Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Art Parade

Essence of Motion, oil on canvas, 18" x 36"
Finger painted
Free shipping & benefits World Wildlife Fund

Tomorrow is the First Friday Art Walk in Downtown Santa Cruz.

It is what it sounds like, a self-guided walking tour of art exhibits in and around Downtown Santa Cruz. It's every first Friday of the month and places that show art from galleries to restaurants open their doors a little later to invite the wandering appreciator or patron of the arts.

This is such a great idea. I mean, it's a social as well as a cultural event. People get to go places and see things they might not otherwise see. And hey, they serve food at a lot of the receptions.

Writing of receptions, due to my busy schedule, I don't intend to hold an official reception for this show. (You still might catch me eating at Pacific Thai, though, and I'll be happy to talk with you about any of the work on the walls.)

Anyway, I'm tired so I'll keep this short. I do look forward to the show and sharing my work with you!

Invite Beauty,


Between Heaven and Earth, oil on canvas, 12" x 36"
Finger painted
Free shipping!

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Daily Successes

  1. I got the traineeship!
  2. I gained more self-awareness and self-acceptance of my challenges.
  3. I finished preparing my art show.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Daily Successes

  1. I printed and handed out postcards promoting my art show.

  2. I went for a walk even though I feel overwhelmed with work.

  3. I asserted and expressed myself in a difficult situation.

A Buddha in Your Garden, mixed media on canvas, 18" x 36"
Finger painted

Say it loud, say it clear, say it right

Dharma Bodhisattva

I'm reading a section on personality disorders in my textbook and I'm on Antisocial Personality Disorder. As I read this, I drifted to what I can post on my blog because I've got to intersperse stuff between the daily postings of the Daily Successes! (Perhaps I should collect the Daily Successes and make them weekly?)

Onto my blog post: There are many words that mean one thing for lay people and another for professionals. I shall list examples that relate to psychology.

Well, first, I want to start with something that appears in legalese (but is actually incorrect in common English): "persons."

You see, the plural for persons is "people."

Okay, to get started (again):


Professional usage: Antisocial refers to behaviors that are against society, violate the rights of others, and shows disregards for the well being and property of others. A person with Antisocial Personality Disorder is what people used to call a sociopath (you know, like Hannibal Lechter).

Common usage: "I don't feel like going to the party, I'm feeling antisocial tonight." This usually means, "I don't feel like socializing," or perhaps that one feels shy or introverted.


Professional usage: Introversion literally means "turned inward." An introvert requires solitude in order to recharge but can be quite sociable and enjoy parties. However, socializing eventually tires them out and they need alone time.

Common usage: Shy.


Professional usage: No such word as "unconscience."

Common usage: Confusion of the word "unconscious" which is literally, "not conscious." Conscience refers to morality and ethics, knowing the difference between right and wrong. "Con" means "with" and "science" means "knowledge."


Professional usage: Related to psychology, the mind as distinct from the body.

Common usage: It's all in your head so it's not real, valid, or serious like a physical illness. "It's just psychological why he's afraid of flying."


Professional usage: Physical (body) symptoms experienced as real and with an emotional (psychological) root.

Common usage: See Psychological, Common usage.


Professional usage: A phase of development according to Freud where a child is focused on learning to control his or her anus as a means of gaining approval (potty-trained), disapproval ("accidents"), or exerting control.

Common usage: An abbreviation of "anal-retentive," which describes controlling, uptight behavior or a person who is usually very organized and likes things just so. In psychoanalytic thought, people can actually be anal-retentive or anal-expulsive. You know--those types that are messy and irresponsible. However, because of cultural value placed on being "flexible" and "mellow," nobody ever gets called "anal" for being a slob.


Professional usage: Related to a system of psychology and therapy (known as psychoanalysis) created by Sigmund Freud which has spawned many schools of thought, theories, etc. that influence our thinking even today about how the mind works (and what to do when it's not working well).

Common usage: Relating to sex symbolically, covertly, or unconsciously. Freud actually wrote about more than just the sex drive (eros or inaccurately called the libido), he also wrote about the death wish (thanatos).

