori. (I find the designs beautiful, but have refrained from using them in my work because it's been expressed by the Maori that not only are each moko as unique as a fingerprint, but to copy or use them without their permission is considered theft. I can respect that--it's not an equal artistic exchange if they're fighting for recognition of their culture, history, and lands). One of the comments made by the owner of the site about a portrait of a Maori chieftain as compared to a contemporary photo of a Maori, were the "refined" features of the chief and the peoples of old.

What made the features more refined? A narrower nose and thinner lips were pointed out. Hm.

It's nothing new that we project ourselves onto what we see and I think a portrait of a Maori painted by an European will probably make the man look more European! So what passes as refined--versus what, rough? vulgar?--is in fact one of those prejudices that we don't notice or question.

I want to share the beauty I see in people, in everything, as they are: from their standpoint. Of course, I'm doing this through art--a roundabout but ultimately straightforward path to the deeper truth that at our core, we are gorgeous.

Thanks for being alive with me.

Take care,


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

New from Ivan Chan Studio! Unwritten Wishes SOLD

Unwritten Wishes, acrylic on canvas, 24" x 24" SOLD
Finger painted!

Please click on the image to read the description, see detailed pics, and to purchase this quiet Original Finger Painting.