Friday, December 31, 2010

11th Hour


It's New Year's Eve. 2010 is coming to a close.

I write this with relief, even though this is an artificial time marker for a really difficult year. I'm glad it's over. I'm glad that there's something we do as humans to punctuate our days and give our span on Earth a measure of meaning.

Over Thanksgiving break, my car (that Nintendo Prius) was rearended and totaled. Smooshed. It's gone.

I can't say much more about this experience based on the counsel of my attorney. However, what I can say is that I do miss that car, and even more so the steadfast car before that one, despite having a new car to drive. I'm actually feeling grief over the loss of those vehicles.

Grief is an odd process. It's not linear like some people think it is, or the same for everyone. It involves feeling both sadness and joy, often at the same time, as well as alternating. If emotions had words they'd be thoughts, but in the meantime, they're soup.

Anyway, grief is defined in the clinical world as a reaction to any sort of loss. It doesn't have to be death--it could be from divorce, job loss, or moving, to name a few events. A friend once told me that people experience change as loss, and there's usually mourning involved, even with something one thinks of as happy, like getting married or moving to a nicer place. Sure, there are those of us who are considered "resilient" due to a quicker recovery from grief, and I imagine the pace of recovery varies with each loss.

The reason those cars mean something to me is because my independence is tied to my vehicles. They're symbolic of my freedom. I traveled across 2/3 of the country in the first car I bought, and it ran like a dream until it got blindsided by an SUV. I got my second car as I embarked on graduate school, the beginning of a new chapter in my life; I lost that car soon after I graduated.

I suppose it's not just the calendar that marks our lives, but events like these. The ones that hurt seem to be clearest in my mind, but that makes sense. Our bodies are designed to keep us out of trouble, so a long memory for what pains us is useful.

This year I've also neglected my art for the public. The private stuff continues, but I admit, I've been wondering how to move forward as I get closer to receiving my license as a Marriage and Family Therapist. I don't divide my attention well, and my internship is intense. I enjoy my work immensely.

Meow and Zen
Then, I went to the Asian Art Museum to see their latest exhibit, Beyond Golden Clouds. Imagine my surprise when I see that the exhibit contains the very images I've drooled over in my book of Asian art from the Art Institute of Chicago's collection! The tree in Meow and Zen is directly inspired by the second screen in the slideshow found on this article from The Wall Street Journal.

The recognition felt like connection. Aesthetic arrest, as Joseph Campbell would say. That breathless moment when you're struck by the lightning of beauty and rooted where you stand.

And that's something I've learned over the last couple of years, through breakups and relationships, total losses and new cars, graduating and interning, drifting apart and befriending:

Life is loss.

Then you reconnect.

Happy New Year!

Invite Beauty,


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Crooning for heartache

A talented singer/songwriter friend of mine, Rand Hubiak, shared this music video from Matt Alber with me this morning.
I thought I'd share. I really didn't know what to expect and when the video and song finished, I felt that familiar twinge of heartache that's been so much a part of my life, and informs my own art.
(And also makes me think about same-sex marriage.)
That's all I'll write for now.
Invite Beauty,

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

O Circle

Clip from Rivers and Tides documentary about artist Andy Goldsworthy

I was watching this film again tonight and I remembered how much his art, and his process, influenced mine. He mostly works with his hands and without tools (the odd knife or hammer is sometimes used to work with tough plants like bracken or media like stone), and it reminded me of why I use my fingers instead of brushes.

I also felt a kinship with his fascination for circles and cycles, for the rhythm and flow of life.

The film is very meditative. I enjoyed it thoroughly, like a warm pot of tea.


Monday, November 01, 2010

Return to Netflix

Totally awesome: Netflix now has subtitle options on Instant Play!

That's all.

More later.

Invite Beauty,


P.S. If you wrote to complain to them about not having subtitles or captions for their Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing subscribers, please contact Netflix to compliment them on doing right by their customers.

