Thursday, September 20, 2012

pARTy at the Library!

Wow, yeah, I'm still here, and it's roughly three months since my last post! I spent the summer recuperating from the intensity that was doing three counseling internships! Hence (sigh), no artwork to share.

However, there's a party I want to tell you about! This is the "pARTy at the Library" fundraiser, hosted by the Friends of the Scotts Valley Library, and happening this Saturday on September 22, from 7-10 pm. Tickets are $20.

What can I say? Books and art together--it's a wonderful thing. What's even better? An art auction to help support the library!

Imagine bidding on a beautiful work of art and getting to bring it home, while supporting a great cause. I've donated four pieces, featured below (please click on the images to read more about them). Here's your chance to own an Original Finger Painting by me.

The Flower of Compassion, oil on canvas, 18" x 36" COLLECTED
The Flower of Compassion
Oil on Canvas, 18" x 36"

Make a Wish, mixed media on canvas, 15" x 30" COLLECTED
Make a Wish
Mixed  on Canvas, 15" x 30"

Serenata Plata, oil on canvas, 18" x 36" COLLECTED
Serenata Plata
Oil on Canvas, 18" x 36"

Essence of Motion, oil on canvas, 18" x 36" COLLECTED
Essence of Motion
Oil on Canvas, 18" x 36"

And there ya are! I won't be able to attend the event due to a previous engagement, but I hope you do and that you enjoy yourself!

Invite Beauty,


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

It's summer


Yeah, it's me again. Almost three months later. That seems to be the average time I revisit this blog and surreptitiously, not to mention guiltily, post.

I realize that some have been waiting (or forgot they were waiting) with unabated breath the final image of the commissioned tree painting. That will be forthcoming, but will require re-photographing on my part, so I apologize, once more, for the delay.

Any other news to report with contrition?

Well, it's heading into summer, and I'm both sad and happy to report that I will be finishing up two counseling internships. One internship ended at the end of May (but will resume in late August or early September), and the other internship will be done at the end of this month. Whew!

It will be nice to have a break, and be able to focus on my private practice internship.

Ideally, this will also give me time to begin painting again. It will depend on how quickly I recuperate from the intense work schedule I've had these last couple of years, but I hope to provide some beautiful artwork for your eyes this summer, before the fall comes in to sweep me back into two internships.

Oh! And I've received an inquiry about participating in an art show next summer! It's been a while, but I love this curator and look forward to sharing my work, both past and future, in her show.

In the meantime, please visit the Ivan Chan Studio Etsy shop for Original Finger Paintings, limited edition prints, and collectible greeting cards!

I think of you all often. Trust that I haven't forgotten.

Invite Beauty,


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Creating the Family Tree: Sketch #5

Okay, so they didn't like the trees.

I played with the branches and leaves again, and moved the rolling hill on the left over to give more space to the tree, compared with Sketch #4. I also took out one of the roots, but it wasn't symbolic, I was just sketching and trying to balance the image.

During this time of sketching, I was looking intensely at a lot of trees and artwork that focused on trees.

That's the gift of being an artist, though. You get to look at your world closely, and realize it's more than you'll ever comprehend, and then try to communicate it.

Invite Beauty,


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Creating the Family Tree: Sketch #4

Tree sketch #4

After my patrons saw Sketch #3, they said they wanted to see all of the tree within the boundaries of the surface. I experimented with a different kind of "leaf" style and you can see that the branches are different, too--not as thick and heavy.

Also, we discussed having a more dynamic landscape than in Sketch #3, so I added a rolling hill and made the water flow, rather than have a still pond as in the previous sketch. There are also a few trees in the distance on the hill. This echoed my Original Finger Painting, I Am There:

I Am There, Original Finger Painting, 12" x 16", oil on canvas, COLLECTED

It also reflects the landscape found from an Original Finger Painting in my Here Kitty Series, Three Cats from the Mountain:

To read about each Original Finger Painting, please click on their titles. I've made neither I Am There nor Three Cats from the Mountain into Little Beauties Art Cards, but you can find other beautiful and collectible art cards printed on eco-friendly, 100% postconsumer, matte cardstock in my Etsy shop.

Three Cats from the Mountain, Original Finger Painting, 12" x 36", oil on canvas, COLLECTED

Anyway, you'll see in the next sketch the results of my patrons' feedback. Only two more sketches until the final sketch, and then I reveal the Original Finger Painting!

Invite Beauty,


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Dance and sing, because it's fun.

I'm all about the cross-cultural, so I thought I'd share this video a friend shared on Facebook. Is it art? Hellz yeah.


Invite Beauty,


Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Creating the Family Tree: Sketch #3

So that tree wasn't big enough in Sketch #2.

I increased the trunk, added more branches, and added water as well (in the right bottom corner).

The tree roots represented the four members of the family (this will eventually change for practical reasons).

Here again, you see the crown of the tree spreading beyond the bounds of the image area.

Okay, there. Short and sweet blog post.

