Wednesday, December 12, 2007


"Giving presents is a talent; to know what a person wants, to know when and how to get it, to give it lovingly and well." - Pamela Glenconner

IT'S THE SEASON TO BE JOLLY, FA LA LA LA LA LA........ I love to create and paint. Making handcrafted gifts and paintings for those we love can be fun and creative. But only when we've got the time and creative and energy to do it properly. This is not the day to start making gifts, with Christmas just two weeks away. Scary thought if you're the last-minute-type.
WISE TIPS FROM MRS. EARLIE SANTA CLOSE She said.....remember it took nine months to orchestrate the First Christmas, which is exactly what you're going to aim for in the future. Next year, you promise, it will be different. But in order for that to happen, you're going to have to get started on it the last week of December. That's just when you're sooo......sick of Christmas, of course, and holiday novelties at bargain prices. Start planning your handcrafted and creative gifts on January. Enjoy beginning a gift of heart and hands one rainy day in February."
OPEN YOUR EYES, NOT YOUR WALLET I noticed that resourceful and creative people made most of their gifts and start as early as January or summer time when going to the beach is more enticing. You can bring your craft project or painting there, if you want. More inspiring with the ocean view. When you start early, by the end of summer you're half way done and you can relax when Christmas is around the corner, while others are shopping in panic. HO! HO! HO! HO! Don't be a last-minute gift giver. Give with thought and care.
GIFT OF HEART AND HANDS Because I have more creativity than cash, I learned to be very resourceful. I love crafting many of our Christmas gifts. As soon as I finished putting away our truckload of Christmas decorations, I also start planning for next year's gifts. Sometimes, I start painting still life, landscape, cactus, flower or portrait at the beginning of the year, when my motivation is very high. Painting takes time -from prepping of canvas, sketching, painting and then final spraying and framing. I also start scouting and browsing craft boutiques and antique shops for imaginative gift ideas. Where else do you get free ideas? Ideas can snow ball into inspiration. So after summer is over, the cool autumn weather revives me to be creative and crafty with my glue gun and stuffs. For me, a gift of heart and hand is not only more meaningful but also priceless.
BACK TO CHRISTMAS 1997 It was the most creative and artistic Christmas for me. Eleven months prior to that Christmas, I had a cochlear implant surgery at the UCLA Medical Center in Westwood, California. I am an adult hearing person. But during the mid-part 0f the 80's and on to the 90's, I experienced a decade of very devastating, progressive and profound bilateral hearing loss. I could no longer hear and understand the TV, phone, movies, and most people sounded mumbling or eating their words. It was scary .......the world of silence. This was the most challenging experience I had in life. But thank God, I live in the advance world of technology where it's still possible for a deafened artist like me to go back to the world of sound. I had a successful cochlear implant. What is a cochlear implant? It's a miniaturized computer device that helps hearing impaired people to hear the environmental sounds and understand the spoken words. Cochlear implant is not like magic. I didn't get my hearing back overnight. What followed were months of difficult rehabilitation process. I spent hours learning to hear again with my new computerized hearing device. I practiced daily -listening to my tape recorder while following along a kid's book. I listened to the TV and matched the captions with the spoken words. I practiced listening to the phone. I learned how to lip-read. I got involved in a cochlear implant support group. I diligently learned how to use the computer so I can communicate and e-mail my family & friends, while waiting for years to hear on the phone again. Technically, I am still deaf without my cochlear implant device on. Fortunately during these challenging times, I never loss my artistic desire and passion. I continued to paint. Art became an effective therapy when I didn't feel like going on with my difficult life. With prayer, patience, practice and perseverance my hearing improved and I started a new life. As I said before, God (who knows everything) redesigned my new pathway at mid-life. It's been 10 years since I had my cochlear implant. It was like a "Renaissance" period dawned on me. I did many of my best paintings during this difficult period of my life.
"TAOS POTTERY"(18" x 24" - Oil Painting On Canvas) Next to Philippine settings, I love painting Southwest themes and scenes. I like the simplicity of Southwest art. I think the "Taos Pottery" is the best Southwest oil painting I have ever painted so far. In deep appreciation for my successful cochlear implant, I lovingly gave this beautiful oil painting as Christmas gift to Dr. Jim. What should I give a doctor who has everything? I have no doubt that a gift of art from my heart and hands would fit.
One day, Dr. Jim told my husband while visiting him....."Tell your wife, thank you for the oil painting. It's so......BEAUTIFUL!!! I displayed it in our family room." I will never forget those nice and kind words. I was so happy and thrilled that he didn't hang my painting in the garage. I am truly honored that this painting is on display in his luxurious family room. I knew that the prettier the painting, the more enjoyable the visual experience.
Over the years, I never regretted giving him lots of my oil paintings. He is the most compassionate ear surgeon I have ever known. I have so many doctors, but none as caring and as nice as him. He's very different because he has "heart and soul." Ever heard of a doctor taking the time to answer a patient's e-mail? Yes, he replies to my e-mail. He even reads my blog. Very rare quality among American doctor's today. How could I forget someone like him? INSPIRATION I saw this ad from a local Sta. Fe magazine and it inspired me to paint the painting above entitled "Taos Pottery."
CHRISTMAS THOUGHTS: As Pam said, "giving gifts is also a talent. Never hesitate to put your personal touch, heart and soul on your gifts no matter how modest. As you creatively craft your gifts, it becomes your work of art. Let love flow through your heart and hands - a gift for yourself and for others, which is priceless.