Monday, October 04, 2010

I've got gesso

Okay, I've graduated.

I now have my Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology.

Actually, I have to wait for the university to check that all my requirements have been met, yadda yadda, and then they'll confer the degree upon me officially.

Right. I have a master's! Whoo hoo!

It was nice not having anybody say to me at graduation, "Are you going to get your doctorate?" I know friends who have had this said to them and maybe because people don't know what to say beyond "congratulations" or maybe a master's feels like it's really a half-doctorate, but regardless--I'm happy to rest on my proverbial laurels right now for some time. Enough with the homework!

However, it's a reasonable question to ask what I'm going to do next. And the answer to that is: get back to painting, read whatever I want, and relax some. I'm still working (more, in fact) at my internship to collect hours before I can sit for my licensing exam and will be writing articles again for my column, but at least I don't have the specter of school haunting me at every turn.

So. I've got some gesso for a long-delayed commission that involves me painting on wood--a support I haven't painted on yet. I'm looking forward to the experience--sometimes I painted so hard on my canvases that the canvas would stretch and I'd have to do things to tighten it again. Not so with wood!

I'll keep you guys posted. Reentry is still a little odd and I'm getting used to having a semblance of my life back--although I'm not quite the same person I was two years ago.

I'm grateful for that.

Invite Beauty,


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

One word: plastics

I finish classes on October 2. I think that means I graduate on the same day, but really, there's a period as they check out my transcript to see if the degree can be conferred upon me. (It sounds oddly passive for what took a lot of work.)

Two years of weekends. Wow. Done. Did this feel like a blur? Hardly! It's been like dog years for me. Add onto my other responsibilities a year-long traineeship that's essentially an unpaid, part-time job and we've got...well, we've got this last year. Barely any paintings posted, no shows, and graciously delayed commissions so I can concentrate on finishing up my program.

I haven't even said how much my reading list has increased in length. It's comforting to know I'll never be without something to read, already bought and on my shelves, for years and years. I guess I should include visual media on that list, too--I've got TV shows, movies, etc. to catch up on...I'll be forever behind, going, "Hey what did you think of the series finale of __________?" (Um, yeah, the rest of the world watched it years ago.) 

I think technology will help me get more up-to-date, though. I mean, with my smartphone, I'm already able to read more than when I had to lug paper books around, and I've been able to respond to some emails faster. Don't challenge me to a thumb war right now, because I will crush you. Literally. 

Other changes and upgrades coming up: I'm planning a re-design of my web site and consolidating my shops (hint: eBay, Etsy, and CafePress may be going out the door and I may be inviting in a one-stop shop; if you've been eying an Original Finger Painting in my eBay store, now is the time to make your offers while the store's running!)

Anyway, I just thought I'd take a moment and say hi again (after only one month this time...I'm improving!). I think the future is in plastics--or rather, plasticity: our flexibility and adaptability make the future not only livable, but exciting and fun. What's next?


Monday, August 23, 2010

Oh, hi

Really, is there much to say?

I've neglected this blog for almost three months. Three months! That's like...three months!

I'm in the home stretch of my grad program. I shall soon have a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology. I will have probably two and a half to three years of internship after I graduate to accumulate the 3,000 hours required to sit for the licensing exam. It's going to be a while.

I Can Dream, Original Finger Painting
And it's all worth it! I do miss the painting and sharing, though. There have been times where I've wanted to let this blog and even the difficult process of creating interesting paintings die a quiet death under the deck, but I keep hearing the whimpering so I've got to do something (well, outside of the private commissions I don't necessarily show on my blog or gallery).

I used to think that "passion" was monomaniacal--that is, it was focused on the One True Thing and if you had more than one passion, you couldn't be as focused as you needed to be for a successful life.

Okay, we can stop laughing now.