There ya have it. Now I better get back to studying. Thanks for taking this break with me.

Invite Beauty,


Left: Call of Nature, oil on canvas, finger painted, 18" x 36". Right: Death as a Maiden, oil on canvas, finger painted, 18" x 24".

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Daily Successes

  1. I finished one homework assignment early.
  2. I have not eaten beef for three weeks, including today.
  3. I helped a stranger move something big into her truck.
  4. I helped a friend with a problem.

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There's no place like home

The Lightness of Being, oil on canvas, 24" x 30"
Finger painted

Part of my experience in being displaced is to yearn for a home.

There's no place I can call home right now, in a physical sense. I'm longing for something that, unlike for Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, evaporates the moment I wake up instead of having been there all the time.

In Buddhism, there's this lovely piece of advice (perhaps it's a commandment, but that's oh so authoritarian):

Be ye lamps unto yourselves.
Be ye a refuge unto yourselves.
Betake yourselves to no external refuge.
Hold fast to the truth as a lamp.
Hold fast as a refuge to the truth.
Perhaps there is no refuge, no sanctum sanctorum, no real estate that is real if it is outside oneself and the infinite resources within.

Still, I'd love a little beach cottage, with a studio for painting, a room for guests, a spot to garden, a partner to share it with, and no way in hell somebody can kick me off my land.

Just putting it out there.
Invite Beauty,

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Daily Successes

  1. I used an old gift certificate for a much-deserved massage.
  2. I created the graphic for my upcoming art show.
  3. I am promoting my art show.

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Solo Art Exhibit @ Pacific Thai Santa Cruz

Broke Open Dream Does July Need a Sky of Blue Meow and Zen Carpe Diem Between Heaven and Earth Make a Wish The Flower of Compassion Essence of Motion A River Runs through Us Yeti Sasquatch

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Daily Successes

Make a Wish, mixed media on canvas, 15" x 30"
Finger painted
  1. I went on a date.
  2. I explored parts of San Francisco I had never been before.
  3. I didn't get lost going home.

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Inviting Beauty

The Mynah Escapes, print on paper, 13" x 19"
Limited edition of 5, only 2 remaining

Posting my Daily Successes is keeping me blogging (minimally) regularly, but I'm sure y'all are jonesing for more content than the mini-triumphs I celebrate each day.

So now I'm going to plug one of my favorite images, The Mynah Escapes, which is available as a large, 13" x 19" limited edition print on photographic paper. There are only two left, and only five were printed.

I'm presenting this image specifically because these Daily Successes have inspired me to liberate myself from my thoughts that search for mistakes and to re-educate my mind to seek triumph and joy.

In short, I am inviting beauty into my life, because I am looking for it, because I know it has to be there in the small things (I picked up my mail today, which I tend to procrastinate) as well as the big things (I had a great interview for a traineeship at a place I really want to work).

And now, I invite you to share your Daily Successes with me by posting yours in the comments section of my Daily Successes. I'm not sure if anybody will do this--I'm aware of a lot of lurkers (silent but supportive readers) on my blog--but hey, I've put out the call.

Invite Beauty,


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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Daily Successes

Change Is Inevitable, Little Beauties Art Card
Ten 5" x 7" cards & envelopes

  1. I had Kung Pao Tofu for lunch instead of something with meat.
  2. I did my laundry.
  3. I added to my downpayment.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Daily Successes

See and You Shall Find, print on paper, 13" x 19"
Limited edition of 3

  1. I had a great interview for my traineeship.
  2. I socialized at a party tonight.
  3. I had a healthy breakfast.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Daily Successes

A person I work with recommended this activity:

Every day, list three successes you had and then send this list to a friend who will send you his or hers.

This teaches your mind to focus and look for success rather than failure and disappointment while giving you support, encouragement, and motivation to do so.

These can be simple successes like flossing. They can also be something big, like getting your doctorate or a raise. You define your successes, and you can find at least three every day.