Sunday, December 9, 2007


"I do hope your Christmas has....a little touch of eternity in among the rush and pitter patter and all." - Evelyne Underhill

ONLY FIFTEEN MORE SHOPPING DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS Keep in mind that Christmas will arrive on December 25 whether we're ready for it or not. How are you doing?Anxious? Afraid? In that case, you have to calm down. Be of good cheer. Be not anxious, afraid nor angry, for like the angels I bring you tidings of comfort and joy. Today, realize that you can't do everything. Not at all. Period. Choose to do only what you love best about the holidays remain. Cross out two more "musts" on your to-do-list. Don't be a die-hard fan of Martha Stewart, a perfect American hostess and home entertainer.
I notice when I slow down..... there is more time and energy to walk around the neighborhood and enjoy looking at those beautifully decorated houses sparkling with Christmas lights. When I delight myself in the sounds of bells and joyful music, sipping hot green tea, I am more relax. Reading Christmas story from the Gospel while bashing in the fireplace, gives spiritual lift. Yes, these are some of the things I try to do every Christmas time, bring a little touch of eternity into my life in the midst of a busy holiday season.
GIFT WRAPPING Is one of my favorite things to do during Christmas time. I learned professional gift wrapping while working part-time at the Broadway (a department store) in Northridge. It was a very exciting and creative job. Not boring. Gift wrapping is an artistic outlet. I really take the time and thought about my gifts. I plan my theme and color with coordinating tags. I know many people don't enjoy wrapping gifts, but I do. They make lots of excuses for not wrapping their gifts nicely. For me the wrapping is part of the gift. Even if it's just a simple gift, when it is wrapped with creatively, beauty and pleasure, somehow the gift is magically transformed into a dazzling Cinderella. Beautifully wrapped gifts show how much one really cares, especially when the gift is a huge oil painting. Not easy to wrap but it's fun.
GIFT OF BEAUTY I painted this beautiful desert scene during a dry period in my life. In the 90's I experienced a very difficult bilateral hearing loss and my life was..... as dry as the desert. Will write more about this, on my next post. I saw a lively photo of a desert and I was inspired to paint it. This desert scene has glowing sky with mountains, leisurely pathway, cactus, trees and flowers. A desert doesn't have to be dull. This desert is singing with life and beauty. This oil painting (18" x 24") on canvas is my Christmas gift for an American girl friend named Jeanette. We became more than a good friend. She is married to one of my husband's younger brother. Over the years, we spent lots of time sharing lunch together, shopping, letter witting then e-mailing. She selflessly did many "editing" jobs for me without asking for monetary reward. When she sent me a thank you card, she said....."It must be very hard for you to part with your painting." Yes, it was hard, but the happiness I had as a giver was more than enough. I was so happy to give her a gift of beauty and art. I hope it bought a little touch of eternity to her life.
GIFT OF BEAUTY A paintings is not the only gift of beauty. Ther are others like beautiful photograph you took yourself or bought. As often said..."a photo is worth a thousand words." You may not be a good writer or a poet but a photo can express everything you wanted to say. If you are a good writer, writing a book or a poem are beautiful gifts too. How about a nice water color, print or lithograph or art book? Yes. these are beautiful gifts too. As an artist. I always appreciate a gift of beauty. My youngest son is a computer-graphic artist. When he was an art student, he used to create lots of personal digital arts and gave them to me as Christmas gifts. Today, with good incomes my busy sons give me gift certificates from Aaron Brothers (art store) or Michael's ( art & craft store) so I can pick what I like. My children never gave me an oil painting for Christmas gift. I often wonder... why? As an artist, I appreciate others giving me a painting. Many of the oil paintings I have collected for our home are personal gifts for myself. I thought that if I don't get everything I wanted for Christmas, I can give them to myself. That's what I do.
CHRISTMAS THOUGHTS: This Christmas season, let's not rush and spend all our energy shopping. There is more to Christmas than shopping. Take the time to "smell the fire woods, pine leaves, poinsettias" and read the Gospel or other inspirational Christmas stories. Your Christmas season wil not only be beautiful but you will be blessed with a touch of eternity.