Invite Beauty,


Friday, March 02, 2012

Creating the Family Tree: Sketch #2

I heard rumors that someone actually read my blog, so I'm going to post just in case this rumor is true, and that this person or people have something to read during the wee hours of insomnia.

I mean, it's been almost two months since my last post. Insomnia for most people is a daily or almost daily event, so who am I to deny a person something to read that may A) offer companionship and/or B) make them crave sweet unconsciousness?

And since this is an art blog (stop laughing), I am going to give you something to look at other than words. Oh, and I'm also thinking of making shorter blog posts, because that would mean bite-sized quality and quantity. It's like a handmade chocolate truffle.

I think the trouble with blogging for me (yes, I'm getting off topic, but this is my blog, isn't it?) is that I'm not thinking, "Oh! I've got to blog about X, I want to share this with other people!" Facebook, that destroyer of class reunions, has been my immediate outlet for this sort of behavior. Why craft an entire post when you can post to your status, "Dude, I got the best sofa!" (more on that later)?

However, a blog post is, by my account, more thoughtful and a different kind of engagement than a status update. Anyway, I don't update my status that often, either. I don't feel the need to report on what or how I'm doing in a public forum unless I think it actually contributes to the world. I'm quirky like that.

Right, so here's the second sketch for the Lee's family tree Original Finger Painting (the first sketch is posted here). You can see how I've responded to their feedback (and to the quick sketch Mr. Lee drew for me of what was in his head; he's actually quite an artist), with a curvaceous trunk, lower hanging branches, and overall bigger tree-ness.

You may also notice that the tree extends off the borders in my typical fashion of ignoring edges. A friend commented on my painting, Rapture (which is available as a Little Beauties Art Card in my Etsy shop) on how she hadn't seen the halo go off the canvas because her mind had successfully completed the divine circle.

Yes, my friends, that's Gestalt at work! Our brains naturally fill in missing information, and artists have played with this kind of audience participation since before chunky 3D glasses were needed to make you feel part of the experience.

The commission continued to evolve as the Lees added and subtracted different elements for the intended painting. They joke about the many requests and changes they made (there are three more sketches for me to post, not to mention changes made during the actual painting process I didn't document to share on this blog later), but that's part of the fun of a commission--the collaboration between artist and patron, as they dream something into existence.

Invite Beauty,


Monday, January 23, 2012

Bringing passion to a boil

Wow, look, another post in the same month! (Don't get used to it.)

It is now New Year's Day in the lunar calendar. I've made this point before that it's not the "Chinese" New Year, but the Lunar New Year. Why? Because other Asian cultures celebrate the Lunar New Year, too! So, on behalf of my people (who just call it New Year), I want to let people know we are not trying to hog the Lunar New Year.

So, I understand that this is primarily an art blog and that there has been very little art. Yes. I know. The art has been subsumed by the immense amount of time and effort the three internships (yes, you read that right) have been taking.

That's a lot of psychology. It's a lot of therapy.

I might have written before that I practice a kind of therapy known as FIT, which is short for Feedback-Informed Treatment (or Therapy). It's an outgrowth of CDOI, which stands for Client-Directed Outcome-Informed therapy. Basically, they are two approaches, rather than theories, which utilize feedback from clients to improve positive outcome in therapy.

Getting feedback works well in any situation where you'd like to improve or have more success. Randy Pausch (may he rest in peace) of The Last Lecture fame, advised, "Get a feedback loop; and listen to it!" It could be measurements (like an evaluation at work or grade at school) or a person (like someone you trust to tell you the truth, customers in your restaurant, etc.), but whatever your feedback loop is, pay attention if you hope to develop your potential. We keep thinking in terms of the hero being The One and all alone, but if you look back, all heroes had allies and gifts (and a gift is given to you--by someone or something else).

Anyway, where FIT and CDOI differ (as I understand it) is that FIT is concerned with the excellence of the therapist's skills, like that of a concert pianist or Olympic athlete, beyond any sort of psychological theory.

CDOI is more strongly rooted in the "common factors" which state that all theories and interventions have about the same, minimal effect and that there are other, more powerful factors at work in psychotherapy that help clients get better, and that all factors (there are mainly four) are common to all therapeutic practices. It's an "anti-theory," since theories aren't seen as the star of treatment (it's the client). However, in being an anti-theory, it's become a theory of its own.

And once again, I do have a point. As interested as I am in psychotherapy, a friend who is also a FIT practitioner talked with me and I just had to admit: My passion is not in being one of the so-called "supershrinks." It gave me no tingle to strive for this level of achievement.

"So, what do you have passion for, if not psychotherapy?" he asked.

"My clients. I have a passion for people to be happy. I care about what happens to them, and I study psychotherapy to serve that end, but psychotherapy in and of itself isn't my passion."

There I had it (although my friend still had to describe it to me)! My passion (one of them, at least) is about helping people live happier lives. Ease their suffering and so forth. Psychotherapy is just another vehicle for it.

Another therapist friend during another conversation gave me a homework assignment.