I am going to post my list every day here on Insight to share with you. I will also post to Twitter and if you want to follow me on Twitter, I invite you to do so. Also feel free to send me your Daily Successes.

Eventually, I may only post to Twitter, but for now, I'm going to post to both places. I might add Facebook, too, but I don't want to make this a lot of unnecessary and redundant work for myself.

Okay, without further ado, my three successes today:

1. I walked to the grocery store and lugged home my groceries.

2. I made dinner for myself and it was good and simple.

3. I bought rechargeable batteries to replace my 7-year-old rechargeable batteries.

4. I finally replaced my dying keyboard of 13 years.

Yes, there are four up there! I had a lot of success today.

Additionally, this was the first week I didn't procrastinate my grad school homework. I finished everything within a day or two of the work being assigned. I am extraordinarily proud of myself for doing this!

Invite Beauty,


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Home is where my head is

The Flower of Compassion, oil on canvas, 18" x 36"
Finger painted

The last few years of my life have been an experience of displacement.

I've always had a nomadic spirit, but a true nomad follows a path. There's no wandering, but there's definitely movement.

What's it like to be a lost nomad, then? I think that just means one is lost, and if that lostness should ever be carried like a trusty walking stick, one becomes a wanderer.

The history of the Jews and others who have faced diaspora, including my own people, have recently struck a chord with me. I don't think I've landed for the last seven or so years, and there's a sense of fleeing, escaping, of living on the run.

I remember watching "Fiddler on the Roof" and wondering about the symbolism. And someone explained to me: When you are a persecuted people, you learn to live lightly; a fiddle is easy to carry, and where you stop to rest, you can still make your own music.

My most recent displacement from my apartment has brought up these feelings of being unsettled again. I wonder how wise it was for me to invest in a space I don't own, make and put my art up on the walls, buy a heavy bookcase and real bed (not that futons aren't, but I graduated from college years ago) and other furniture. They're all liabilities.

However, they made my life richer than if I had continued to live a spartan, ascetic existence like I had in my earlier years. I've written before that I had "creative anorexia"--not a creative block, but creative anorexia: a refusal to create or be touched by creation.

But what has this cost me? And is it worth it?

I admit, my feelings of displacement were further exacerbated by locking myself out yesterday.

So what keeps me together during the proverbial flight out of Egypt? The Jews have their religion. The Chinese have their food. The West Africans have their music. These are things done in remembrance and affirmation.

What I have is what's in my head.

I think, and my brain is a philosopher's stone. It transmutes mundane experiences into profound wisdom.

This is what keeps me going. This is what I bring with me wherever I wander.

Invite Beauty,


Right: From Nomad 2 Dervish, Little Beauties Art Card available on Etsy.

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What's the worst that could happen?

Just doing my part to share this message.

Invite Beauty,


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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Mothra's puny cousin

Last night, after a day of work and studying, I treated myself by going to see a scary movie. It wasn't that bad and I jumped a few times in the theater, but so did the four other people watching the movie with me.

Anyway, so I get home, study some more, do some homework, and then go to bed. In the middle of the night, I'm awakened by this buzzing, fluttering noise.

It sounded like a giant moth beating its wings against my porchlight!

So I go back to sleep, content with my interpretation of the noise. I was sure it wasn't ghosts.

This morning, I get up to go out and what do I see on my screen door? That's right. THE GIANT MOTH.

I paid attention in high school science and again in science illustration classes, so that's the tip of my pen in the photograph--I'm using it as reference so you can see and understand how big the moth is. Huge, right?

I had a hard time holding the pen up that high and taking the shot, which is why it's blurry. Sorry. (And on second thought, maybe if I held up a ruler I wouldn't have had to strain, but they always taught us to hold something familiar up to something we were photographing to give an idea of scale.)

There you have it. Mothra's puny cousin.

Yeah, yeah, I'll start sharing my drawings and paintings soon--but hey, my art show at Pacific Thai Santa Cruz will be in ten days!

Journey of a Thousand, oil on canvas, 12" x 36"
Finger painted

Invite Beauty,

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It's too darn hot

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

It's so hot around here that I can't think! And where are those sketches I promised, right?