Icarus, Original Finger Painting
There are a lot of myths out there, and I don't mean that in a good, Joseph Campbell sort of way. I mean in a "where the hell did you get that idea?!" kind of way. The myths that keep us feeling less than, confused, ashamed, and not in the loop when it comes to something we're experts on: our own lives.

I'm passionate about quite a few things, and I keep pursuing them in my own way (I love wisdom but I'm not going back to school for a degree in philosophy--or art, for that matter) and they make my life, and the lives of others, interesting.

I doubt I have Oprah's drive for stardom or Bill Gates's desire for control (alt and delete), but what I have at the end of the day is a pretty neat life. It's not perfect, and it gets me down at times, but overall, I enjoy being here.

Thar He Blows, Original Finger Painting
Anyway, I also wanted to share that on July 4, 2010, I donated the three Original Finger Paintings you see in this post to the Santa Cruz AIDS Project auction to help with their fundraiser.

I'm thrilled that my art--that something beautiful--can be used to create change and support others. If you'd like to see larger images of these Original Finger Paintings, please visit the Collected section of my gallery.

The fundraiser itself was a lot of fun and it was rewarding getting to talk to the people who won the Original Finger Paintings. I don't mind the gushing!

That's enough news for now. Sorry for the, you know, three months of silence. I'm not completely back, but you reader(s) are in my thoughts--which is in no way conflated with that under deck whimpering!

Invite Beauty,


Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Change is inevitable (when you have kids)

Okay, because I'm not producing as much art for public offering (yes, by "not as much" I mean "not at all"), I have taken it upon myself to introduce you to other things that bring you a sense of peace or at least the giggles.

My latest recommendation (which is a return favor from my therapist for recommending Regretsy to her) is Shit My Kids Ruined.

Oh, this better than doing ab crunches!

Invite Beauty,


If you find the Buddha on a pendant...

Mystical Buddha in Blue, Soldered Pendant
by oliviamoon and Ivan Chan Studio

Photo by oliviamoon

I recently had the pleasure of being asked by Susan Pitts of oliviamoon (on Etsy) if we could collaborate on a piece of wearable art. 

Her respect for my work--which included asking permission to use my art--got us off on the right foot (as well as her patience--I've got a hectic schedule and it took a while for me to connect with her). 

Okay, here's my PSA (that's Public Service Announcement for those who don't know): 

It's more than a courtesy to ask an artist before using his or her work. Although it's actually a legal issue (copyright infringement and all that) with legal ramifications, what's really important is showing respect: respect for the imagination, creativity, work, finances, time, marketing, resources, history, and ultimately the person who made something special. 

PSA complete. (And just so you know, I started writing this post before hearing back from Susan about using her photograph of the pendant she created--but I'm asking and willing to replace the image. I just couldn't wait to post about it!)

Anyway, Susan loves Mystical Buddha and I have to say, it's a wonderful choice for a pendant that can be worn as either a necklace or key chain fob.

Please visit oliviamoon to check out the full details of this pendant, and of course, there's Ivan Chan Studio on Etsy, too, if you're interested in Mystical Buddha Little Beauties Art Cards and limited edition prints.

Invite Beauty,


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The blue cats of mental health!

Little Beauties Art Cards: A River Runs through Us
Ten 5" x 7" cards & envelopes
Available on Etsy and eBay

I recently made a connection on Facebook with psychotherapist Marco Cuyar.

He enjoyed my artwork so much he decided to incorporate A River Runs through Us into his web site, He'll be incorporating other images in the future.

Check it out!

Invite Beauty,


Monday, May 03, 2010

My kind of world (of Warcraft)

I'm not sure how this wonderful series, The Guild, slipped by me, but a friend recently turned me onto it and, in my usual fashion, it took me forever to get to it because I'm so busy with other stuff.

Anyway, I'm so glad I did! Felicia Day (from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog) is awesome (the fact that she writes this and is also a real-life gamer [I'm sure there's irony in there somewhere] makes this even more fun).