Monday, December 3, 2007


"Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents." - Jo March (Louisa May Alcott)

CHRISTMAS IS ABOUT GIFTS I just finish reading few pages of Sarah Ban Breathnach book entitled "Simple Abundance." I found her thoughts about Christmas gifts very interesting and inspiring. Let me share some of them with you. She wrote....."Jo's right. Remember when she grumbled about not having any money for presents in the famous movie Little Women? Christmas is about gifts. Always has been. But we feel uncomfortable with the emphasis on gimme, gimme, gimme. Buy, buy. buy. Charge, charge, charge."
She also added the role of gifts in the Christmas story. She said, "those gifts were wrapped in miracles, which is probably why we can't find them at the malls, and mail-order catalog."

Here are the gifts that Sarah creatively worded from the account of the first Christmas story:
1. First gift was from God himself-unconditional love by sending his beloved son Jesus to become a baby and born on a manger.
2. Next gift came from Mary, a frightened Jewish teenager. Her Christmas present was selflessness. The complete surrender of ego and will to bring Heaven down to earth.
3 .The gift of her bewildered fiancee Joseph, were trust and faith. He trusted that Mary wasn't pregnant with another man's child, he believed that it was a Divine Plan.
4. The baby Jesus brought forgiveness, second chance, and great salvation.
5. The angel's gift were tidings of comfort and joy, and peace, the reassurance that there was nothing to fear, so rejoice.
6. The shepherd boy's gift was generosity. His favorite lamb for the baby's birthday present.
7. The innkeeper's wife's gifts were compassion and charity: a warm, dry, safe-place for the homeless family to stay, her coverlet to wrap the new mom and little one, a meal for Joseph, the donkey's fresh hay.
8. The Magi (three kings) from the east traveled and on camel's back were treasures -gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Oh, yes! Christmas is all about gifts. Nothing but gifts. Gifts that transform the ordinary into the miraculous. Gifts that nurture the souls of both the giver and the receiver. Now that we've accepted that giving gifts are the center of Christmas, deciding what to give and how to get it comfortably and affordably deserves some thinking. I am glad I didn't rush out the day after Thanksgiving to do holiday shopping with the rest of the world. I got sick with bad and terrible cold and aching throat. Actually this year, I am very healthy and full of energy. With so many travels, surprisingly, I was never sick away from home. Somehow this cold bug loves me so much, and afflicted me for more than a week. It was a blessing in disguise because I was able to rest and reflect on the spiritual side of Christmas. While recovering I was able to think of what gifts are more meaningful to me. Of course, my personal choice are artistic gifts like my paintings and other handcrafted stuffs. I don't give my paintings away to everybody but for few special people and other charities that I care about.
A MIRACLE GIFT Let's go back to Christmas 1997. Back then, I didn't have a blog yet. I have many beautiful Christmas memories and I love to tell this old Christmas story about our first grandson, Simon. Here's the story behind this Christmas Tree. It was a special Christmas Tree that I specially decorated with mini bottles, diaper pins, rattles, tiny gifts in blue and pink (not a typical Christmas color) like red or green. The tree top was a silver basket with a baby sleeping on it. This tree was place in the hospital beside Simon. He was a miracle baby and truly a Christmas gift from God. He was born a preemie on September 2,1997, at 23 6/7 week old (almost 24 weeks). At birth he was only 1.5 lbs. or 680 grams. He was born at Seton Medical Center in Daly City and transferred to CPMC in San Francisco, Ca., six hours later. He stayed in a warm, heavenly place named Hospital Incubator for four months. And also he spent his first Christmas not in a manger but in the cozy hospital tiny white crib (in neo-natal wing) with angelic nurses and compassionate doctors. He came home to his dad and mom the day after Christmas. Since my hubby and I live in So. California we didn't get to visit him in the hospital on Christmas Day. After Christmas we drove to San Francisco for eight hours to see this miracle baby. No camels could take us there faster than eight hours. We could fly but we had to deliver so many gifts from good shepherds like aunties and uncles. And so we drove our car loaded with Christmas gifts for baby Simon. Simon turned 10 years old last September. This Christmas will be his 10th Christmas. WOW!
AFTER-CHRISTMAS (1997) One of my favorite Christmas memories. This photo was taken in San Francisco, California, where my eldest son lived at that time. A little bit of a "manger scene." Our first grandson Simon was wrapped in blue blanket. He just came home from the hospital after fighting for his life for four months inside the incubator. At four months old, he looked like a newborn baby. This was his first Christmas on earth. Oh first Christmas as a grandma. I couldn't believe this. And my husband's first Christmas as a grandpa. On the right side is my eldest son Rodney, the father of Simon. This was his first Christmas as a dad. That Christmas, I gave him this beautiful oil painting of the "Golden Gate Bridge." The Golden Gate Bridge is an awesome engineering wonder to behold. I know Rodney will always think of me every time he sees my painting on their living room.
FROM MOM WITH LOVE Another view of the Golden Gate Bridge. My son Rodney is also very artistic. He is an information technology specialists but also a computer -graphic artists. He loves painting and sculpture. He gives me lots of honest compliments and positive suggestions to improve my art. You can view his latest sculptures on:

GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE IN SAN FRANCISCO This is a lovely page that I cut out from a calendar. My inspiration for the painting above. I copied and painted it meticulously by hand like old masters used to do. It is not what others call "original" but today not many artist can copy the real thing by hand. I tried to paint Golden Gate Bridge as realistically as shown on the photo.

TREASURED GIFT For me a gift of art is one of the most meaningful gifts I can give my family and special people in my life. I am sure it will never be returned or exchanged after Christmas is over. It will be treasured FOREVER. Believe me.

Monday, November 26, 2007


CHRISTMAS SHOPPING I was not among those shoppers who braved the malls and super centers the day after Thanksgiving. Although we spent Thanksgiving Day with my husband's clan in Camarillo, Ca. We wanted another intimate family dinner. So I was busy baking a turkey and preparing all the trimmings. After dinner, I was terribly exhausted and down with allergy, running nose and bad cold. I managed to clean-up and went to bed with an aching throat the whole night. No wonder they called this day "Black Friday" here in America. I spent the rest of the Thanksgiving week-end on bed- napping, reading and catching up movies on DVDs. I was surrounded with so many cold medications but swallowing them didn't make my cold disappear like magic. As I write this post today, I am still recovering from a lingering bad cold.
Well, here we are again moving quickly into the traditional season for giving and receiving. am starting to miss shopping, but I needed to rest and get back the energy to be able to go shopping. Shopping is not easy. Among the many challenges the Christmas season bring is always the challenge of finding the perfect gift for loved ones and friends. Gift cards are always nice, but they lack the personal touch. You know you don't want to get your dad another tie for Christmas, but what else would he like? He's got every tie there is, every mechanical gadget ever invented. Aunt Picky has returned every gift you've ever purchased, what could possible please her? She's got every household appliance, every baking dish and every piece of jewelry her heart desires. Now what? Tired of racking your brain and scratching your head for the best gift to give? If you run out of creative ideas and find yourself shopping in the same old impersonal big box stores, try something different this year. Are you feeling uninspired by the traditional holiday gift choices, such as perfume, cologne, sweaters, robes, tools, purses and the dreaded fruit cake? Then maybe it's time to think outside the box and consider giving a one-of-a-kind gift of original art work that is sure to impress. How about giving your loved ones or friends the gift of art. Paintings are gifts you can't put a price on.You don't have to go to the mall. Just visit the art -for - sale online. I'd like to introduce my latest art-blog mate -Jude Maceren. He's a wonderful artist and you can leisurely view his many original paintings on:

GIFT OF ART Personally, I like to give loved ones and special people in my life a gift of art/painting- not only during Christmas time, but during weddings, birthdays and retirements. For others, of course, I will go to the mall but look for creative stuffs like handmade ornaments or beautifully handcrafted decors. Art is not just original oil paintings on canvas or watercolor. Art encompasses limited edition prints, posters, giclees sculpture, glass, metal, photography, clay and hundreds of other media.