So, I've been busy. Here is what I offer for now: a merman bursting forth from refreshing waters, haloed by flying fish.

Stare at the image. It will make you feel cooler. Click on the image if you'd like to learn more about this Original Finger Painting. Avast! Close ups await you!

Yeah, I told you I couldn't think.
Invite Beauty,


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Thursday, April 16, 2009

The show is coming, the show is coming!

Broke Open Dream, mixed media on canvas, 24" x 24"
Original Finger Painting

In about two weeks, I will be having my second solo show at Pacific Thai in Downtown Santa Cruz.

I am looking forward to finalizing my choice of what Original Finger Paintings to exhibit. During my first art show at Pacific Thai, I had a concurrent one at Children's Mental Health. I had some tough decisions to make about what pieces to hang where!

This time around, I will do many local and not-so local fans a favor by hanging some of my artwork previously shown at Children's Mental Health. Now you don't have to get to the exhibit space before 5 PM, you can pop in from lunchtime until dinner and also get some tasty Thai cuisine while you're enjoying my paintings!

I will post on here the final selection and provide a link in the News section of In addition to my paintings, I will also be showing giclees--intense reproductions of my work that rival the originals.

Here's your chance to check out one of the remaining (and affordable) prints of
Meow and Zen (18" x 36", limited edition of 10), not to mention Carpe Diem (12" x 15", limited edition of 3). I may hang some framed prints on paper, too.

Keep your eyes peeled and subscribe to my blog (see the "Insight Delivered" box to your right?) if peeling your eyes is too bothersome.

You could also
subscribe to my newsletter and that would make me pretty happy, too.


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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Okay, that was weird.


Ah, therapy.

Okay, it was weird.

See, usually, I talk to my wise friends (some of whom are actual therapists) when I have a problem. We might gab on the phone, grab lunch, or just plain hang out and chew the fat.

Therapy is not that. At all.

People have stated cynically that therapy is "paid friendship," but again, it's not that. At all.

Therapy is therapy. The word "therapy" means "treatment." You establish a professional relationship (i.e., somebody's paying, and it's not the silent person nodding a lot) and within this synthetic relationship, you work on how you have relationships with other people (interpersonal), or how you have a relationship with yourself (intrapersonal), and the problems therein.

When you're done, you terminate the relationship. Services rendered, thank you, good bye, and good luck.

So anyway, it was weird. Paying somebody to talk about myself and my problems made me squirm. I'm usually the listener. However, this is how talk therapy (in part) works. Client talks. Therapist listens.

It's a novel experience, to have time devoted to my issues. No friendly "so enough about me, what's going on in your life?" It feels selfish, egotistical, and narcissistic but you know what? I don't go to a doctor and stop the exam to see if her pulse is normal. I've never interrupted a massage to say, "Your hands must be tired, here, let me." I'm paying for a service.

I am so paying for a service that I keep an eagle eye on the clock. I spoke efficiently and didn't ramble as is my natural tendency. As we approached the end of our 50 minutes, I even proclaimed that our time was almost up.

"That's my job," said my therapist. (Great, now she knows I'm a control freak. Not that it wasn't obvious the minute I walked through the door. She has a GORGEOUS office, by the way, decorated like Indiana Jones. Mm! I could live there. See what I mean about rambling?)

Oh, yeah. I'm not on duty right now. I don't have to be the one to hold boundaries (I'm terrible with time-keeping in class role plays where I'm the therapist, so I guess I brought that concern with me into the office).

After the session, I felt unexpectedly raw and vulnerable. I thought I'd go in, chat about some challenges I'm facing, and be off.

It really is weird, telling a stranger your secrets. What a weird invention, this therapy thing.

Which isn't to say I'm not enjoying myself so far.

Invite Beauty,


Sunday, April 12, 2009

The eve of therapy

Purveyor of Symbols, mixed media on canvas (triptych), 36" x 36"

Tomorrow's the day.

I will be going to therapy.

