Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!

It's been a tough year, and here we are at the end of it.

My thanks for everyone's support and encouragement! You helped me to persevere and find my way through your wisdom, compassion, and enthusiasm. I continue to make art--to create beauty in the face of ugliness and suffering--because of you.

May the coming year bring abundant peace and prosperity to all!

Invite Beauty,


Commission inspiration

I get asked all the time if I really finger paint my work.

The answer is yes, I do. (I'm not sure what the point of lying about this would be.)

The other thing I get asked is if people can see me work--in person or on video.

And the answer to that is no, you can't.

The only person that's ever watched me work is my friend and fellow artist (he's a talented photographer, stained glass window maker, and fine art woodworker to be specific), Brian Carr. He saw me paint Meow and Zen in his living room (yes, with my fingers) while I watched him grind glass (not with his fingers) for his intricately beautiful Rope Starburst window.

It's different when you're working beside a fellow artist you respect and trust--you're not performing and you're not competing (at least we weren't). There was nothing to prove and nothing to display. We just did what we were good at doing.

So, I'm sorry, but for now, I won't be televising. Maybe in the future.

Anyway, I've also had many people ask me about what Miles the Cat looks like, so I offer the photo reference I used, taken by the collector who commissioned the Original Finger Painting, The Cat Who Came for Winter Solstice.

Originally, I had planned on using another reference, but then this one grew on me and I decided to use it instead, and I'm glad I did--the pose, the glance, those cute little paws--everything came together for the Japanese styled painting I was asked and aimed to do.

And there you have it!

Invite Beauty,


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New limited edition print! Carpe Diem

Carpe Diem, limited edition print (3)
12" x 15" x 0.5" on stretched canvas
Ready to hang, no frame necessary

This beautiful reproduction of my Original Finger Painting, Carpe Diem, is now available!

Please click on the image to see detailed pics, read the description, and to purchase it from my Etsy or eBay shops.

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Here we go again

The end of the world is nigh!!

Well, it's always the end of the world somewhere.

Somebody once explained to me the difference between the world and reality: The world is our perception of reality. So the world actually ends quite a lot--whenever perspectives change, religions die, spiritualities evolve, marriages dissolve, governments topple...

Reality, on the other hand, is what is, regardless of what we think about it. What You Don't See Is What's Ultimately There, or WYDSIWUT. Whoever gets a glimpse of reality is probably enlightened and makes comments like, "The Kingdom of Heaven is spread out upon the earth and men see it not" or "Life is illusion."

Hm. I'm wondering how I'll spend this New Year's Eve. I've hung out with my friend Brian for the last couple of years, but now that he's moved, I have to reinvent this end-of-the-world celebration for myself.

Possibly some quiet time, thinking over the year and the losses and gains it brought, for me, for people I know, and for everyone. It's been painful and wonderful.

But that's life, right?
Invite Beauty,


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

New from Ivan Chan Studio! The Cat Who Came for Winter Solstice SOLD

The Cat Who Came for Winter Solstice
Oil on canvas, 20" x 24"
Finger painted

The cat's name is Miles, which the collector requested be presented in a name scroll (per the style in Japanese prints). He was a stray living under the porch a few years ago, but now he's an adopted and beloved member of the family. Handsome and lucky fella!

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

If you'd like to commission an Original Finger Painting or reproduction by me, please contact me. Information on commissioning artwork from Ivan Chan Studio can be found here.

Happy holidays!

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Sneak Preview! The cat who came for winter solstice

Commissioned work-in-progress, mixed media on canvas, 20" x 24"

Ah. I love it when wishes come true (outside of getting what I really wanted in a restaurant; see post from a few days ago).

I had been thinking it was time for another commission to come my way and bingo! It arrived and I'm a lucky artist--because I get to paint this lovely cat!

There will also be a cherry tree and vertical scroll on the right, inspired by the works of Japanese printmakers/artists. I'll be deepening the gold when the main elements are done.

If you'd like to commission an Original Finger Painting, please contact me.


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Friday, December 19, 2008

For love of a printer

As the first session of my master's program in counseling psychology comes to a close, I'm studying, studying, studying while planning a commissioned portrait. I'm a wee bit stressed to say the least.

