Thursday, January 31, 2008

Nothing But Blue Skies (Eventually)

I do enjoy the rain--the dark, brooding clouds; the pitter-pat of the drops on my roof lulling me to sleep at night.

What I don't enjoy is how it cramps my style!

Yes, I had been planning on listing my latest painting, Carpe Diem, today, but unfortunately, the black skies make it impossible for me to get a great photograph of my work.

I photograph all my work in natural sunlight to bring out the truest colors in the piece. I figure it's truth in advertising and it makes my art look brilliant and vibrant like it is in real life.

Not that you'd have one of my paintings hanging in direct sunlight--outside. Indoor lighting is always tricky, even in galleries (that's why the nicer galleries have dimmer switches on their spotlights so they can simulate what a painting will look like as the day passes over it). Nothing so bright, and nothing so dim--how we experience art is highly contextual. It's what makes it alive.

There's another, more personal dark cloud that I'm hoping will pass, too. A friend of mine I hadn't heard from for a while suddenly called me today to let me know she was in the hospital and fighting a difficult illness she recently discovered. She's in good spirits, but I'm the worrywort, I guess. Nice thing was, while my friend and I visited her, a couple of friends came to visit her, too. She's not alone, and she knows she's much loved.

I'm off to update some more listings in my shop. It'll keep my mind off of things. In the meantime, I've inserted a self-portrait in my long post, "Peace, Mud, and Happiness," just to break things up a bit!

Take care,


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Sneak Preview! Morning has broken

It's been a while since I've posted a sneak peek!

Here's a painting that I've been working on for a while, evolved from my paintings of flowers on simple golden backgrounds (A Garden Elsewhere, Iris, and Trinity). You can even see a similar theme in one of the first works I made available online, Full Circle.

As with the previous pictures, I'm focusing on emptiness and the possibilities that fill emptiness. It's a Zen thing, this kind of space for rest and meditation while amidst the joyful bounciness of life. Additionally, there's a firefly (also known for its brief life); I read about a diurnal (daytime) species that still flashes its light despite the sun. I find that inspiring.

This reimagined piece is still called Carpe Diem, Latin for "seize the day" and an exhortation to live life to its fullest--but I think it invites contemplation as to what we will seize the day for, and what the day holds for us.

Every day is an opportunity, and every day is fleeting.

Invite Beauty,


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Peace, Mud, & Happiness

Last week for my birthday, my good friend, Alex, took me out for a weekend in Calistoga, California.

Let me begin by saying I'm not one to relax. Call me Type A. Call me a Capricorn. Whatever you call me, relaxing comes about as easy as sleep for me (I'm either an insomniac or someone whose genetics anticipated artificial lighting).

The last time I remember relaxing was about eight years ago. I had been invited to a friend's wedding in Italy and I was held captive for six hours on the beach. After about two hours of nervous fretting, I finally gave in and welcomed the Mediterranean way of life and dug my toes into the Sardinian sand.

It was nice. Not necessarily the "have nothing to do" kind of nice but more the "can't do anything so might as well surrender" kind of nice.

Back to last weekend in Calistoga: I was again held hostage by tranquility. I'm in the midst of upgrading all my shop listings but had done enough that I could reasonably take a break (and needed one), and my friend made sure I did. The people at Indian Springs, too.

I sipped chilled cucumber and lemon water (okay, one of the world's most refreshing and simple drinks!). I swam in a geyser fed mineral water pool the temperature of a warm bath (I started doing laps and then remembered, "Oh yeah, I'm here to relax," and started floating about on an inflatable raft).

And then it was time: my first mud bath.

It's nothing like what you see on TV or the movies. It's sticky, slimy, gooey, and more; there are bits of things in it (it's made from volcanic ash). You don't quite sink in it (an attendant will bury you after you get into the raised cement tub) but you don't quite float, either (it's like being suspended in Jell-O). It's very, very warm (the mud is made with geyser water). I can totally see how people die in quicksand.

Anyway, I had to sit in it for ten minutes. Ten minutes! No magazines, no audiobooks, no sketchbook, no music...I didn't panic (I know how to meditate. Yeah, what a surprise), I just let the mud envelope me and focused on my breath. I'd recommend a mud bath for almost anyone.

The treatment was followed by a shower (give up on getting all the mud out of your nooks and crannies, that's what you do later in the bathtub soak), a soak, a steam, and then, my friend who is a prince among princes (a real mensch), had a massage scheduled for me. One of the best I've ever had (I'm trained in massage, too, so I know of what I speak)! Go Esalen!

Afterwards, we went to dinner at a nice but unpretentious restaurant. Yum. Delicious. I still dream about what we had for dinner (I ate off of his plate, too, I couldn't resist). All Seasons Bistro on the main strip: if you can go, please do!

