Monday, March 31, 2008

New from Ivan Chan Studio! The Return SOLD

The Return, oil on canvas, 16" x 20"
Finger painted

This Original Finger Painting in my Merman Series is sold and can be viewed in my gallery.

Ivan Chan Studio: Invite Beauty

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sneak Preview! Stomping grounds

I believe I've written before that I don't consider (my) mermen to be part-fish--they're mammalian to me, more like seals, and any interpretation of them being half-fish comes more from how we describe things that are new to our world (by making them familiar).

For example, in a poem by Li-Young Lee, he relates how his sixth grade teacher called a persimmon a "Chinese apple."

It does kind of look like an apple, even if it's nothing like it, but it's the closest thing Mrs. Walker could compare it to, in order to help her other students understand the strange fruit in Li-Young's hands.

Likewise, we think merfolk have fish tails and angels have wings.

I contend this is all symbolic and to read it as anything else would be to take a literalist fundamentalist standpoint--which I do not. That said, I do have to look into the science, fantasy, and mythology of things to help my images make sense. But to take it too far would be like arguing if the Incredible Hulk could beat up Superman. (A subject for other minds to debate.)

Anyway, my point is, I don't think of mermen as being half-fish, but I do think about similarities they may have with the piscine world--like returning home to their spawning grounds as salmon and other fish do.

That's the journey this merman is making, and at the foot of a waterfall, he readies himself for the difficult climb. Let's hope a bear isn't waiting for him when he leaps!

Inspired by Hokusai's prints of waterfalls and having the generous Andre Fortier as my model (please visit his photography web site to see his beautiful portraits!), this latest painting in my Merman Series was a fun painting to make that mixed Western realism with Eastern stylization.

As usual, it also got me thinking: salmon return to their source to produce offspring; what do we create when we return to our sources?

Some of our best abandoned dreams are found in our childhood memories.

Invite Beauty,


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Spotlight on Flower Tree Koi Song SOLD

Flower Tree Koi Song, oil on canvas, 12" x 16"
Finger Painted

This Original Finger Painting is sold, but please click on the image to see more Original Finger Paintings available in my shop!
To see my entire Koi Series (sold and available), please visit my gallery.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Artists' Choice Awards 2007 results in!

Hi all!

It's official, the results are in!

I've won honorable mention in the category of Best Inspirational/Spiritual/Religious art in the Artists' Choice Awards (ACA) held on eBay.

For the curious, here are the other winners (you can see more of their art by following the links on their profile pages):

First place! The Creators Palette

Second place! Healing Expressions

Third place! Grandma Moses 2001

Invite Beauty,


Invite Spring with Reawakened Limited Edition Print & Cards

Reawakened Limited Edition Print (5), 13" x 19"
Giclee on photographic paper

Reawakened Little Beauties Art Card
Set of 10 cards & envelopes, 1 image

Please click on the images to read the description, see detailed pics, and to purchase these delightful pieces to celebrate spring's return.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

New from Ivan Chan Studio! Icarus

Icarus, oil on canvas, 32" x 12" (16" x 12" each)
Diptych (two-part painting)
Finger painted

Please click on the image to read the description, see detailed pics, and to make an offer on this passionate Original Finger Painting.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Sneak Preview! Falling

The gold and white of this Original Finger Painting made this sneak preview difficult to photograph, but this is just to whet your appetites for the real thing coming soon!

I've reworked an older painting again, this time re-imagining the image with new inspiration.

The wings are again drawn from research into Persian and Islamic art (I'm following my own color scheme). I find the idea of multicolored wings beautiful and striking--a departure from the usual white wings.

While painting this, I was reminded of an old story from Persia, brought up by Bill Moyers in his interview of Joseph Campbell in The Power of Myth: Satan was God's greatest lover and would bow to no one but God; God then created Man and told the angels to serve Man. This was something Satan could not do because of his overwhelming love of God. The punishment for his disobedience was exile--to be forever separated from the Beloved.

It's a romantic story, but it definitely puts a twist on things, which I like. My perspective can always use a bit of twisting and tweaking, because getting used to something is a death knell. You stop seeing the gifts the ordinary gives you every day.

