Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Jury duty (but in a good way)

Hey, more good news!

I've been invited to be one of the jurors for the Scotts Valley Art & Wine Festival coming up on August 11 and 12, 2007.

Again, I'm honored to be selected and look forward to helping the arts commission fulfill its mission of encouraging creativity, diversity. and interest in art in general and local artists in particular!

I'll log this in my Awards & Articles section of my web site.

Take care,


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

New from Ivan Chan Studio! Than Are Dreamt SOLD

Than Are Dreamt, oil on canvas, 12" x 36"

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

Everyday Beauty update

Cafe Press has gotten back to me and let me know that there was a "redundant systems failure." What this means is the main computer the images were stored on and its backup both crashed and now they're working to get the images reloaded.

Seeing as this isn't an issue of the images being inappropriate as they had first described to me, I've gone ahead and used a lo-tech method: I've deleted the images stuck in limbo and uploaded them again.

Ha ha! What's that they say about old age and trickery being unconquerable?

The stickers are back! Yeah!

Take care,


Monday, April 16, 2007

Sneak Preview! More things in heaven and earth

This image came to me as I did research for the next painting in my Buddhist Series.

Needless to say, it's not a bodhisattva (Buddhist saint), deity, or earnest disciple, but turtles are one of the ultimate ultimates, if you ask me.

Anyway, this is a simple painting, but it really gets me in the kisser--it makes me want to call up my friends in the middle of the night and harass them about turning on their computer and directing themselves to my blog to see this sneak preview.

The canvas is 12" x 36", same size as See and You Shall Find and Out on a Limb, as well as Narcissus. The reason I like narrow canvases is because it makes a painting scroll-like, allowing me to bring in the influence of the East Asian paintings I grew up admiring.

I've been emphasizing texture and strokes in my work lately (see if you can find the ghost flower in the last koi painting), which is a departure from the usual smoothness I aim for; it's fun making a painting more of a painting, to put more of my spirit into my work.

Thank you for your kind attention. More later!


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sneak Preview! Flow over

I've been admiring paintings that have faux frames painted on them--often roughly--and decided to put one on one of my signature koi paintings.

However, I had to play with the convention a bit and so added a touch of surrealism--it's a bit hard to see in this sneak preview, but in the lower left corner, the water from the pond flows out of the frame. I do like playing with ideas of space...looking down on a pond (an improbable view, unless you've got a pond underneath a glass strong enough to hold you while you lie down and admire the fish) while at the same time having the depicted water flow downwards, acknowledging the way the painting's meant to be hung. I did a similar thing with the painting, Wisteria Mysterium, where the wisteria frame the koi, so the viewer is simultaneously looking across and down on the image.

I really enjoyed the addition of river pebbles in this painting, too. I went to a restaurant where river pebbles were a strong feature of the design, and where the nearby ocean took on the same blue-black color. I had to put some pebbles in this picture, which I think also suggests depth and and transparency of water.

Most koi live in brackish ponds--brown and green water.

Aren't I romantic?

More later,


Friday, April 13, 2007

Magic carpet ride

I've gotten some strong reactions to my latest work, Chaos/Control.

This makes me feel like I'm doing a good job being an artist. If people felt nothing about my work, then I haven't accomplished my task.

I'm a moonshiner of human experience--I take my individual life and distill it to share with other people. My moments of peace, sadness, joy, frustration, transcendence and more are not unique to me--they're part of being human.

But sometimes you need to get drunk off your ass from music, poetry, art, and dance to feel human.



Can't complain

Two friends recently told me about a church that initiated "complaint-free zones."

Tired of hearing his congregation complain, the pastor created bracelets for them to wear. For 21 days (the time it takes to break a habit), they were not to complain. If they did, they would have to switch the bracelet to the other wrist and start over.

I haven't done the research on this story yet, so I don't have all the details, but what I've heard about this complaint-free zone intrigues me. What do people do if they don't complain? Isn't a certain amount of venting useful?

When I complain, it allows me to know what I'd like to change. Sure, there are times when I complain just to complain, but when my friends and I do it, we always end up laughing. It's a way of telling a funny story, or finding the humor in a painful situation.