The next day on our way back, we tooled up and down the coast, visiting small towns like Mendocino. Idyllic and I imagine what Maine's coastal villages look like. Bleak and grey due to the storms that are still blowing through this area, but I love that. There's a big part of my heart that's reserved for lonely beauty.

With all the peaceful feelings coursing through me, it made me think about happiness, and the various ways we achieve it and cheat ourselves of it. Growing older yet another year, I have come to at least one not-so-secret secret to happiness that I'd like to share with all of you:

Accept human nature.

I have to thank my friend April for preparing my head for this kind of realization (she's responsible for the Serenity card set in my Little Beauties Collection and for whom I painted "Reawakened"). Watching Firefly and listening to Joss Whedon talk about people--and how he tells stories about flawed characters--also helped.

It's not that I don't understand people's basic motivations--it's that I had trouble accepting them. Why lie when you can tell the truth? Why cheat when you can remain faithful? Life is about choices to me, and responsibility; I live honorably and for a long time, I expected other people to do so, too. If they didn't, well, I'd get mad or they were doodie heads or both.

How many times have we gotten angry at a rude driver? Thought something racist, sexist, or homophobic? How many times have we thought ourselves better than someone else because we'd never do what they did?

Accepting human nature is by no means condoning certain behaviors. It's just knowing that it happens and not getting worked up about it. As the brilliant writer Alan Moore once said about his former publisher and why he wasn't angry about how they treated him, "Once you find out you've been standing knee-deep in shit, you don't jump up and down on it to punish it. You step out, clean yourself off, and move on."

That's a philosophy I can live by, and that I humbly offer you as a key to happiness.

And you didn't even have to be held hostage or dunked in mud to get it (although it would have been fun if you had)!

My gratitude to Alex and to all who have contributed (whether I liked it or not) to my peace and happiness.

Be well,


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Spotlight on Something Tiki This Way Comes Part II SOLD

Something Tiki This Way Comes Part II
Acrylic on canvas, 10" x 20"
Part 2 of 3
Finger painted

Please click on the image to read the description and view it in my gallery.

There's a new look for my shop, too!

Everyday Beauty Spotlight! New Raven Laughs Again Magnet

Raven Laughs Again (II)

Please click on the image to view this new item in my merchandise store, Everyday Beauty. Bookmark the Spotlight! section!

Ivan Chan Studio: Invite Beauty

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Spotlight on LAST Deep Kitty limited edition print SOLD OUT

Deep Kitty, giclee on paper, 13" x 19"
Limited Edition Print (3 plus 1 artist's proof)

This beautiful, limited edition print of Deep Kitty is sold out, but there's more artwork in my Here Kitty Series you'll love. Please click on the image to visit the Here Kitty Series section of my shop!

To see all Here Kitty incarnations past and present, please visit my gallery.

New look for the New Year!

I've been changing the look of my shop over the last couple of weeks and I'm giddy over the improvements!

There's still more to be done, but I've already upgraded many of the listings. I've even added a a couple of slide shows (which will be regularly updated): you'll find one of sold artwork on my About Me page and a "featured items" showcase at the bottom of this very blog and my web site's About page.

Please take a look. You'll find that the background, fewer words, removed visual noise, and more links provide for a smoother experience of my art than before. I'd like my shop to be an oasis and refuge online: a place to recharge and refresh mind, body, and spirit without all the hoopla of shopping.

I think you'll enjoy the third incarnation of my studio.



Ivan Chan Studio: Invite Beauty

Friday, January 18, 2008

New from Ivan Chan Studio! Holy Chicken Limited Edition Giclee on Stretched Canvas

Holy Chicken, giclee on stretched canvas, 12" x 15"
Limited edition of 3

Holy Chicken, giclee on stretched canvas, 5.5" x 7"
Limited edition of 5

The chickens have come home to roost! Please click on an image to read the description, see detailed pics, and to purchase these lovely, high quality giclee prints on stretched canvas from my Etsy shop.

To purchase from my eBay shop, please click here.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Moment of Silence

I have sad news to report.

For those of you who came to my show, Doorways & Dharma, back in October of last year, you probably met Christine Vollrath. She may have poured you some champagne, chatted with you about art, and generally made you feel welcome.

It was the first time I had ever met her. She was a friend of Judy Ziegler, owner of Cornucopia Real Estate and main patron of the art show, and she joined in the fun as a volunteer. From 11 in the morning to 5 in the evening, she helped out for the pure pleasure of it.

Last night, I received a call from Judy. Christine had a massive stroke this past Friday and died at the age of 40.

We had been planning on having dinner--Brian and I wanted to take her out as a thank-you for all her help. However, our schedules didn't mesh for weeks and weeks. I still have her business card on my desk.