So of course, during the printing of my last, big paper for my Basic Addictions class, my laser printer chokes. Hard.

It's an old printer--an HP Laserjet 4L--and it's a workhorse (this is before HP merged with Compaq and they had more quality control in my opinion). I've had it since 1995 or so and it's only had a problem one other time early in its career (another paper jam). So I'm forgiving when it comes to this paper jam over a decade later.

This printer saw me through countless papers, stories, scripts, letters, envelopes, labels, a novel, and more. Sure, I could have let it die and just buy a new printer which would be cheaper than the original (these guys were like $500 in the old days, if I remember correctly) and faster--but I guess I'm just loyal to this one and figure it's not wasteful if I get it fixed (no need to recycle if I can repair).

After waiting to hear from the repair people, I called them up just now to find out that the entire printer had to be disassembled to remove the paper jam. Boy, howdy. So it's going to cost me double what I thought in terms of labor hours.

Honestly, that hurts, but what can I say? I love that printer and I'm looking forward to bringing it home.

(And I'm glad I have an inkjet printer, too!)

Invite Beauty,


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

LOST and forgetting safety

I've heard a lot about Lost for the last four years--what a great show it is, how brilliantly it's written.
Besides figuring it to be X-Files crossed with Gilligan's Island, I don't have much endurance for mystery and suspense (I get anxious with cliffhangers and resentful of the audience manipulation; it's why I stopped watching Heroes) so I avoided the show--something to watch when it's finished its run and I can rent the DVDs or borrow them from a friend or watch them all online at my own pace, without the stress of having to wait an entire week or for another season to start before the next episode.
Really, I'm just impatient.
Anyway, Lost airs on other channels and every now and then, when I'm looking for a brain break from painting, reading, and writing, I'll turn on the ol' boob tube (for young'uns, this is a nickname for the television set; now you know where YouTube probably derives its name) for a few minutes, usually while I eat. I channel surfed and half-heartedly stopped to watch an episode (I hate starting in the middle of something, too).
So this guy has a flashback, and he's chained in some restaurant kitchen when a beautiful woman enters holding a cat. Maybe it's a nod to James Bond, I think. And then she tells a story about the cat. You can watch it on the video above and her story begins at 1:35.
You see, after she was supposedly tortured by the captured character (Sayid), she and her husband went to Paris. She was terrified of leaving her apartment and would look out onto an alley every day, where she saw a cat scavenge for food. One day, children caught the cat, put it in a box, and threw in lit firecrackers.
She finally had reason to come out of her apartment, and she saved the cat.
This cat is her constant companion, purring while she sits and reads, and sleeping beside her at night. Sometimes, though, the cat bites and scratches her and the woman, Amira, explains that this is because the cat forgets that it's safe now--so she forgives it, especially because she knows what it's like never to feel safe. And this is because Sayid tortured her (he ultimately confesses after he hears her story).
We all know people who don't feel safe even when they are safe. They grow up having to defend themselves and it becomes the way they relate to the world and everybody in it. Do we forgive them?
I remember at university when the proctor would go around to the dorms at the beginning of the school year to introduce him- or her-self to the students. Eventually, he or she would get to the "no weapons" policy and tell people that they didn't have to live their urban fantasies out on the campus (and if they tried or were found with weapons, the consequences were severe).
At the time, I thought it was ridiculous that this announcement had to be made. My university was surrounded by redwoods, deer, and wannabe hippies! There was no one to defend against and if you did have to defend yourself (or felt the need to attack), I would have recommended throwing a bar of soap, tossing water on someone's joint, or spouting politically conservative rhetoric--but knives and guns? Preposterous.
The truth is, though, some students from rough neighborhoods, abusive families, racially tense areas, or who had been deeply hurt in some way didn't feel safe, no matter where they were. It could have been an institution of higher learning or a church, it made no difference. The world was a battleground for not feeling like a victim, and being in it meant reacting with either anger and violence or fear and isolation.
Healing takes time. Understanding requires listening. Compassion needs acceptance.
This is what I'm learning in school, and it's a privilege. I'm learning how to help people (including myself) feel safe so that we can communicate better with each other and listen to the guiding voice inside of us.
I assume Lost is a great show just from this segment; but I'm still not going to watch it until it's all collected on DVD!
Invite Beauty,

Would you like a side of telepathy with that?

