I’m very excited to showcase the first five boats, in a series of six, hanging at Nonni's Bistro in downtown Pleasanton. My goal for the boat series is to capture traditional sailing boats and dug out canoes ‘in action’ and cementing them in oil on a canvas for future generations to read. Dugout sailing boats and outriggers are the oldest boats around and continue to be used in many parts around the world for fishing and transportation. The knowledge of how these boats are build and the traditional link they provide with the sea are quickly getting lost with the rapid rise of globalization.
While driving home today, I followed a car with the license plate “IS 66.” I guessed by the added flag sticker that “IS 66” meant Iceland located at 66 degrees latitude. How appropriate, the day I finished painting Icicle, the Icelandic horse with the 80s punk rock hairdo.
Three summers ago we stayed at a converted sheep farm where Icicle roamed the surrounding fields. Iceland is covered with over 80,000 Icelandic horses. Not bad for an island you can circumnavigate by car in one day – one long day. Why so many horses? Icelanders don’t eat horse meat. Turns out they are mostly used for breeding, exporting and enjoyment. Our girls couldn’t get enough of Icicle; feeding him grass in the cold summer winds and petting his puffed up mane. They even got to ride Icelandic horses, a highlight of our road trip.
It was Icicle’s big hairdo that attracted me to put him on canvas: A kind reminder of our time north of 66.
PEDALS IN THE WIND
“Stop putting graffiti on that box,” yelled a lady as she was driving through the traffic light. This was the second day of painting my third utility box: “Pedals in the Wind.” I tried to explain to her that it was part of the city’s utility box beautification program called “Project Paint Box.” She didn’t buy it.
Her comment made me think about art versus graffiti. Is graffiti art? Is it always vandalism? What is art? What is street art? What is graffiti?
Banksy, an anonymous English graffiti artist, uses stencils and spray paint to spread messages of art and politics on crowded city streets, walls, and bridges. His name and identity remain unknown – graffiti is a crime. However, in 2010, Time Magazine featured Banksy as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Utility boxes have flowered into some of the best showcases for public art. To deter them from graffiti, cities around the world are asking local artists to use them as a canvas for artistic expression – with council prior approval of the design.
The lady that thought I was defacing the utility box with graffiti did return to apologize. She was trying to be a conscientious citizen. That was very brave of her. Street art will continue to spark debate: Is it art? Is it graffiti? I would love to hear Banksy’s take on it one day.
On behalf of myself and the city of Pleasanton, I'd like to thank Bob and Joanne Rossi Becker for sponsoring another box. Kudos also go to Robbie Helms at Valley View Elementary School for coming up with the awesome title: “Pedals in the Wind.”
Meet Lintilla, our newest member to the "Artful Animals" family. Can you guess her favorite color?
Lintilla is a much loved cat who lived a relatively quiet life up until a number of years ago when a small dog was adopted into her home. Forget about sleeping on the big bed. Forget about curling up on the couch for a mid-morning nap. Forget about lying on the window sill to bask in the late afternoon sun. The only safe place in the house, high enough, turns out to be the bathroom sink – her favorite hang out place.
The original photograph is of Lintilla enjoying her perch on the sink vanity; however, this unattractive background has been exchanged with a wash of her favorite color – purple.
This is a portrait of Klara, peaking from behind a tree. The photograph was taken by a friend while on one of our many camping trips. She didn't wear glasses yet but pink and purple are still her favorite colors.
Below is a 2-minute time lapse of me painting Klara's portrait. Enjoy!
Spring air -
and plum scent.
- Matsuo Basho (Japanese Poet)
This portrait is of a Japanese bride, wearing a simple, floral kimono and a delicate flower-motif hair ornament, kanzashi, made of silk plum blossoms. The plum blossom holds a special place in Japanese traditions: it represents spring, a time of new beginnings, and is associated with beauty, purity, hope and the transitoriness of life.
Many came to celebrate the launching of The Red Lantern and viewing of the oil paintings, the basis for all the illustrations in the book, at the Firehouse Theater. Thank you Judy at Towne Center Books for suggesting and offering your space for the book launching party; thank you Julie at the Firehouse Theater for showcasing the oil paintings all month long; and thank you to all my dear, dear friends for coming out to support me this morning.
60" X 48" OIL ON CANVAS
I’m ecstatic. It’s finally here. Seeing my book officially displayed on Amazon, sends ripples down my spine. Thank you to the many friends and colleagues in the teaching and book business profession who read and critiqued The Red Lantern. It has come a long way and I’m proud of the final version.
The idea for this book started with an antique ginger jar. A former student of my had spent the summer at her grandfather’s antique shop in Hong Kong. When she saw the ginger jar, it reminded her of me and she kindly brought it back as a gift with a note: “Ma chère ancienne professeure.”
I had hoped to set the story in Hong Kong with a ginger jar genie. Turns out there are no genies in the Chinese culture. Eventually, the ginger jar got replaced by a red lantern; the genie by the Jade Emperor’s daughter, and the genie’s three wishes became three lantern riddles. It was very fitting to tie the story into modern day Chinese New Year and the lantern festival.