BUSY YEAR-2007 This year, I have been very busy traveling that I spent more time on the road, air, sea and tourist shopping malls. I have a very big art project next year but in reality, I only finished 6 paintings so far. Many paintings are still waiting to be finished.

" WOMAN WITH BASKET OF FLOWERS" This painting is my version of Diego Rivera's painting. It is 18" x 20" in size and painted in oil on canvas. It may not sound like an original painting but it doesn't matter to me. What's important in a painting, is that it touches you, and inspires you. Some people are very particular about originality. I am not. I don't see anything wrong about copying some one's art that I deeply admired. I would say that originality is not the TOP criteria for an outstanding art. It must have a "HEART."
SPECIAL GIFT I gave this colorful and lovely painting to my cousin Cely. She retired 2 years ago but I only finished this painting last April. I promised her this painting and I am happy that it is now hanging on her beautiful home in Maryland. After our trip to Florida two weeks ago, she e-mailed me the bad news that she is diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a sad news. I had no idea she will be hit by this devastating cancer. In 1999, she had a thyroid cancer and survived it. Thank God, we were able to spend lots of time together during our 12-day cruise to the Mediterranean last October. We talked, laughed, ate and toured together. I hope this painting and the colorful flowers will cheer her up and wishing her a speedy recovery during the coming surgery and radiation. Wishing her lots of serenity in such a difficult time.

"FLOWER SELLER" This is one of my favorite painting by the famous Mexican artist named Diego Rivera. This colorful painting inspired me to paint a woman with flowers that I posted above.

THE ART OF GIVING If you can't give material things this year, that's okay. You don't have to buy. If you are like many of the creative people I know, you are good at making handcrafted gifts, or baking cookies and cakes, and giving your time, talent and help is also much appreciated. Honestly, I always appreciated things made by hands and with a generous heart.

Friday, October 12, 2007


"Ah ! There's nothing like staying home for real comfort."- Jane Austen

"AMERICA - THE BEAUTIFUL" As always, no matter how far I wandered, "there's no place like home " after a long vacation. Here's a poem that expresses my thoughts exactly. I am not a poet and I don't write poems but love to read them. The poet Olive Ridenour was obviously describing me when she wrote this beautiful poem:
The best part of vacation
Though far and wide we roam,
Is when it's time to travel back
The trail that leads to home.
Strange roads and ways are thrilling
And mighty fine to see,
But when vacation's over
At home we long to be.
It's fine to see the wonders
And beauties of the land-
The mighty snow-capped mountains,
The rolling sea, the sand,
The city's man-made glory;
But when tired we have grown,
We turn our faces toward
The path that leads to home.
It's fine to see the north land,
The mountains of the west,
The great southern plantations,
But, somehow, I love best
Of all the towns and cities,
Though far wide we roam,
That little rambling village
At trail's end we call...home!

AUTUMN IN AMERICA Yes, it's good to be back home. The best part is enjoying the cooler weather. The myriad colors of autumn leaves are just refreshing to the eyes. Of all the four seasons, I love autumn. It's very colorful and cheerful. I love the summer withered leaves dancing and swirling. Every time autumn comes around, I can't help but missed a favorite painting of mine. I had posted my "Autumn In The Southwest" painting in my past blog but I'd like to bring it back for those who haven't seen it. I no longer have this beautiful oil painting in my home studio because I donated it to a a beloved organization formerly known as Cochlear Implant Club International. Although someone is enjoying this painting in her home, I will never forget it.
"AUTUMN IN THE SOUTHWEST" (16" x 24") Oil On Canvas
ARTIST NOTE: This painting was inspired by a trip to Sta. Fe and Taos, New Mexico in 1996. Although that trip was made during the summer time, this painting was how I imagined the autumn leaves would be in the Southwest.

Sunday, October 7, 2007


"Each time you experience the new, you become receptive to inspiration. Each time you try something different, you let the Universe know you are listening. Trust your instincts. Believe your yearnings are blessings. Respect your creative urges. If you are willing to step out in faith and take a leap in the dark, you will discover that your choices are as authentic as you are. What is more, you will discover that your life is all it was meant to be; a joyous sonnet of thanksgiving."- Sarah Ban Breathnach