There's this weird thing that happens when I order food.

I usually get what I want, not what I ordered.

It happens quite often. And it's not like those psychic or paranormal experiences that only happen when nobody else is around (why is it always so convenient like that?). Nope, this happens in front of people, in broad daylight, at night--whenever I don't say what I actually want and order something else.

It's not like I can't say what I want. This isn't an issue about being assertive.

For example, today, I went to a cafe. I had tried their gingerbread (soy) latte a couple of days ago when I met a collector there to discuss a commission to paint his beautiful cat (can't wait to get started on it!).

This time, I went up to the counter and ordered...a pumpkin spice soy latte.

I did want the gingerbread latte, but I love trying new things so I went with the pumpkin spice latte. However, the plot thickens: I didn't actually want the pumpkin spice latte. I didn't even want the gingerbread latte. Before I entered the cafe, I saw that they had a special--peppermint mocha!

Mm. That's what I really wanted. But I thought, nah, too much sugar and it's minty.

So guess what I got?

Of course, I didn't send it back, because in my heart of hearts, this was what I really wanted!

And this happens to me all the time. I could order a salad but I'll get a steak. A soda and get a cocktail. Everybody will hear what I ordered and--so I could test this "psychic ordering"--I would tell people what I truly wanted but didn't order because it wasn't as healthy, etc.

People are amazed all the time, but I'm just grateful. I don't know if it's the food fairy, Santa Claus, or my own personal Ganesha that gives me what I really want--maybe even need--or if I beam my wishes into the heads of servers and cooks. I just know it happens.

Invite Beauty,


Friday, December 12, 2008

New from Ivan Chan Studio! Broke Open Dream

Broke Open Dream, mixed media on canvas, 24" x 24"

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

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Sneak Preview! Flow into the open

Four views of Sky's the Limit (working title), my newest Original Finger Painting in my Koi Series.

The colors are a bit washed out for this sneak peek (that's why it's a preview!) due to the flash and iridescence in the paint, but come daytime I'll have a better shot when I prepare the painting for listing.

This particular koi painting was inspired by a commission I did earlier in my career, From Koi to Eternity, which was a beautiful triptych. I've gone with the "hang this anyway you like" feature of the inspiration piece, hence the four views to show how it would look in different orientations.

I had a lot of fun working on this painting (which actually is a revision of another painting that became the background), spurred on by the recent sale of two koi paintings, Unwritten Wishes and Change Is Inevitable (both are available as Little Beauties Art Cards) which left the Koi Series section in my shop rich in limited edition prints and cards, but with no more Original Finger Paintings! Can't have that.

It's nice carving out the time to paint again as I get a handle on my studies in counseling psychology. I've discovered a new rhythm--start and finish paintings early in the week when I still think I have enough time to finish my homework!

We've just passed the midterm and the session is coming to a close. Whew. I could use a break and more time at the easel!

Thanks for checking out my work.


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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Drive by dooring!

See and You Shall Find
Limited edition print (3 plus 1 artist's proof)

I told a fellow classmate about See and You Shall Find being near her home in Scotts Valley, California, so she went to see it.

It wasn't there.
I drove by to check it out (it was part of a public arts program by the Arts Commission of Scotts Valley, and my artwork was printed onto a utility box at a busy intersection of the city), wondering if maybe it had been the target of vandalism or something (you never know who might have a thing against koi).

It really wasn't there.

None of the art that had been awarded places along the busy street was there! Well, one on the very end of the street. But all the others had been removed--and in their places were doors.

I guess the utility boxes had been upgraded. Remodeled, as it were.
Ah, well. See and You Shall Find shared its time in the public view and I'm grateful (so were many people who wrote and told me how much they enjoyed seeing it on their commute). It was supposed to be displayed for two years (2006-2008) so it's not like this was unexpected.
I offer a print in both of my shops, but I'm promoting Etsy a bit these days as I switch it over to limited edition prints (free shipping!) and cards.
Invite Beauty,

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

New from Ivan Chan Studio! Thar He Blows

Thar He Blows, oil on canvas, 16" x 20"
Finger painted

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

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Sneak Preview! Renewed call of the wild

As I get back into the swing of things, I decided to alter one of my Original Finger Paintings, Thar He Blows.