Discussing what a complaint was with another friend (who has started using a rubber band instead of a bracelet), he looked it up and said it was any expression of displeasure. There's a difference between, "I have a headache" and "I have a headache and it's killing me and I wish it would stop but I've run out of aspirin and life is just really crappy!" (That's the extended version.)

In the end, I think it's the awareness that's the most important feature. Sure, the habit of complaining may be broken, but a consciousness as to what and how we think about things is invaluable information about ourselves, and I've found it motivating--just having an informal (not even a rubber band) complaint-free zone has given me energy to get things done that have been nagging me for almost a year (or more).

So I'm not going to complain about doing my taxes. I'm still at it. (No, that wasn't a complaint!)

Take care,


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

New from Ivan Chan Studio! Chaos/Control NFS

Chaos/Control, acrylic on canvas, 12" x 9"

Please click on the image to read the description for this Original Finger Painting in my gallery.

Sneak Preview! The only thing you can be sure of... death and taxes. How appropriate for those of us in the U.S. right now, even given the reprieve of two extra days before taxes are due.

This image has been brewing in my mind for a long time, struggling to come out. Is it a refined trephining, the practice of drilling holes in the skull to allow spirits to escape (or to relieve pressure that caused headaches), to paint these images? I think so.

I've used acrylic this time, and given it the benefit of the doubt when it comes to fingerpainting. Without adding a retarding medium to slow down its quick-drying nature, it was a challenge to move it around the canvas (it being a canvas panel made it easier, because there was less give in the support), but move it I did. Remove it I did, too, several times (the water solubility of acrylics is something I really need to exploit), until I came up with this image and am now letting it rest.

I owe Basquiat, Tim Biskup, and Odilon Redon for the inspiration.

Now, back to preparing my taxes.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Noise and silence

There's a lot of noise in my head. I don't notice it most times (mostly because I'm occupied with listening to it), but then there are those moments that I step outside of myself and I hear it.

(For Trekkers and Trekkies, it's kind of like listening in on the Borg hive mind. For those of you who have no clue what this die-hard geek is talking about, just keep reading.)

When are those moments I step outside of myself?

When I'm in a foreign country. A few years ago, I traveled alone to Italy for a friend's wedding, and on the way there, I stopped in France (Paris, to be exact). It was the first time I had been to Europe, and having a knack for languages, I taught myself enough Italian and French in three weeks to get myself into trouble! However, it was wonderful being around people who didn't think, speak, or do as I did. Even visiting enclave communities in the U.S., I still knew I was home and with the familiar; in Europe, I was definitely not in proverbial Kansas anymore. Taken outside of myself, my usual surroundings, and my self-conditioned environment, I moved out of my comfort zone and discovered my strengths, my wounds, my loves, and my intolerables. I heard myself like I hadn't for many years, and I'm still learning to listen to what I learned during that week-long vacation from routine.

When I'm meditating. I read in Walpola Rahula's book, What the Buddha Taught, that meditating wasn't doing nothing, it was the act of contemplating. There are different schools of meditation, some that seek to empty the mind, others that seek to fill it with an object of adoration, and still other disciplines that promote it as a method for bodily relaxation. I tend to use meditation to clear my mind--to silence the sometimes overwhelming noise I hear about this task, that complaint, this worry, that ego stroke. Meditating works for me and is usually extremely difficult; if I'm "out of shape" from lack of practice, I start off with a mere 10 seconds and build very, very slowly from there. I follow the empty-your-mind approach by focusing only on my breath. If you think this is easy, go ahead and try it (and see how long you can do it for). The masters have said that the undisciplined mind is like a monkey with its tail on fire. Mischief and mayhem!

When I'm making art. This is better than the ol' sit-down-shut-up-and-meditate approach for me. Maybe because I'm a practical person and the idea of doing something is really important to me (for now). There are moving meditations (like walking, yoga, etc.) for active people, but for me, it's making art that brings me peace, stillness, and quiet amidst the noise inside and out. Through drawing and painting, I get epiphanies, pieces of satori, glimpses of god, and a dunk in that grand oceanic feeling of being one with everything.

It's a wonderful feeling, gulping sweet air in the pervading silence above the drowning noise--but that isn't the point. I don't live to dwell in constant harmony or disruption. The point for me, as an artist and a human being, is to have perspective, to experience both the noise and the silence--to have a balance that's dynamic, like the hub of a wheel: spinning and yet unmoving in the center.