This kind of humor makes me feel warm and fuzzy. It's like home.

Invite Beauty,


Crouching Walls, Hidden Space

I admit, I prefer to have parallel spaces instead of serial spaces, but that's because I'm more multitask than multipurpose.

Still, this is an awesome design carried out with elegance, panache, and environmental consciousness. Nice.

Invite Beauty,


Friday, April 23, 2010


There was a time I thought I was going to be one of those bloggers who would write an entertaining blog that people would love to read.

Yeah. No. Not so much.

And I don't want to complain about all the stuff I'm juggling, because heck, I do enough of that already on this blog. However, this is mainly an art-focused blog (with some design, psychology, and philosophy thrown in), and as we've accepted, art's been scarce on my end, at least the public stuff.

So for those readers who haven't abandoned all hope of seeing new art from me or of reading something of interest on this blog, I kindly offer the last book I finished (this was for my psychopharmacology class, so it leans a lot towards the brain science side of psychotherapy): The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog.

It's difficult to read because of some gruesome details (this book is about maltreated and traumatized children's experiences, and what we learn from them), so be forewarned if you decide to pick it up.

On the other hand, it was an enlightening read. It gave me a clue to many of my own behaviors and choices in life, as well as the behaviors and choices of those around me (especially children). 

In the field of psychotherapy, it's unfortunate that children are often treated as mandated clients ("forced into therapy"), with few rights to their own emotions, thoughts, or processes. It's as if psychotherapy is treated like a bitter medicine for them to swallow, whether in the form of boot camps or even well-meaning interventions that involve coercing children into feeling emotions or remembering memories they're not ready to feel or process. 

Adults, although they can also be treated poorly by our profession, at least have a bit more power in most situations: they can stop therapy, fire the therapist, report unethical behavior, etc. That's if they're not court-mandated or pressured by family and friends to participate in therapy against their will.

And that's one of the keys in good therapy: participation. Seriously--can there even be therapy without it? And if there could, would it even be ethical?

When I've discussed this issue with other therapists and fellow interns/trainees, I've gotten the response that children need structure.

Sure, I wouldn't argue that. After all, we're mammals, and the nature of our young is that they're born immature and require parenting in order to grow, develop, and socialize properly (this is in the book).

The thing is, I think anybody coming into psychotherapy asks for structure: the length of the session, what's okay to express (any thoughts, feelings, internal experiences; not so much on the physical actions if they're hurtful), how to "do" therapy, etc.

I get that children and adults are different. Physiologically, neurologically, you name it. What I'm saying, though, is that no matter the difference, I treat everyone with respect.

Invite Beauty,


Sunday, April 11, 2010

O Year of Little Art

2009 saw very few (public) art offerings, I know. Behind the scenes was a bit different, but still, I owe you guys and I know it.

I have six months left in my program. I graduate in October, my favorite month. After I graduate, I start my internship and begin the process of collecting more hours towards being able to sit for my Marriage and Family Therapist license. This could take a year or longer, a time frame that makes me antsy.

Will this mean a longer delay than I anticipated in terms of producing new and available artwork outside of private commissions? Yes, unfortunately. It only gets more intense after I graduate.

I'm frustrated by this, because part of this adventure in being an artist was sharing it with you. I admit to wondering (again) if this isn't just a parallel path (counseling psychology), but a divergent one. I also admit to feeling like I should be able to find the time to produce more art.

Jeez. I just feel behind.

Right, not to take this completely sitting down, I forgot to mention that I separated out my Dharma Bodhisattva Little Beauties Art Card from the April's Serenity set and am offering it as its own set on Etsy.

You could always mix and match the cards you like for a set of 10, but I'm doing this to make it easy.

See? A little give. A little take. We'll get through this okay.

Invite Beauty,


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A little break

I've been working on a spreadsheet and going over the year's business. My head feels numb, but I think that's because my shoulders have clamped down on the blood supply to my neck! I need a massage.