I've written before in this blog that if something stays in my studio for a while, and I'm staring at it, I'll probably end up changing it. Which is another way of saying, my art grows with me.

There are some pieces I won't change, of course, and then there are those that call to me to play with them--to evolve them into another image.

With Thar He Blows, I've used fish scales on the merman's tail for only the second time since I've been painting mermen. The first time was for a commissioned piece (The Merman's Kiss), on the direction of the collector.

Ever since that painting, though, it's tugged at me--despite my assertion that mermen are purely mammalian and so have more dolphin-like tails (smooth)--I find the scales are attractive and add another texture to the image.

In addition to changing the tail, I've also changed the water, paying homage once again to the great Japanese artist, Katsushika Hokusai. I just love the way he paints water and I've adapted it to my own style.

Again drawing inspiration from Japanese prints, I've made the sky a delicious emerald, giving this a cool, oceanic blue-green feel. The haloing flying fish, surreal in burning orange and red, make me smile.

Circles, as a collector of mine noticed, are present in almost all of my work.

Anyway, I salvaged what I wrote last time about the conch shell for this post:

In my research for this piece, I discovered that conch shell trumpets exist in practically all cultures on all continents! I was going to base my trumpet off of a Tibetan one out of sympathy for the Tibetan people--conch trumpets were often used to signal a big event, such as a celebration, battle, or invocation of spirits--but decided instead to base it off of a species named after the Greek god Triton, one of the original mermen of myth. I did take liberties with the colors, though!

Besides the presence of conch trumpets in various cultures, it was fascinating to learn about its particular significance in Buddhism (and Hinduism), too, as one of the Eight Auspicious Symbols. Its sound is related to the voice of Buddha, calls Tibetan monks to prayer and religious meetings, banishes evil spirits, and does other good stuff.

Depending on the culture (and species), the mouth hole for the trumpet may be in the spire (pointy end) or the rounded end (this is where the Tibetans drill their hole). I admit to liking it in the spire (also known as the apex), and often see ancient carvings of mermen blowing their trumpets from that end, so that's what I went with.

And there you have it.
Invite Beauty,


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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Where is my mind?

It's true.

I've had a lot on my mind lately and ironically, all this thinking (and worrying) makes me absent-minded.

Tonight, I'm at a friend's house for dinner and I had planned to bring my textbooks to continue studying.

Where are my books? On the kitchen table. In my home.

Not. Here.

Grand. Just grand.

This leaves me with that restless desire to be productive so here I am, second post of the day, feeling mildly assuaged that I am at least making up for the past four months of scarcely posting with now two posts tonight.

Maybe I'll post again when I go home. It's the eve of December and it would be nice if November had a few more random thoughts echoing through the blogosphere.

Well, how about the sound of lightsabers dueling?

I found this video by Ryan Wieber and Michael "Dorkman" Scott on YouTube a while ago and find it inspiring. Made by amateur filmmakers for the pure joy of it, it reminds me that not only do I wish I had a real lightsaber, but that I admire and respect the creative spirit in all of us, that creates regardless of outcome, audience, or approval.

It's just fun.

Invite Beauty,


How do I feel about that?

I've shared with you over the last few months (jeez, I think it's been almost half a year, really!) my explorations into interior design or counseling psychology as a parallel profession I might pursue alongside painting.

(Apparently alliteration comes au naturel to me.)


I've decided on a master's in counseling psychology. It's something I've wanted to do for a very, very long time and I'm thoroughly enjoying my studies, which began in earnest in mid-October of this year.

This has left me little time to make and list new paintings as I adapt to my new schedule, compounded by the break I took back at the end of August after two successful art shows and nursing the heartache of saying good-bye to a wonderful friend.

I'm finally bouncing back but it's been almost four months now, so I apologize. I'm still here, I'm
learning a lot about psychology and about myself, and I know this will deeply influence how my art evolves. I just want everyone to know that I haven't forgotten about them. Sometimes you've just got to take time to gather kindling if you're going to have a bonfire!