"Every night for a week, write down what you were passionate about that day. It doesn't have to be career related. This will strengthen your muscle for discovering and accepting what your passions are."

Let me tell you, this is a great homework assignment!

I am passionate about soup.
I am passionate about dandelion greens and unusual edibles.
I am passionate about conversations.
I am passionate about blue.

That's just a sampling, but I have to say, the one that kind of struck me was my passion for conversation.

I thought of books as a letter, or conversation in the form of a story, with the authors. I felt safe and thrilled when I read wonderful stories, and moved when I read poems. I didn't feel alone in what was a very dangerous world to me. Comics were a particular treat because the conversation was both visual and textual.

I always thought I'd be an author when I grew up. (I still do.) I wanted to give that sense of security, hope, and fun to others. I wanted to share my philosophy of life, any wisdom I had gathered, through entertaining stories.

Oh, right. The other thing I'm super passionate about: Imagination. It takes my breath away and makes life worth living. If you haven't watched Six Degrees of Separation, please do. The part about the imagination in that film is wonderful. Imagination is not escapism, it's a way to go deeper into life.

And since there was an art dealer in the film, I cannot forget my first and unrelenting passion for beauty.

I am Passionate about Happiness and Conversation and Imagination and Beauty.

Ain't that a hoot?

Invite Beauty,


Thursday, January 12, 2012

It's been a long time, baby

Jeez, is it really going to be every three months that I post an update, and without any new art?

I hate it when businesses make a promise they don't keep, and yet I'm guilty of it quite a few times in the last couple of years. I suppose I could just not draw attention to this breach of your trust, but I feel it wouldn't be honest.

So here I am, exposing my mistakes and asking once again for your forbearance. Those who are only newsletter readers probably have figured I've fallen off the face of the earth like another business casualty of the bad economy or the flightiness that seems endemic in artistic types.

I'll have to correct that misunderstanding some day. Not soon, though--I've learned not to promise that.

So what will I need to catch up on, once I'm done with my psychotherapy internships and have my license? (Dear Universe: Please make it less than two years left before I get all 3,000 hours to sit for my license exam!)

I've got a few solstice paintings to do. Those will be fun, and I'm always flattered that they're quick favorites.

I've also got to finish blogging about the family tree commission I completed last year. That was a fun project, too. I do love trees, they express so much. If we could express as much by standing still and being quiet, this would be a very different world.

I'm also planning a sale and donation of my older works to make room for the new and to support worthy causes, respectively. It's no secret, also, that I paint over some paintings and recycle the canvas, if not the image, for new dreamings. Nothing's sacred. Everything's sacred.

The New Year brings with it such promise, mostly because we say so. Truth is, we can start with a resolution any time we like. I also like that a friend of mine doesn't do resolutions, and prefers to have a "New Year's Theme" instead. Isn't that brilliant? To live according to a theme seems so much more sustainable and doable. A theme is like the air you breathe. A resolution is like a chore. Hm, which one is more fun?

One of my themes this year is "purified passion."

What I mean by that is, I've been burdened over the years with the idea that whatever I did, it had to have a strong social impact. Social justice had to be a part of whatever I undertook, and really, that wasn't fair to me.

Yes, I do believe in social justice. It's one of my core values. However, it's not the top core value--it belonged to my beloved teachers in high school who taught me to care about the environment, people, endangered species, and all that good stuff.

However, I've been longing to have a purified passion, a passion that isn't laden with this kind of virtue for the sake of virtue and conscience. Rather, a passion that is a passion because it's a passion.

Remember when you wanted to be good at something, just because? When you had to get that trick on the skateboard right, or you practiced your handwriting so that it looked the way you wanted it to look?

That's the kind of passion I'm talking about. I remember as a kid I wasn't worried about the homeless or how my paint materials might affect the ecosystem. I dreamed of being a superhero, a novelist, an actor, and a comic book writer.

I wanted to save the world (that hasn't changed) and I wanted to thrill it with stories, entertain it with comedy and drama, lift its spirit through heroism and strange insights.

Where does being an artist fit into this? Or my crazy love of interior design? What about my fascination with philosophy? Or the pursuit of well being and self-acceptance through psychotherapy?

I don't know. I've had so many years of other people's voices layered on top of mine, that the last three decades have been a process of submitting, then succumbing, and finally emerging into my own sense of self.

I still struggle with a feeling of shame when I admit what I would like to do, yet I revel in the artistry of those who follow their passions unapologetically (especially when I benefit). I am grateful for the sushi chef hellbent on making the best sushi ever. I swoon for the storyteller that excavates slowly a heartbreaking story I'll never forget.

So not all filmmakers turn out to be George Lucas. The point, though, isn't that Lucas aimed to make Star Wars to affect the world. The point is that he did what he loved, told a story he was passionate about, and everything that came afterwards was unexpected gravy.

We have no right and no control over what other people think of us and what we do. We can only do what we do with integrity, and determination if it calls for it.

Up, up, and away!

Invite Beauty,