It's required in my program. Fifty hours of therapy. The Board of Behavioral Sciences, heretofore known as the BBS, will triple these 50 hours to count towards the 300 hours required of burgeoning therapists.

This is a good thing, for the most part. I mean, forcing people to get therapy kind of goes against the spirit of therapy, but overall, it's a good thing, and not just because it gives the psych student a taste of what it will be like in the client's/patient's chair.

It's good because it gives one a chance to work on oneself before working with others.

There's a stereotype of therapists being the most screwed up people out there. Or that they became therapists to fix their own problems. Or that they became therapists to fix other people's problems because they couldn't fix their own problems.

This could go on ad nauseum.

Recently, I had the experience of someone pointing his finger at me when I joined my friends for dinner and say pretty much all three samples up there. He was joking, of course. Well, not really.

I responded by acknowledging that there are bad therapists.

The ones that talk endlessly about themselves when it's the client's therapy session? You betcha.

The ones that start crying and the clients end up comforting them? Oh, yes, I've heard the stories from friends who went to these therapists.

What about the ones who arrive late with a cup of overpriced coffee in their hands and no apology in their mouths? Mm-hm.

There are bad professionals in any profession. We've heard of the teachers who squashed students' creativity. Arrogant doctors who mistreated those in their care.

But there are good professionals, too.

Being a therapist for me means I get to explore what makes me tick, and to use this knowledge to help others (at best) and not to harm others (at worst). It's responsible, ethical, and imperative.

I can only help my clients go as far as I've gone in my own personal development, and it's from understanding my own suffering and healing that I draw compassion for the suffering and healing of others.

A therapist should be somebody screwed up--but who knows it, is doing something about it, and doesn't want it to adversely affect themselves or others--just like the brave clients who seek their services.

I think that's honest, noble, and heroic.

Something to strive for amidst the slings of stereotypes and arrows of belittlement.

So tomorrow, I'm looking forward to therapy.

Invite Beauty,


Thursday, April 09, 2009

Out, out, damned...everything!

Today, vandals cut a couple of AT & T's fiber optic bundles in Northern California. Silicon Valley was without wireless (and some Internet) service up until about an hour ago.

I'm always a man with a backup plan, so this troubles me that such a system could not reroute for almost a day. Verizon and Sprint networks both use AT & T's phone lines, so you can imagine the massive effect this act of sabotage had.

Anyway, I've also been without TV for over a week now (and was without Internet access the week before that) and don't miss the ol' boob tube one bit. I had to move out of my apartment temporarily (still displaced as of this writing), and I took the opportunity to return the cable box since everything was unplugged.

Recently, I've also been phasing out my shipping supplies. As people who follow my work know, I package and ship the majority of my art myself, but as I've gotten busier, I find this impacts my time to be creative (and studious) more and more. After I've used the last box, I will be shifting shipping responsibilities to professional shippers like UPS. (I may still ship large prints in mailing tubes, though.)

Out, out, out. Simplify, simplify, simplify.

Make room for something wonderful.

Invite Beauty,


The hippo cometh

Portrait of a Hippo, limited edition print (100)
13" x 19"
On sale with free shipping at my Etsy shop

The above print recently sold through my Etsy shop.

It's one of my earliest and favoritest pieces, originally done with India ink on scratchboard for a science illustration. Now, it's reproduced in glorious black and white on ultra glossy photographic paper to share with hippo lovers around the globe!

April tends to be a busy month for me, I've noticed. Business owners I talk to complain about the tax season making bear traps of everybody's wallets, but I experience the opposite effect--and I'm selling art, something that appears to be a luxury item!

In economic recessions and depressions, art tends to hold or increase its value. Just look at Sotheby's records for their auctions. Art is by far more stable than real estate, and perhaps it isn't a luxury, just as a cathedral isn't to support superstitious whims. There's something more going on in this creative endeavor.

I'm happy to say that my collectors have made wise decisions. What they bought a mere three years ago has steadily climbed in value, some several times the price they originally paid. My thanks to my collectors who have supported, encouraged, and enthusiastically shared my work with others.


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