The counseling psychology program will take two years, with a third year spent in internship to gather enough prerequisite hours before I can take the licensing exam. I'm chomping at the bit, but I also know this program will cut into my painting time, even when I do get back to painting.

The intellectual stimulation is wonderful--my art process is so intuitive and silent (except when I write the descriptions for my pieces) that it's a nice change of pace to be studying, reading, writing papers, and discussing ideas with fellow classmates. If art and beauty is the air I breathe, then psychology is the water in
which my merman half swims.

I'm happy. A little stressed, a lot behind, but happy.

Thanks for sharing this next adventure with me.

Invite Beauty,


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Escaping the cageless cage

The Mynah Escapes, limited edition print (5)
Two (2) remaining!

Part of my web site redesign was reorganizing how I offer my artwork to new and seasoned collectors.

In my shop hosted by eBay, I'll be offering all artwork that's available online (Original Finger Paintings, limited edition prints, and collectible greeting cards).

For my shop hosted by Etsy, I'm concentrating on limited edition prints and collectible greeting cards only (well, there's the ever-popular open edition print of Portrait of a Hippo that I love).

It's a strange world we live in, where we often get what we expect but don't know how we got it.

I think it's partially an issue of responsibility (what role have we played in getting or not getting what we want) and as a friend of mine would say, "knowing that you have options"--or having awareness, in other words. You can't be responsible for your role in something if you don't know or acknowledge that you have a role in it, right?

It's like getting marked wrong for a misspelling and chastised for not looking the word up in the dictionary. Oh, vicious cycle: How were you supposed to know you needed to look up the word in the first place, if you thought you were spelling it right?

My point is that if you notice something's not working the way you want it to work, don't blame it and for goodness' sake, don't do whatever you're doing harder. The tried-and-true definition for insanity is "doing something again and again, but expecting different results."

Once you're willing to break patterns--once you allow yourself to see the patterns that could use some altering and understand how ("why" doesn't matter as much, but it could be enlightening) you might have kept a bad thing going--then you've got a chance at accomplishing what you wish to accomplish.

This is what's behind my image, The Mynah Escapes. The cages (patterns, strategies, relationships, etc. that don't bring out the best in us) we live in often don't have doors and if they do, they're rarely locked. We just have to realize it and fly.

Freedom (which can be scary) is breath-taking, empty space; responsibility (to ourselves and others) gives us a place in the great wide open, direction of where to soar.

Happy Thanksgiving to all. You have my gratitude for enriching my life and it is my hope that I have enriched yours.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

"Star Wars" - an a cappella tribute to John Williams by ApprenticeA

I found this video on my friend Michelle's web site, unblunder (isn't that a rad name?), and loved it! You can find ApprenticeA's other videos on YouTube.
I also heartily recommend you read Michelle's blog--if I weren't lactose intolerant, I'd be squirting milk out of my nose from laughing so hard at her writing. She's witty, insightful, brave, and honest--another inspiring person I have the great fortune to know. Her blog will be linked in the right hand menu under the "Blogs to Inspire" section.

Anyway, John Williams pretty much scored the soundtrack to my childhood.

This post is also for a friend who loves John Williams and brought my attention to his work.


Invite Beauty,


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Monday, November 17, 2008

Spotlight on Oriental Poppies and Koi

Floating Vase of Oriental Poppies with Fluttering Koi on Golden Pond
Limited edition (2 plus 1 artist's proof)

I went to a diversity training yesterday where we discussed why people were called by certain names. It's easy to say, "Oh, that's just politically correct ('PC')" and dismiss these different terms as attempts to hide some truth.
The truth is, calling someone or a group of people what they wish to be called is not about being correct, it's about being respectful. It takes humility not to impose your name on someone and to ask, "What would you like to be called?" or "What is the appropriate term for...?"
There's nothing wrong with not knowing, no matter what anybody says. Learning is your right. What causes problems is when people refuse to learn, or are afraid to appear wrong. No one can move forward with an attitude like that, and it's sad to consider how small the world is for someone who resists understanding and curiosity. The world's a mystery and it continues to surprise, delight, and frighten us. That's what makes it so full of wonder and awe inspiring.
So--"oriental" refers to things like rugs, poppies, furniture, etc. Not people. When they were building the railroads in the West, they had supply lists of things such as buckets, dynamite, Orientals, etc. Essentially, Asians were treated as cheap things (slaves), and it's not a name they gave themselves.
Years ago, I joked with some of my friends that I'll agree not to call them "barbarians" (traditionally what the Chinese have called Westerners) if they don't call me "Oriental." We all have names for each other, but it's nice to listen and show some respect. Political correctness for its own sake, without understanding or explanation, appears stupid.
Make some sense, ask some questions!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Papa's Got a Brand New Bag (almost)

