Monday, August 31, 2009

Eine kleine nachtsketch: vampire

Rose of Black, vampire sketch
I had been planning some vampire (love 'em) paintings for about two years now, and I'm just getting to them. (Still working on the winter solstice painting for 2008.) What can I say, I walk to the beat of a very slow, erratic, and distractible drummer.

Anyway, my friend who went by the alias of "Rose of Black" did me a huge favor back in November of '07 and modeled some excellent vampiric photo references for me. She's perfect for the part and her large, mesmerizingly beautiful green eyes will translate well when I reinterpret her as a creature of the night.

I'll be doing other sketches and maybe sharing them. I'm not sure which one I'll develop into a full painting and when, but you bet your bottom dollar you'll find it on Insight one of these days.

Now, off to sleep before sleep is on to me.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Latika Olive Lanterns from Cost Plus World Market
(Also comes in amber and clear)

I've been hankering after these Moroccan style lamps for quite a while now, wherever I see them. They're conveniently sold at Cost Plus World Market (and there are some chic versions at Z Gallerie, too).

These lamps add color, sparkle, and romance to a place with their intricate design and intimate candlelight. I'd love to see a bunch of them, hanging over a patio table, or large ones keeping sentry on each side of a French doorway.

Ever since I watched Hideous Kinky, I've been coveting these lanterns even more.

I do love mystery in my experience of being alive! Perhaps something to paint...


Monday, August 24, 2009

If you build's IKEA

Expedit shelving unit from IKEA

I love the Expedit series from IKEA! It hits my Zen, minimalist, modernist, functional, and aesthetic buttons in just the right way.

This year, IKEA has come out with this beautiful variation of the versatile Expedit shelving unit. I love the asymmetry! It reminds me of a Chinese wooden window frame, or a shelving system for displaying gorgeous vases and teapots. Imagine each cubby with a spotlight!

Drool. And can ya believe the price? $99. It makes the blood, swearing, and tearing involved with putting together some of IKEA's furniture worth it!

Tack, IKEA!


Remodeled blog

Okay, I admit: I'm impressed with myself and I'm impressed with the generosity of strangers.

A few years ago, when I first started selling my Original Finger Paintings and drawings online, I started Ivan Chan Studio: Insight and wished that Blogger (bless their free service hearts) had a template that had three columns like all the cool blogs had!

I knew that the HTML could be rewritten, but I didn't know how to do it. So I put it off and figured one of these days, I'd get to it.

(By the way, this is known as a "contemplative phase" and can last for years; it's part of a "change model" that maps out how people go through the process of changing habits, addictions, etc.)

On one of my more productive Internet surfing sessions, I came across Guys Lit Wire. I don't remember why I decided to ask them about creating three columns in a Blogger template, but I did. Sarah Stevenson, their webmaster, wrote me back and graciously offered me this link to Hackosphere.

Ta-da! Three columns! *Beams*


I yam what I yam (and I yam a psychotherapist)

As I've begun my traineeship (like an internship, but something that's done while I'm still in my master's program; my internship will begin after I graduate next year), I am officially a psychotherapist.

Not because "I feel like one." Not because I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me. Nope.

Evidence Code 1010 in the California law books says that I am. In fact, if you're wondering who can call him- or her-self a psychotherapist, please visit the link.

Anyone can be called a "therapist"--that title isn't protected. You can be a chocolate therapist or humor therapist and just say "therapist" for short. However, if you or someone you know or met is in a mental health context and is calling him- or her-self a therapist (implying "psychotherapist") but isn't licensed, a psychiatrist, or an intern/trainee under supervision--we've got problems.

That's illegal and misleading. Just so's you know. They can be called counselors, mental health client specialists, etc. but not a psychotherapist.

Part of why I'm writing this is not only to celebrate (yea!) but also because from what I gather, the public is largely uninformed or misinformed about psychotherapy.

In the spirit of consumer education and protection, I shall humbly offer posts from time to time regarding the nature of psychotherapy and the laws and ethics that bind and define its practice, to the best of my ability.

Those out there in the know, please feel free to add, correct, adjust, and question!

Invite Beauty,


Friday, August 14, 2009

The river in miniature

Pagoda Fountain from Z Gallerie

There's an online sale at Z Gallerie of their fountains! As a counterpoint to the overwhelming modern design that people blog about, I'd like to introduce more of the fanciful, Asian- and other cultures-inspired designs available out there.

I enjoy modern, vintage, retro, and minimal aesthetics for sure, but have ya seen my art? How's about a little flava, a bit of unnecessary but thirst-quenching decorative flair?

Anyway, this is my first post in my clarified and reoriented blog. I was beginning to go in all directions--overwhelmed as my life and art have been by counseling psychology school and my passion for interior design--and I didn't know how to integrate it gracefully into my existing blog.

So, I changed the purpose of my blog by consciously expanding its purpose. (I love finding new uses for old things.) Like an industrial building that once sheltered people while they worked and now shelters people where they live, I'm rezoning Insight to be more than my Original Finger Paintings, events, press, and what's going on in my studio.

I'm making Insight about my art, all of it, and the psychology, design, and philosophy that inspires it.

Yeah, yeah, I know. I was doing that all along. But I always felt badly that I wasn't sticking to my blog's stated mission. So, I pulled a Kobayashi maneuver and adapted my mission to the reality of how I used my blog and I feel on track.

To paraphrase a comment from my friend of She Sews Seashells, funny how it's still the same thing even with the new label.