It's all very sudden and unexpected. I don't mean to view death as merely sad, because that's not my perspective. What I do mean to express is my own grief, at my own loss of knowing another wonderful and unique human being on this planet. I hate saying good-bye and when it's necessary, I hate being cheated of saying it to the person.

I met her for six hours and this is how much she touched me. I miss knowing that she's out there. And I'm grateful that we connected. No matter how many kind people you meet in the world, it will never be enough.

Thank you again, Christine, for your warmth, generosity, and curiosity.



Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Everyday Beauty Spotlight! New Koi and Tiki magnets and bumper sticker

Nope, I haven't forgotten about my shop, Everyday Beauty! Here are three new items to delight the surreal koi and tiki lover.

You'll find them by clicking on each image or by going directly to my Spotlight! section.

Thanks again for your support of my art!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Spotlight on LAST Dharma Bodhisattva limited edition print SOLD

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

This high quality, limited edition print in my Etsy store 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.

New from Ivan Chan Studio! Make a Wish SOLD

Make a Wish, mixed media on canvas, 15" x 30"
Finger painted

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

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New from Ivan Chan Studio! Raven Laughs Again NFS

Raven Laughs Again, oil on canvas, 12" x 16"
Finger painted
This Original Finger Painting is not-for-sale, but it can still be viewed in my gallery. For available Original Finger Paintings, limited edition prints, and collectible greeting cards, please visit my shop.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

I'm caught up with the Verse

I rarely watch TV.

When I do, it's usually HGTV (because interior design is a spectator sport, I swear) or a specific show.

There are only three shows that move me, past and present: Northern Exposure, Firefly, and Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Northern Exposure is a classic TV show (originally a take on David Lynch's groundbreaking series, Twin Peaks) about quirky outsiders who have a community where everyone is welcome (gee, why would that touch a chord?). They were the first two have two simultaneous plots in a show which reflected off of each other, but weren't necessarily connected. It's brilliantly written and acted and while watching it, I felt at home. It may be funny, even sad, to some people that I would say that of a television show, but it's not. I'm saying this about a story, and stories are what realities are made of. Ask anybody who reads The Bible, or believes that they deserve to be in a bad relationship, or loves life. What story did they hear, do they study or tell themselves, that makes them feel at home?

Firefly is pure genius. It's not that I'm a Joss Whedon fan and will watch anything he does--I can watch a bit of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, even Angel if I happen to catch it--but his stories never really caught me (Buffy being purposefully analogous to the high school experience, something I'd sooner forget than remember). However, with Firefly, which I found on the Internet years ago before the DVD collection came out (do it now: get the collection), I fell in love. The characters, the dialogue, the stories, the language, the set design, the spaceship--the (uni)verse of Firefly, was home. Five-hundred-years-into-the-future home, but home nonetheless where the U.S. and China had merged into one superpower (the Alliance) and culture reflects the influences (their clothing, bits of Chinese phrases in their speech, etc. For translations, please visit, where I've also posted translations as Quixote13 along with some very capable and passionate fans). As a story about a group of smugglers and fugitives on the run, living by their wits on the outskirts of civilized space, I find it comforting. No surprise there, either. Regarding the title of my post, I've just finished the complete series (and a couple of the unaired episodes I hadn't seen before; the show was cancelled after only 11 episodes ridiculously enough--and after you watch this show, you will understand why I think its cancellation is worth ridicule!) and watched the movie, Serenity, again. My heart aches a little, but it's good. Thank you, Joss and crew, for telling a good story.

Lastly, Avatar: The Last Airbender, which is an award-winning cartoon series from Nickelodeon, now in production for a live action movie with M. Night Shymalan directing. It's set in an alternate reality where there are four nations in a mythical Asian world. Each nation specializes in an element, of which some of their populace can "bend" or control. The Air Nomads (based off of Tibetan monks) can all bend air, as bending is related to spirituality and they're devoted to the spirit. Sadly, Aang, the Avatar, is the last one due to genocide committed by the Fire Nation (patterned after the Japanese). Joining Aang on his quest to master all the elements (as only the Avatar can, and then afterwards, to bring balance to the world because the Fire Nation decided to conquer everybody) is Katara and Sokka of the Souther Water Tribe (based off of Inuits) and Toph of the Earth Kingdom (inspired by China). All language in this world is written in Chinese--which is created by a calligraphy expert (THANK YOU to the creators for respecting another culture enough not merely to borrow it, but to treat it with intelligence; I've seen poor writing or worse, made up writing, when it comes to other people's use of another culture in the service of their entertainment). What do I love about this show? The fusion of East and West obviously strikes deeply. The fact that these talented kids are resourceful and surviving outside of the norm rings a bell, too. Besides the above, it's again a brilliantly written show.

However, I'm not the only person who loves these shows (psychologically or otherwise). They've all won awards and interviews with the people who made or make these shows reveal a passion for telling the compassionate truth of what it means to be human.

Take care,