HOME SWEET HOME I am happy to be back home although I am still recovering from jet-lagged. Had a wonderful and life-changing cruise and trip from the Mediterranean. I came home with many artistic and beautiful spiritual memories. I will be sharing them to you in my future blog.
CARNIVAL FREEDOM This is the fantastic and gigantic cruise ship that we sailed on during our 12-day Mediterranean cruise to Italy, Greece and Turkey. This impressive ship was designed and decorated by a well known artist named Joe Farsi. The theme of this five-months old brand new cruise ship is "blending the old and the new." I will be telling you more about this great ship later on.
ONE OF MY BEST BIRTHDAY GIFTS This photo was taken as we got down the ships gangway for our tour of Athens. Special thanks to my wonderful and loving husband who gave me one of the best birthday gifts ever (a cruise to the Mediterranean). I am very grateful and happy to celebrate another birthday during this cruise. On this special day I was in Athens, Greece. During our tour, there were 3 of us (mostly women) who celebrated our birthdays on Sept. 29th. We all wore red hats. What a coincidence! This was a birthday to remember as long as I live.
ARTISTIC ACROPOLIS (ATHENS) This is an aerial view of the Acropolis with the Parthenon and Mt. Lycavitos in the background. I celebrated my birthday with a tour to the famous Acropolis, with a breathtaking view of antiquity as I looked upwards towards the marvelous structure of the Parthenon. Together with our Greek guide, tour group and my husband we climbed up the pathway and steps through the massive Propylaia onto the rock of the Acropolis. We relived the "glory that was Greece" as we walked over this masterpiece and view the Parthenon, the delicate temple of the Wingless Victory, the Erectheion and the entire city of Athens below. What a wonderful way to celebrate a birthday that was connected to antiquity! I felt so young compared to the ages of the ruins, many built even before Christ. I was so energized that the climb up to the Parthenon was like a "walk in the park." No kidding! Before this tour, I dreaded the climb since I heard lots of exaggerated comments about how hard the climb. I made it to the top and was proud of it.
THE PARTHENON May be considered the most perfect and most significant ruin in the world. Situated on the highest platform of the Acropolis, the Parthenon rose so high above. The Greeks are famous for its architectural columns, known as "Doric, Ionic and Corinthian." The Parthenon is a great beauty due to its simplicity. Its columns are the simplest kind, using Doric style. I wonder why the builders didn't use the Corinthian columns which are more elaborate. It's always true that "simplicity is beauty" as shown in the enduring beauty of the Parthenon.
AT THE END OF THE JOURNEY As always, in the best old fairy tales, at the end of every adventure and journey....... "and Ebb Tide and her Prince live happily ever after."

Monday, September 10, 2007


"With color, for the price of a pot of paint, people can express their own style and individuality. But, as with style, a gift for color has to be developed by experiment. If you don't dare, you are doomed to dullness. " - Shirley Conran

BE ALIVE WITH COLOR Too many of us are afraid of experimenting with color. You live and wear the same color day after day and consequently you are bored. And the consequence of being bored is that you are usually "boring." It takes guts to break old ways and routines. Shirley said, if you don't dare you are doomed to dullness. Boredom kills. Today, start thinking about the colors you love. Look for more ways to come alive with color. Take a creative trip this week to a paint store and look at the color spectrum. What are the colors that speak to your soul? Pick up chips. Next, go to a local art gallery in you community and indulge on a painting that catches your eye. You don't have to buy. If a print is affordable, go for it. When next at an art museum, collect colorful art postcards to send to friends. Or you can wander with me on this colorful island tour of St. Thomas. Allow yourself to be carried away by colorful impulses.
WELCOME TO THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS! An American paradise in the heart of the Caribbean: the U.S. Virgin Islands, a United States territory, has much to offer. Composed of three main islands (St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John) with three unique personalities. The USVI have long been a favorite of travelers. St. Thomas is one of the busiest ports in the Caribbean. By far the most visited of the three islands, St. Thomas has long been the favorite of honeymooners and cruise passengers.
WAKING UP In St. Thomas is like seeing an American impressionist paintings by Mary Cassatt. Who is Mary? She was an American painter who spent much of her career in France. She was a member of the French impressionist movement. Like her French impressionist friends, Mary used light, bright colors and sketch brushstrokes to create the effect of what the eyes see at a glance. Mary became famous for her paintings of mother's loving moments shared with their young children in everyday situation. She also painted serene scenes of mother and daughter riding in a boat. There is something in those boat scenes that truly touched my heart.
SAINT THOMAS......What a handsome name for a male saint! Who is a saint? A person who is exceptionally holy, meek, charitable, patient. etc. These are good definitions but here's my own creative descriptions of a Saint named........... Thomas:
N...........................NOT ORDINARY
T............................TANTALIZING, TRANQUIL

