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.