I had redesigned recently and it looks great!

Shaking things up keeps things fresh and also reflects the growth I've been experiencing as a professional artist. The
Events and Awards & Articles sections were getting a bit big for their britches under the About section (which just houses my bio now), so my web designer gave them their own page under News. A link to my blog, Insight, is right at the top!

Similarly, I offer my work through various venues and these can now be conveniently found on the beautiful
Art page. Here's where you'll have easy access to my Gallery, eBay store for Original Artwork (as well as Limited Edition Prints and Cards), and Etsy shop (for Limited Edition Prints and Cards only).

Lastly, there's a lovely
Home button on every page to bring you to the front entrance of, where there are images of available Original Finger Paintings you can click.

Please enjoy your time there and if there are any questions, comments, and suggestions, send them my way!

Invite Beauty,


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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

New from Ivan Chan Studio! Meow & Zen limited edition giclee on stretched canvas

Meow & Zen, limited edition (10)
Giclee on stretched canvas

Please click on the image to read the description, see detailed pics, and to purchase this gorgeous, highly limited first edition print of Meow & Zen.
Ivan Chan Studio: Invite Beauty

Sunday, November 09, 2008

To the dump

I've never been to the dump before.

I've seen it in movies and on TV; I've heard my friends going to the dump before.

But I, myself, have never gone. Ew.

I'm enough of a clean freak that the idea of going to the land of garbage kind of gave me the willies.

However, Brian needed to get rid of some big stuff that he couldn't recycle on the sidewalk and wasn't going to bring with him to Washington--and he needed help. So of course I agreed to go. If nothing else, I wanted to satisfy my curiosity and I'll be damned if I let my fears or a gross-out factor stop me from doing something.

It wasn't that bad.

In fact, it was fun! We recycled whatever we could and threw away the rest with the help of very friendly and polite staff.

The experience did give me pause, though. This is where our garbage goes. Everything we throw "away." It doesn't just go away, it goes to a landfill like this one. There were mountains and mountains of sorted garbage. People were also throwing away perfectly fine sofas, doors, etc.

So many things.

The next time you buy something, please think twice about what that means. Instead of bottled water, you could use a reusable water bottle of your own. If you need to get rid of something that's recyclable, recycle it instead of throwing it in the regular trash.

Those mountains (or barges) of garbage are not getting any smaller, and it takes more than recycling (or not recycling) to sustain our quality of life on the planet. It takes reducing the amount of crap we bring in and chuck out of our lives!

Invite Beauty,


Friday, October 31, 2008

The Ghost of Basquiat

Chaos/Control, magnet from Everyday Beauty

Last month, amidst everything else that was going on, I received an email from both Cafe Press, which hosts my online gift shop, Everyday Beauty, and the attorneys for the Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat.

The attorneys had sent a letter to Cafe Press telling them that I had violated copyright by reproducing Basquiat's work on magnets.

Seriously? Seriously.

After I explained to Cafe Press that the original image, Chaos/Control, was wholly mine and that it was merely inspired by Basquiat, they reinstated the merchandise with this image (like the magnet).

The next day, I received the email from the attorneys who demanded and threatened. To them I sent back a simple and respectful email stating my position and that was that. No apology from them for the misunderstanding or follow up, so I imagine the situation is resolved.

Besides my artwork looking nothing like Basquiat's work (which you'd think they'd know) and my public statement in my blog and gallery that this Original Finger Painting was inspired by the late artist (I had just finished watching a good film about him), it's funny to think that I'd be accused of stealing another artist's ideas.