O...........................OLD, OPULENT
SPECTACULAR SCENE OF ST. THOMAS This scene is like walking out of a spectacular Mary Cassatt painting. Mary loved to paint colorful boat scenes similar to this one. During a cruise, every morning of your life is new. Every port is new. Every island is new. Every face is new. Everything in the world is new. Let's learn to see each new day with the colorful eyes of Mary. There's something with Mary's creative eyes that's worth peeking at.
ALIVE Nothing will make you alive than gliding on an exciting sky ride to Paradise Point. Board the Sky ride for the 15-minute round trip ride, 700 feet above sea level.
INTRIGUING PARADISE POINT Passengers are taken up a 700-foot peek. Who said... "It's lonely at the top?" Not here. There is plenty of time and creative ways to browse the colorful shops and enjoy a complimentary frozen drinks.
NOT ORDINARY SIGHT BUT EXTRAORDINARY At every side you look, the different views are extraordinarily inspiring. For an extraordinarily stunning views of Charlotte Amalie harbor, try the Paradise Point sky way.
TANTALIZING VIEWS Of Magens Bay, rated by national geographic as one of the top 10 most beautiful beaches in the world. The Crown Princess dock on the port below.
TRANQUIL SETTING Views from the World Famous "Mountain Top." Enjoy tantalizing views from the highest point of St. Thomas (1547) feet. This mountain top offers serene and spectacular views of nearby St. John, and neighboring islands, the harbor of Charlotte Amalie nestled below, and cruise ships. This is a teachable moment: "Creativity does not happen in a tense environment. Tranquility is the mental climate in which creativity happens and tension blocks the flow of creative ideas."- Robert Shuller
TALL AND TOWERING PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN What makes the blood rush to your heart? For me, its seeing the color red. But also looking at my ideal man - tall, dark and handsome pirate. But wait a minute, this guy has missing hand and foot. Yo Ho Ho.....he is not the ideal guy after all.
HANDSOME PIRATES? HANDSOMER THAN JOHNNY DEPP. NO WAY! The guy on the left could make my heart skips but the guy on the right makes my knees....shaky. I am seeing black blood.....let's run......
OLD AND OPULENT CHARLOTTE AMALIE You can walk for hours browsing and shopping on Charlotte Amalie narrow alleyways and streets. Endless shops and boutiques full of colorful gems, creative arts and crafts.
MAGNIFICENT SCENE OF CHARLOTTE AMALIE. Someone said....If you don't like the scene you're in, if you don't feel that things are happening, change your scene. Paint a new backdrop."
AMAZING COLOR Bold cobalt blue plus hot pink colors have the power to amaze. Amazed and dazzled at all the multi-stuffs for sale, it was very hard not to open one's wallet. Oh, the power of color!
SENSATIONAL FAREWELL SHOW From the kitchen crew of the Crown Princess. All dressed up in a patriotic American color- red, white and blue. An emotional moment but fun-filled evening of fine dining on board.
SENSATIONAL FAREWELL DESSERT ( BAKED-ALASKA) Our head waiter, slicing this giant dessert. It's hard to say "Good-bye" to the Crown Princess after all the wonderful times we had on this cruise ship. So long!
1. Slice side ways...... Break your routine. If you're always the straight person, try becoming a curvy one sometimes.
2. Straight cut............ Focus on one goal at a time. Too many goals are distracting.
3.Diagonal cut ...........Avoid perfection. Nobody is perfect.
4.Anyway you slice it......Think outside the box. That's the creative and colorful way!