Anyway, back to the fountain: I love the sound of water--whether it's the ocean, a river, a storm, or a fountain. It's soothing and reminds me from time to time of a key element in Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha, about the life of the historical Buddha.

Water plays many roles in our symbolic lives, from representing impermanence to unity to sex and it's something I enjoy painting--a frustrating and meditative task--whether it's with an incarnation (or three) of my blue cat, Here Kitty in A River Runs through Us:

Or as a regular feature in my Original Finger Paintings within my Merman Series, such as Thar He Blows:

I don't nearly swim enough in it (or probably drink enough of it, although I have a "tea defense"), but that's alright. I respect water, its power and primacy in our lives, and that's enough.

(Side note: A friend offered me his membership to a local swimming pool because he wasn't using it anymore--a wish I had been silently making and without anybody's knowledge over the last couple of weeks. Interesting how that sort of stuff happens, huh?)


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Adventures in splitting

Little Beauties Art Cards: Coupe de Foudre available on Etsy

Splitting in psychological terms is a defense that involves "splitting" a person or object in one's mind into two opposing parts.

The classic example is when a kid thinks his mom is a "bad mom" because she doesn't meet his needs immediately or completely; conversely, the same mother is a "good mom" when she does meet his needs immediately or completely. (If you smell control issues, you're right.)

However, don't let the classic example mislead you (especially since mothers get the brunt of blame in psychological theories). Parents can also "split" their children into "bad daughter" and "good daughter" depending on obedience or other compliance and self-discipline issues. (If the scent of control issues is wafting your way, again, your senses don't fool you.)

We can also split ourselves, and a key to knowing when this happens is if somewhere in our heads we hear or get the feeling that we "should" do or not do something. If I get angry at someone, I may feel ashamed of my anger and think of myself as a "bad person," someone who loses control of his temper and isn't as nice as I think I (should) be.

On the other hand, if I do what I think I'm supposed to do, I'm a "good person." (If you're tasting perfectionism in this self-splitting behavior, your buds are serving you well!)

In the end, as we mature and encounter reality--which not all of us do--we realize that these extreme opposites don't adequately encompass our experience of someone or something. Our parents can be both good and bad at the same time, as can our children, and ourselves.

We can be good enough (an actual psychological term), meaning we do our best at any given time, that we may not always--if ever--be super-parent or teen of the year, and that it's alright. It's okay. Nobody's evil, terrible, awful and no catastrophes, disasters, death, or lost limbs occur because the baby cried for a minute longer or your kid got a B.

I'm writing about splitting because after all these years of thinking I was a pretty self-aware kinda guy, in talking with my therapist she pointed out that I was splitting myself. Good student/bad student, disciplined exerciser/lazy couch potato, professional/inappropriate, passionate artist/flaky wanderer, etc.

I had no idea I was doing it. Complete blind spot.

She suggested that I may split myself because I had no safe quarter to be "good enough" in my life. I had to be the good son, the responsible brother, the A student...high and noble standards to strive for, but when unreasonably subscribed to, create a lot of heartache, and shame.

My therapist ended that particular session by saying, "You don't get to be perfect, but you still get to be great." I like that.

Now, when I'm about to split, I stop and calm myself down. It helps to recognize the irrationality of thinking in extremes, but it takes a whole lotta practice, patience, and compassion.

My thanks to my family, friends, collectors, and art appreciators for supporting me as I go through these growth spurts and slow changes!


Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Get in line to slap me

Sunflower on a gloriously foggy day, courtesy of my phone's camera

I got an A in my Elementary Statistics class.

That's right. An A.

I have tortured all of you, near and far, with my anxiety, depression, and hysteria (did I leave anything out? Those are kinda umbrella terms...) over my stats tests and my hypothesis (claim) that I shall fail grandly. (One friend was speechless upon hearing the actual, final grade; another just said, "Oh! I want to slap you!")

I had gotten good at challenging my irrational belief (a la Albert Ellis's Rational-Emotive-Behavioral Therapy, or REBT for short, which always makes me want to sing R-E-S-P-E-C-T) that having to take stats again should I fail would not be terrible, awful, and a catastrophe--merely an inconvenience.

And oh, I did not want that inconvenience.

Anyway, I passed, so ha-HA!!!

I deserve to be slapped. But first, I want to thank the teacher who supported and guided me through all the mathematical mayhem (at least in my mind): Jennifer Cass.

Her lectures, notes, humor, patience, and compassion seriously got me through the six weeks where I thought I was going to quit because too much was going on in my life--and not just quit the stats class. I felt everything was up for grabs.

So if you're going to take a math class at Cabrillo, try and get Jennifer. She'll stick by you if you stick by her, and you might even come out of her class liking math. She's the best (and probably last) math teacher I'll have, and that makes me both happy and sad. If I didn't have such a hard time with math, I'd probably delve into statistics further (it's really fascinating).

And no, she didn't pay me to say any of these nice things. Completely heartfelt! The truth is, I kept off saying anything about her until the class was done.

Taking Ethics and the Law as I was for my psych program, my awareness was heightened that I could be unduly pressuring or unconsciously attempting to bias her to treat me favorably (she would never do that in any case--you should have heard her rain down on cheaters and cheating!), so I waited until the class was finished and she gave me a grade before I wrote anything.

And yes, I would have written the same nice things had I not received a grade that satisfied my program. The relationship between my performance to her skills as a teacher is merely correlative, not causative. I only know that I did the best I could, and so did she, and I'm giving her props.

Now. Pick a number. Get in line for the slapping, although I'll accept a hearty high-five!