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.