Personally, this is the biggest insult, but I understand that the attorneys have no idea who I am and that copyright infringement and plagiarism is rampant these days (especially since the widespread use of the Internet) so why not me, right?

I value originality. I tell my friends that I'm a walking afterschool special because those values they sought to instill in kids I accepted hook, line, and sinker! Be an individual (and nonconformist). Be original and creative. Be honest and trustworthy. Have integrity. Stand up for your friends. Your real friends will stand by you. People working together can accomplish great things.

Come to think of it, either I'm an afterschool special or I'm a member of Starfleet.

Regardless, I do value originality. I also value giving credit where credit is due. This is why if you read the descriptions of my work, you'll learn where I got the inspiration for a certain palette, who my art heroes are, whose philosophy I've been studying.

It's all in the open and, unlike others whom I've found copying my work, I don't pretend that I came up with these ideas on my own. The execution is mine and original, but I humbly and respectfully acknowledge my foundation.

There is always a place for inspiring others and being inspired, sharing and exchanging ideas. While we're here we can all learn from each other.

And a "thank you" would be nice.

R.I.P. Basquiat!
Invite Beauty,


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Thursday, October 30, 2008

The last Butterfly Effect print is sold!

The Butterfly Effect, limited edition print, SOLD OUT

I'm slowly coming back into the fray, carving time amongst the many projects I have going on right now!

Recently, the last print of the highly limited edition of The Butterfly Effect sold out. You can still see the image of the Original Finger Painting in my gallery. A bonus to selling this piece is getting to donate a portion of the sale to Balance4Kids, a wonderful organization dedicated to helping children and young adults with disabilities.

I've donated my work to them in the past, and this was the first online-based donation through eBay's Giving Works and MissionFish. You'll find in my shop that I have other Original Finger Paintings, limited edition prints, and collectible cards that donate through this program--just look for the ribbon symbol next to the listing titles.

Considering everything I'm doing these days, it was nice having the donation taken care of automatically. Good deeds and fine art--a heady combination!


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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

East is East and West is West

Left: Yeti, oil on canvas, 16" x 20" NFS
Right: Sasquatch, oil on canvas, 16" x 20" NFS

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

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A hole in the landscape

Seattle skyline, photo by Leonard Chan

My good friend, Brian Carr, is moving to Seattle.

He's been planning to do so for some time, and now it's finally happening.

This isn't unexpected, but it hurts all the same, and I feel like I'm back in elementary school or high school, where you and your best friend were about to be separated--off to different schools, or maybe moving somewhere far apart from each other.

I hadn't expected to feel this pain. I'm an adult, I know people move and I know how to keep in touch with my friends. The Internet's made this all the more convenient, and I've even re-established friendships with people with whom I had lost contact many years ago.

Yet, this is different. It isn't college, when I expected people to scatter like freed doves at the Olympics. This is now, and it just plain hurts.

I walk around town and there's a hole in the landscape. Where he lived is no longer a comforting landmark, a familiar place--it's an absence of presence.

We supported each other's growth as artists. We were there to encourage each other when the going got tough. If I had a show, I knew he'd be there, and I was there for him.

Some of this doesn't change, no matter the distance.

Still, the distance is there. No more walking to the breakfast joint we frequented on the weekend. No more dragging me on roller coasters or into the arcade, too (which I ended up enjoying).

Brian's the kind of friend whom you can call up at any hour and he'll come and help you, especially when your other friends have abandoned you. It's a rare quality, I've found, in a world obsessed with its own busy-ness.

In the end, of course we're still friends and we'll continue to be in contact. But it's not the same as having a friend by your side, is it? And that's the biggest point: that things aren't the same. Everything changes, and change hurts even when it's good. Kids grow up. Friends move. People marry.

The last few weeks have been tough for me. I haven't posted a blog and I haven't painted as I've helped Brian move and hung out with him during his last days in Santa Cruz. To be creative, I go into the part of me that feels deeply, but that part is broken right now and it hurts to explore it.

I'll be back. Until then, I ask for your indulgence.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Lights, prayers--cocktails!

Right, so I've been under the weather this past week and I rested up enough to feel great for meeting up with two new friends for dinner and cocktails.