I'm not sure this is necessarily a scene of that awful celestial breakup, but I do know it's a farewell of some sort. The halo is a deep, rich, and iridescent blue--like the sky over our heads. It's a kind of hole, almost, from the golden background--again, to signify the Heavens--and reflects a kind of "coming down to Earth" experience.

Perhaps this is an angel that falls during the Great War in Heaven; there were casualites on both sides, I imagine, as there are in any war. And maybe it's an echo of another myth, like that of Icarus flying too close to the sun and melting his wings.

Strangely, this feels like a very private painting. I'm not sure why yet.

I do like that it's my first diptych (two-part painting). The two canvases, in dividing the image, offers a visual surprise. A bonus, even. The eye travels along the picture, back and forth, from an outstretched wing to an impassioned face.

Enough for now. I need to rest.

Invite Beauty,


Thursday, March 13, 2008

New from Ivan Chan Studio! I Am There

I Am There, oil on canvas, 12" x 16"
Finger Painted

Please click on the image to read the description, see detailed pics, and to make an offer on this marvelous Original Finger Painting.
Ivan Chan Studio: Invite Beauty

Sneak Preview! Split a piece of wood

Okay, I was going to work on my next Merman Series painting, but as I was researching waterfalls in my book of Japanese prints for the background, I became very enamored of them and decided to rework another painting, I Am There.

It was a favorite of mine and some friends, but alas, leave anything in my studio long enough and as I've written before, I'll tinker with it.

Here's the new version of I Am There, which I'll be listing later on. I put in red Japanese maples because I saw them recently, and I was reminded of how much I love them.

Invite Beauty,


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

New from Ivan Chan Studio! Deep Focus NFS

Deep Focus, oil on canvas, 30" x 24" NFS
Finger painted

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

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Sneakier Preview! Spring has sprung

This has been one of my more experimental pieces, partially fueled by listening to Billy Mallery's music (he's releasing an album titled Possible Bliss this year under hover, check it out on MySpace), and partially my own explorations into abstract images and uses of color.

I feel my art is in a state of flux these days, pushing towards more mystery and less of the knowable and rational world. It's part of my own growing comfort--or I should say acceptance--of that which I have no control over. Sometimes it's enough that something is beautiful and beyond our ability to understand. That's why I love studying religions.

The cherry blossoms represent, this time, a temporariness related not only to our brief lives, but to music as it vibrates on the air. There's a sweetness to something that can end, I think.

The other flowers are red and blue Lantana, a favorite of Billy's that I thought would be nice to incorporate into my repertoire of both imaginary and real flora.

Please stay tuned for the listing of this painting, when better pictures will abound--and with much less distortion of shape and color!

Invite Beauty,


Friday, March 07, 2008

Sneak Preview! The sound of music

A few months ago, I wrote about a composer who found me on MySpace, Billy Mallery. There's a link to his web site on my Links page if you'd like to find out more about him.

I love listening to his music--he composes soundtracks for movies, commercials, and logos--creating and distilling mood and essence into sound.

Recently, he used a pic of himself for his avatar on MySpace, and I really liked it. So I asked him if I could use it as a photo reference for one of my paintings in the future.

He generously agreed (and he agreed for his talented sister, too, who took the picture), and since then I've been rolling ideas around my head on what this painting will look like. Right now you see it in a very raw form, not my usual sneak peek of what will soon be listed, but a sneak peek of a work-in-progress.

It's been a long time since I made a horizontal/landscape image, but studying Odilon Redon's work, I'm encouraged to experiment and I have to say, I do love the spaciousness of it. I've turned my favorite dimensions--24" x 30"--onto their sides and I feel opened up by the new perspective!

There's more art coming but I've got to rest for a bit now before getting back to work. It's been a trying week and I feel a bit battered and sore--but it's the soreness hard-won from a good workout, I think. Liberation is never easy.

Thanks for your kind attention.

Invite Beauty,


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

I'm an Artists' Choice Awards 2007 Finalist!


Okay, so about two days ago, my friend Thomas Dodd (a talented photographer and digital artist) writes to me on MySpace to tell me that he voted for me in the Artists' Choice Awards (ACA) in the Inspirational/Spiritual/Religious category.

