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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