This book is the perfect gift for young children, teachers interested in celebrating Chinese New Year in their classroom, and grandparents who need a souvenir to bring home to their grandchildren after visiting San Francisco’s China town.
Please order a copy of The Red Lantern and take a few minutes to rate it on Amazon.
My first art exhibition was in Middle School when three different projects of mine were framed and hung on the school’s hallway walls. You never forget that feeling of pride, knowing someone liked your work enough to hang it on a wall for all to see.
Soul Searching is not my first exhibition as I’ve been part of group, solo, juried and non-juried shows in the past. However, The Spirit of Africa and the Diaspora feels like my first “coming out” show.
The four African portraits I painted, managed to take me back 30 years, when a college friend, who grew up in Kenya, introduced me to the Swahili song “Jambo Bwana” on her cassette player while cruising through downtown Vancouver. We thought we were being really cool.
I fell in love with Africa the first time I saw the movie Out of Africa, starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep. This was followed by receiving my first A+ mark for an English composition based on the novel by Joseph Conrad Heart of Darkness. Not many years later, I found myself traversing the African continent on our honeymoon, camping in some of the most incredible spots in the world.
My hope was to capture that young, free, adventurous spirit in these portraits.
The Maasai warrior represents strength and ownership. He reminds me of an experience where we met a group of local Batu men while traveling the Serengeti. These hunters were on their way into the desert, carrying spears and poison arrows, dressed in business suits while riding their bicycles – some had doubled up. Maasai had taken their cattle the night before and it was time for revenge. The Maasai believe that God gave them all the cattle in the world; hence they were just taking back what belonged to them. However; the park warden stopped them, at least long enough until we were out of sight.
The Maasai bride symbolizes passage and union. She is on her way to marry, a passing from youth into adulthood, to new beginnings. She is also covered in red: beads, cloth and mud mixed with goat’s blood, a color that signifies union.
The two portraits of Catherine reinforce the importance of friendship. Given today’s political climate, with the rise of tribalism in the West, it’s friendship that crosses all borders, languages and cultures.
Come see the exhibit Soul Searching: the Spirit of Africa and the Diaspora if you haven’t already. Even better, if you have time this Saturday, come and take part in “A Taste of Africa” Festival to strengthen our global community in Pleasanton through dance, music, arts and food.
The Independent Newspaper: 'Soul Searching' Exhibition Opens at Harrington Gallery
Leonardo da Vinci once said, “An artist’s studio should be a small space because small rooms discipline the mind and large ones distract it.”
The curator of our local museum recently emailed me requesting a visit to ‘my studio.’ Disconcertion soon took over from initial excitement as Grandma was sleeping in ‘my studio’ – it also doubles as the guest bedroom.
I prefer a neat, organized space. There isn’t much room in ‘my studio’ to make it chaotic and messy: it has a light table, desk, easel, good lighting, storage shelves and a twenty year old carpet I don’t care much about – the paint stains blend in well. It’s a place for me to make art.
Picasso filled all the rooms in his home with different art projects. When he ran out of space, he just moved to a bigger house. I’d love to take over the living room, but we do need to live somewhere.
A local artist Kaethe Bealer lives and paints on her boat. I also can’t stop thinking about the artists who lived and created at the Oakland “Ghost Ship” warehouse that went up in flames not too long ago. This is after all Silicon Valley where some of the most successful technology companies started out in a garage. The guest bedroom – it‘s not such a shabby place to be.
Would I like more space? For sure: especially at the growth rate of my canvas sizes – the bigger the better. However, for the time being, I’m content to paint in 'my studio!'
Artists create series of paintings whether it's a variation on one theme, like Degas' ballet dancers; or different versions of a single subject, like van Gogh's sunflowers.
Monet had many variations of water lilies but also did series on one theme: haystacks, Rouen Cathedral and poplar trees, to try and capture different lights at different times throughout the day or season.
Last spring, I decided to start a series on boats. I figured if I had to spend a lot of time painting the same subject, it better be something that inspired me: I love to sail and I love boats.
While traveling through places like the stilt village in the middle of Lake Nokoue, West Africa, I was in awe at how well young boys navigated dug out canoes with makeshift sails of sewn together rice sacks. I dug up some old photos from our visit to Benin and begged dear friends, Evan and Diane, who are currently sailing around the world, to email me images they had taken of ‘interesting’ boats. Et voila, I was on my way prepping six canvases for my ‘sailboat’ series.
Like so often in life, the progress on the ‘sailboat’ series got interrupted as a new opportunity presented itself. A dear ‘mom’ friend, Catherine, who is actively engaged in promoting African culture in our community, asked me if I was interested in painting five paintings for A Taste of Africa Festival 2017, a celebration of diversity, arts, culture and global citizenship. Well, du huh! Off course I was not only honored to be asked but thrilled to start another series, this one on African portraits.
Again, I dug through photographs of our trip across the African continent and begged dear friends, Chanan and Maria, who live in South Africa, to send me photos, images, anything that portrayed the richness of the African culture. With the help of Catherine, we managed to narrow the selection down to five.