Nice, I thought. This was back in 2006, right? (I won honorable mention.)

Nope, he says. It's for 2007.

And you have to accept your nomination by March 5, 2008.

Which brings us to the present.

I've managed to track down the ACA group on eBay, join (it's a private group open only to artists who sell on eBay and have a feedback of 10 or more), accept my nomination, and post samples of my work. I think I'm at a disadvantage, though. The polls close tonight.

Regardless, I humbly offer my gratitude to those who nominated and voted for me!

Take care,


Monday, March 03, 2008

New from Ivan Chan Studio! Purveyor of Symbols SOLD

Purveyory of Symbols, mixed media on canvas, 36" x 36" SOLD
Finger painted

Purveyor of Symbols, separated triptych view

Please click on the images to read the description, see detailed pics, and to bid on this Original Finger Painting in the next ten days.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Sneak Preview! Soft place in the Dreaming (nod to Neil Gaiman)

This triptych (three-piece painting) is another creative collaboration between my mother's practice calligraphy papers and my art.

I stated in my Indieview with The Indie Path that I would be doing more mixed media this year, and this is the first piece, finger painted with acrylics (liquid gooey fun) and inspired both by my friend and photographer Brian Carr's recent trip to Dubai, and a flash of this image in my head.

Part of what gave me this vision was listening to Mark Romanek's commentaries on the DVD compilation of his best music videos. He discusses his influences--Mary Poppins and Stanley Kubrick--and adds that when he say 2001: A Space Odyssey by Kubrick back when he was nine years old, that's what did it. He knew he wanted to be a film director.

Have you ever had an epiphany--a sudden realization or deep understanding--of yourself when confronted by art (music, film, sculpture, literature, etc.)?

I do remember reading Saga of the Swamp Thing during Alan Moore's run and thinking, I'd love to be a comic book writer. And then I was introduced (by one of the best teachers I've ever had--and this was in high school) to Joseph Campbell and his work on comparative mythology and I thought, I'd love to be a mythologist and teacher. Combine the three and you have a storyteller. Distill into its purest essence, and you have a purveyor of symbols (the working title of this painting).

Funny how things come around. There's a saying I've heard in my head lately: Those who follow their destiny, the Fates will lead; those who resist their destiny, the Fates will drag.

Invite Beauty,


Saturday, March 01, 2008

Bedtime Story

This is a video by one of my favorite directors, Mark Romanek. His music videos bring cinema to another level in terms of its imagery and artistic integrity.

Just as "The Fountain" was a film I enjoyed for its Symbolist "moving painting" qualities, I find similar pleasure--and guidance on my own path as an artist with a vision--when I view this video (which was based on the paintings of female surrealists; the song was written by Bjork) and other works by Romanek (which is on a DVD compilation my brother so thoughtfully gave me as a gift last year).

Enjoy, but be aware that some of the images may disturb (I think that's a good thing, but you choose what you want to put in your head, okay?).

Invite Beauty,


Judge not (unless you're invited to)

Last Wednesday, I had the honor of being one of three judges for the Second Annual Community Advisory Committee Art Competition (BALANCE4Kids Art Exhibition)!

There were close to 50 pieces of original art by children across the county. When asked by someone how I could judge art, my reply was, "It's impossible."

It's funny. I was actually asked this question by several people. It told me a little bit about them (oh, the irony), and of course, I can sympathize: who likes to be judged? And how does one decide whether a work of art is "better" than another?

Like I said, it's impossible.

It's arbitrary. It's based on biases. It's purely an opinion.

History has proved over and over again that it's more important to follow your passion than worry about what other people think of what you're doing and who you are. Heck, add yourself to that list: it doesn't matter how you might judge or criticize yourself for what you're doing, either. What's important is that you do what you love; in essence, be true to yourself.

The art show was filled with wonderful, unpretentious work that I found inspiring and admirable. My fellow judges and I agreed that it would be a difficult decision, and we did our best to put aside our personal prejudices to see the art for what it was: beautiful creativity.

I may have had to make a decision, but before I did, all I could do was smile.

Invite Beauty,