Last year was busier than even I thought it was. For not doing as many shows or painting as much as previous years due to my graduate program in counseling psychology (I'm in the home stretch), my artwork has been pretty popular and I'm grateful. It's been a tough year, but I'm finding that when I look at the data, I'm pleasantly surprised.

Go, research! Whoo hoo!

There's nothing quite like finding out if you're actually being effective (and if you are, how, and can you duplicate it). It makes me realize that Dr. Scott D. Miller et al.'s work on what makes for an effective psychotherapist (and therapy) is really applicable to almost everything we do. Basically, seek and accept feedback. It'll improve your game.

Okay, I think some exercise is in order, but first, since I hadn't used Blogger for so long and now find that it has this neat connection to Amazon, I'm going to recommend a book by Dr. Miller. In the interest of informed consent and full disclosure: Yes, if you buy any books from through my blog, I'll get a bit of commission.

Regardless of where you get them, though, just know that I think they're pretty darn awesome!

Invite Beauty,


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

It's tax time again

I really, really, really don't like doing taxes.

It's gotten easier over the years. I'm not as anxious as I used to be about it. I think part of it is because of the tax software (well worth the investment--I don't feel like I'm alone trying to decipher the Rosetta Stone with tax forms, because the programs guide you through the process) and over the years, I've streamlined my records.

Anyway, before I let March slip through my fingers with nary a post, I'd like to share a couple of things.

1) Recently, a collector purchased A River Runs through Us. I've bid this beautiful Original Finger Painting adieu from my own studio, but I know it's going to a wonderful home! If you love this image, too, there are Little Beauties Art Cards available on eBay and Etsy.

2) Another collector took a photograph of her father showcasing the commissioned and now framed Original Finger Painting, Koi from Above, that she got him for Christmas!

I'm happy.

Okay, enough procrastinating. Back to my taxes. Although I do need to send out a newsletter one of these days. It's been a while...!

Invite Beauty,


Friday, February 26, 2010

Brains, awareness, and options

Yes, I've been busy.

And now I shall add insult to injury by making a faux post! Here's a video of a clip from a special called, Ape Genius.

It's been popping up in my head lately. I think it's because I'm in the midst of studying psychopharmacology, and because I'm studying how awareness of our options helps us to adapt (and how being unaware of our options prevents us from finding what can be elegant solutions).

Moral of the story?

Think chimp.

You might just solve your puzzles.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Doctors without Borders

I'm still rather swamped, but I wanted to put this out there to help those in Haiti:

Please consider a donation to Doctors without Borders. To find out more about this organization and to donate, please visit:

I will be looking to eBay's Giving Works program to see if I can add Doctors without Borders to my list of donation recipients. I'll let you know and post my offering here.


Tuesday, January 05, 2010

I heard the news today, oh boy.

Early last Sunday, a gay man was attacked by a heterosexist assailant inside of a local, gay-friendly bar in the relatively accepting town of Santa Cruz.

This reminds me of the terrorist attacks by racists in the South, who were blowing up churches attended by Black people, which were located in Black neighborhoods.

Coincidentally, a friend told me about this video about a water buffalo calf being attacked by lions and crocodiles at a watering hole. It's kind of long, but worth watching until the end.

What I get from the video is this, and it applies to injustice everywhere: Fight back, and fight back together.


Sunday, January 03, 2010

New from Ivan Chan Studio! Rapture Card Set

1 image
10 cards & envelopes

Yes, I've been busy and neglecting my verbal duties! My apologies.

I've had a few requests for this image to be one of my Little Beauties Art Cards, and I'm just getting around to it. It started as a special card for a special someone this New Year, and now I'm offering it to the public.

Little Beauties: Rapture Card Set is available both on Etsy and eBay, or you may contact me to purchase sets directly from my studio.

Wishing you boundless beauty in the New Year!