This is part of the practice of being myself.

Yeah, I need practice.

Don't we all?

Take care,


Sunday, April 08, 2007

The challenge of fear

While hanging my artwork up for my show at The Mill Gallery, I had the help of a friend who was both resourceful and had a great eye for composition (she chose an innovative way to hang my pictures that I loved).

When she saw my painting, David, before Goliath (which has recently become available again), she had the reaction most people have about it: "Nice butt."

Yes, there's a certain ass-thetic about that painting, isn't there? No need to forgive my punning--I do it quite shamelessly and any forgiveness would be wasted on my unrepentant sense of humor.

Regardless, it's been interesting listening to people's comments about my work--but The Sphinx, which I decided not to hang, has had the one that I find the most fascinating: it scares people. Mostly women.

It led me to wonder once again about what our fears teach us, how they seek to guide us. My friends are usually the ones who, when they have a decision to make, make the difficult ones--the ones that scare them, that challenge them, that they resist--because they know there's something there for them to face. Otherwise, why the strong emotion surrounding that choice?

The same principle goes for what we encounter in life. What scares us has something to tell us about ourselves. What makes us feel comfortable, happy, sad, etc. all have something to teach us. We learn from everything if we pay attention, and because we are busy living our lives, it is often the role of another member in our community to devote his or her life, talents, and skills to paying attention and pointing things out to us.

These people are our storytellers and artists, musicians and poets. If what they create makes you feel something--peaceful, frightened, furious, aroused, contemplative, confused, empowered--thank them and your own feeling heart for being reminded of what it means to be alive, and to be who you are.

Take care,


The Sphinx revisited

The Sphinx, oil on canvas, 18" x 24"

Please click on the image to read the description, see detailed pics, and to purchase this original painting.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Selected Works at The Mill! April 6, 2007 to May 31, 2007

For more information, please visit my Events section.

Please click on the images to read their descriptions and to see larger pics.

Deep Kitty
Flying Tangerines with the Stars as Blossoms
Flower Tree Koi Song
See and You Shall Find
Three Cats from the Mountain
The Unity of Our Atoms
Mystical Buddha giclee
Dharma Bodhisattva framed limited edition print
Reawakened framed limited edition print

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Sneakier Preview! Koi, tree, flower finished

This isn't the best pic, but that's what I get for taking a nighttime photo without natural lighting!

I'll post a better pic once the sides are dry and I can move it around without smudging black paint all over the place. Gives that Rolling Stones' song a different meaning.

Now, back to frantically working to finish some pieces for my upcoming show. The reception's this Friday as I mentioned in a previous post. Oy.

Take care,


Monday, April 02, 2007

Upcoming show!

I've been working out the details for a show at The Mill in Santa Cruz, California, and finally things are coming together!

This Friday, April 6, I'll be showing my paintings alongside the photographs of my talented friend, Brian Carr, for the next two months. Brian and I will be there on Friday for the art reception between 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM. For address and contact info, please visit my web site's Events section.

The gallery at The Mill is bohemian and radiates peace with an inside water fountain, rezoned industrial space tastefully decorated with handmade, rustic furniture, and holistic health practitioners in the offices surrounding it. A delight to visit!

Many thanks to Brinton Everett of Sunflower Fields of Wellbeing for inviting Brian and me to show our work in this space. The grand opening of her massage business will be on Saturday, April 7, from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM with lectures, demos, music, and food.

Come by and say hi!

Invite Beauty,


Sunday, April 01, 2007

Sneak Preview! Flower Tree Koi Song

This is a rare peek into one of my koi paintings as I'm working on it.

Usually, I leave the koi areas blank so that I can put paint down immediately and in one sitting. Other times, I make the decision later where I want the koi to be and their color(s), so I block them in with white--which then has to dry before I add colors or else it'll mix too much and not have the vibrancy for which I aim in these paintings.

The water lily was inspired by children's drawings--always with a bright, yellow sun and emanating rays of light. The tree and colors were inspired by Odilon Redon's work and my own research into trees of this area (what works of art, a tree that grows untrimmed--it's what a bonsai seeks to find and why I find them difficult to paint or draw from imagination and memory).

More details as the paint dries!

Take care,