Now, all still needed were the right sized panels. I headed off to Michael’s and bought five of the largest, pre-stretched canvases available. I wanted my African portraits to make a big impression. The lady at Michael’s did ask if they would fit in our car and I confidently convinced her that yes, we had a station wagon, no problem. Well, to make a long story short, it did not fit and Kim, another dear ‘mom’ friend came to the rescue as her husband placed the canvases in their truck and drove them home. It takes a village.
I guess I now have to give each series a name. Keeping with tradition of labeling paintings as Untitled I or Abstract I, I will call the Maasai Warrior Getting Ready for his Wedding: African Portrait I and the two boys sailing their dugout canoe: Boat I.
I would like to officially introduce four new members to our “Artful Animals” family: Bella, Bandit, Humayan and Kona.
"SH&T always rises to the top." This is the second year my art has been rejected at a local, juried art show. My initial reaction was one of disappointment. You'd think they would make an effort to support local artists? I know they try; my work just has a lot more growing up to do.
An experience like that does make you deeply empathize with Vincent van Gogh. I can't imagine how this man dedicated his entire life to art, without ever selling a single painting (except for one). To constantly put yourself out there, only to have your ego crushed over and over again.
My family told me not to cut off my ear. It would do me no good. They also kindly reminded me that "CREAM always rises to the top."
Do you like math and sciences? I was raised to believe that math and sciences were the answer to life; however, chemistry 11 and physics 12 didn’t feel very applicable to my daily existence. Why the disconnect?
Research shows that stories and anecdotes build interest in S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math), allowing students to view the scientific and technological materials as relevant and meaningful. With that in mind, our team of artists, teachers, programmers and engineers developed an app: Arya’s Adventures, to promote S.T.E.A.M. education through storytelling.
Arya runs into trouble on a journey to visit Grandparents. After a plane crash, Arya strands on a deserted island and must overcome challenging situations, unique problems that require creative solutions, to find a way out of the jungle. Will Arya make it to the other side and be rescued off the island?
Arya’s Adventures is now available for FREE worldwide on the Apple AppStore, with In-App purchases: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/aryas-adventures/id1065404636?mt=8
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
– Benjamin Franklin.
Artists go through phases and I must be going through a "dog" phase. I know Picasso went through different phases: blue and rose periods, cubism, surrealism, and expressionism to name a few, each lasting anywhere from 1 to 30 years. Other artists, like Pollock with his dripped paintings and Dali with his melting landscapes, stopped pursuing artistic exploration and experimentation, preferring to stick with what worked.
I'm still in the exploration phase of my art journey, trying out different techniques and themes to find a signature style. I've used different mediums: acrylics and oils; experimented with different paraphernalia: brushes, kitchen utensils (spatulas, knives, even a crab pick), leather tools, and fingers to get that perfect line, unique texture or model curve. I’ve painted on different surfaces: fabric, paper, canvases, walls, glass, wood and utility boxes. Maybe like Picasso, I’ll never settle on one style.
Instead of clothes shopping; paint supply, hardware and kitchen stores continue to be my preferred commercial venues to frequent. I feel I'm getting closer but am still trying to figure out to what. Nevertheless, for the time being, I continue to enjoy my 'dog' phase. I love dogs, always have, and this might just be my way to stay connected with man’s best friend. For the time being!
Phase II of Pleasanton's Project Paint Box is complete.
This time, the 'drive by' box, as I came to nickname it, is located on the outskirts of town, where First street and Stanley Boulevard meet. The hummingbird images were inspired from a photograph taken by Douglas Grant, our beloved grandpa, who passed away last fall. It was comforting to think of grandpa while painting the hummingbirds.
Thank you again Joanne and Bob Becker for sponsoring another box and for the steady supply of coffee frappuccinos to keep me cool in the hot, hot sun. Also, thank you Anna, for bringing me pizza for lunch one day.
Here are four fun, nature themed designs, painted on large storage boxes in the children's section of Alviso Adobe's Milking Barn.
Sixteen Sufi dancers later, I feel like I traveled to Turkey and back. I highly encourage you to visit Casbah, Livermore, and request a table in the big room. The surrounding energy will transport you into a different world: smell the warm, slightly sweet cumin blends; savor Middle Eastern fusion dishes; listen to the mythical blends of the setar, harmonium and tabla and watch the whirling dervishes come alive. You will leave, planning your next vacation to Istanbul. "Afiyet olsun," "bon appétit."
Fun, fun, fun! It took a lot longer than anticipated but I ended up meeting some wonderful people who either live near, hang out, or commute from and to the downtown Pleasanton area. Thank you Joanne Rossi Becker for sponsoring 'my' box.
Click below to read local newspaper articles of "Project Paint"
Splash of Color
Artwork on Display on Utility Boxes in Pleasanton.
Pleasanton Painting the Town Red - and other Colors.
How to Make Your Own Art Display Panels
Following the above diagram, on the side of each frame, place A one screw eye 8" from top right and B one screw eye 8" from bottom left. Place two screw eyes, 2" apart, at 7" and 9" from C top left and D bottom right.