I had a wonderful time. It's always an inspiration for me, getting to know good people--the kind that are straightforward with you, have compassion, do what's right, share, and have integrity.

It was a pleasure. And hey, they like my art, too!

Talking with them--about friends that had passed away unexpectedly at a young age, or living a passionate life--brought to the fore once again what I had been struggling with in the last couple of months.

Interior design, counseling psychology--or continue, unabated and undistracted, with my art?

The interior design class I started two weeks ago is fun--I'm learning about the profession rather than design, which is helpful. Millions of people think they have a flair for design, but being a professional designer is something completely different--it's a profession.

That means dealing with clients, accounts, vendors, etc.--the business of being a designer. Does my passion encompass that?

How much do I know myself? How much do I think I know about myself? Everything keeps changing, that's for sure. I'm less and less likely to shame myself for not being who I (or anybody else) think I should be, and more and more acknowledging who I am (which I'm still figuring out). This is at the ripe old age of 36, mind you.

It's a luxury in this culture to get to know oneself, bombarded as we are by messages of how our choice of mobile phone styles reflects our personality. Really? Really.

In India, the men are privileged to go through a stage in life where they leave their families and other social responsibilities to go off into the forest to attain self-realization in their golden years (the women aren't so fortunate).

But I get to force the point. I don't have the usual obligations or distractions (not that I wouldn't mind them), so I'm in a marathon wrestling match with my self, the goal being self-knowledge.

I'm not so sure I'd like to be on the business end of interior design. Writing about it, maybe. Photographing and painting it, even more probable.

Or hell, just learning more about it and eventually designing my own home--that might just be enough.

Even with psychology--I wonder if the theories fascinate me more than working with clients. I worry if I will have enough empathy, patience, and more importantly, endurance to do such difficult work.

And what concerns me further--if I can do such work, do I have the passion for it?

I'm not sure. I'd like to ferret out my intentions, see them clearly without the haze of emotion, memory, and external authority, but as with my art, I have to do this through exploration and experimentation.

In the meantime, as I embrace my passion for interior design, I'd like to share with you a beautiful lamp I recently bought! I love bathing in its glow and can't wait to turn it on at night. Lying on my sofa and seeing it, I feel like I'm home.

I mentioned a prayer wheel in my last post, and this religious technology has been on my mind since watching documentaries on Tibet.

I bought a small prayer wheel from an exporter in Nepal who marketed the piece as a paperweight (it's far too light to weigh anything down, including itself) and received it in the mail last week.

It was falling apart until I took it apart and tightened the screws, but now I'm very happy with it and love spinning it, sending ripples of prayers and good thoughts out into the universe.

Whether it's the prayer wheel or my happy thoughts that makes the world a little bit brighter, I'll let you decide.

I wish you your best possible life.

Invite Beauty,


The Armchair (or Office Chair) Philanthropist

The Internet has changed the way most of us do things. We can now donate--for free--through a click of a button at home. How easy is that?
The Hunger Site The Breast Cancer Site
These six sites are interlinked. If you go to one site, you'll see at the top the links for the other sites via tabs. You can click and do your good deeds for the day in about five minutes.
Now imagine if everybody did that. Every day.
The Child Health Site The Rainforest Site
Please visit these sites and also link to them. Each site has a "Link to Us" section that can be found in the upper left menu. Or, copy this post or link to the post directly. You can also share this post through the Share widget at the bottom of my posts--spread the word through your social networks like Facebook, MySpace, etc. Use your voice!
The Literacy Site The Animal Rescue Site
You can find these links permanently installed in my blog on the menu to the right (scroll down). They will also be permanently installed on's Links section.
Start your morning or Internet experience by clicking on these sites; make your favorite one your home page! Think of it as your Tibetan prayer wheel, spinning entire prayers through a touch of your hand (and the click of your mouse).
Invite Beauty,

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The last Dharma Bodhisattva print is sold!

Dharma Bodhisattva, limited edition (5), 13" x 19"
Last one! SOLD

This high quality, limited edition print is sold out, but can still be seen in my gallery. Please visit my shop for more Original Finger Paintings, limited edition prints, and collectible greeting cards.
Ivan Chan Studio: Invite Beauty

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