Thursday, September 6, 2007


"An artist is a dreamer consenting to dream of the actual world." - Santayana

WELCOME BACK TO THE CARIBBEAN! WELCOME TO ANTIGUA! A real world! A real paradise! Antigua is another attractive island, colonized by the British. It is steeped in the graciousness of British tradition. When cruising Antigua, it is like wandering out from an antractive painting. You will see many English descendants who are"mestizas" (mixed women) and "mestizos" (mixed men). They are not milky-white but have beautifully browned or light-ebony complexion. Very colorful people, living in artistically vibrant landscape. The landscape is made up of rolling yellow and green hills and the sweeping curves of bays and inlets. Although Antigua is a former colony of Britain, our "guest artist" for this island tour is a famous French impressionist artist.
PIERRE AUGUSTE RENOIR He was one of the French impressionist artists. He was known for his paintings of women, young girls and children and intimate portraits of French middle-class life. He became famous for his luminous colors and cheerful scenes of everyday life. In such work as the above painting, " Luncheon of the Boating Party" he portrayed a cheerful group of people at an informal moment. I actually saw the amazing original painting at the Phillip's Museum in Washington D.C. (U.S.A.). I love this painting because it's a lively scene on a boat. At this trip, this scene could be replayed on a cruise ship, where we had many cheerful luncheon and dinner. "Bon Appetit!"
A...........................APPEALING, ABSORBING
N...........................NOTICEABLE, NOVELTY
T...........................TERRIFIC, TERRIBLE
G...........................GORGEOUS, GEM
A...........................ADVENTURESOME, ARTFUL
APPEALING AND ABSORBING. Not boring! Take time to smell the sea. Where do you go to relax? Usually I go to the sea. I love soaking in all the colors and find the combination of the elements to be very relaxing -the sea, sand, salt, sky and sea breeze. Spending time in the ocean - swimming, wading or just simply floating and letting the waves gently rock me is blissful. I also love having my feet in the sand and walking along the white-sand beach. The sea restores my creative spirit.
NOTICEABLE The island of Antigua is worth noticing despite of its small size. It's not as grand as this spectacular 113,000 tons "Crown Princess" cruise ship. Sometimes the best gifts come in small packages, so are the many nice island sights. The simplest sights will make your hearts dance with Caribbean beat.
NOVELTY Means-something unusual. What's unusual about the island of Antigua? It's alluring! Why does it have more allure than other islands? Are you curious to know why? Antigua has been known for its 365 beaches - as legend has it, one for every day of the year. Since we were here for only a day, we visited just one beach. But visiting Antigua is so much more. It's allure lies in its simplicity.
TERRIFIC TOUR! We boarded the customized 4WD Land Rover, and started in a caravan for the island's remote south-west interior. Ready for a rough ride around the island? Everything is blown away here with open car windows. Too windy. Hats will fly away. A scarf is safer. What really took our breaths away? The stunning beauty and lushness of the rolling landscape and island from Martin's Hill.
TERRIBLE RIDE! Today, we're obsessed with speed. We want the quick fix, the short cut, on-the-spot solutions. Don't get in a hurry! Growth is sometimes a tedious work. Why does it takes so long? Someone said, "When God wants to make a mushroom, He does it overnight. But when He wants to make a giant oak tree, He takes a hundred years." So take your time and look at the big tree on this photo. Notice the color? In this island itself it had more shades of green than you could ever find in a box of crayons.
INTERESTING BEACH BOUTIQUE Hey, this is Caribbean style! I'm inspired by so many things ......the way a piece of colorful scarves looks on a hanging rope, the way a huge conch shells are displayed on a a white-sand beach. I bought a huge conch shell for only $5.00. What a bargain for shell collector like me! INTERESTING What excites us or moves us to tears? For me, a row of colorful Caribbean scarves and cover-alls. Such creation reflected the Caribbean artistic minds and spirits.
GORGEOUS CROWN PRINCESS WITH CARIBBEAN BLUE SKY Emerson called the sky- "The daily bread bread of the soul." We should not be too focused on the future to enjoy the present. " GEM-LIKE CROWN PRINCESS AND THE CARIBBEAN BLUE SKY Several times when I was feeling down by the daily frustrations of many life problems, the climb up this gorgeous cruise ship and the ocean view restored my creative spirit.
UNUSUAL BEACH SHOP IN PARADISE The beach! Where is the beach? Turner's Beach, is one of the 365 beaches we visited in Antigua. What a simple but soothing sight! Colorful umbrella, huge conch shells and irresistible fresh green coconuts. I bought one fresh coconut for $3.50. Pricey???? Hey, this is the Southern Caribbean. This is not a cheap place. When will I have another chance to drink fresh coconut juice and eat the white coconut meat in on the beach? I might not be be able to come back here. I think it's worth the splurge. No regret.
ADVENTURESOME Venturing into an Australian ice cream parlor is worth peeking. Found this cottage- ice cream parlor near the port. It's a unique experience to taste Australian home-made ice-cream in the Caribbean. Again, it's a pricey indulgence, but the ice-cream is worth trying.
ARTFUL BOUTIQUES AND SHOPS IN THE PORT. There are many colorful and artistically crafted souvenirs. Lots of good buys. I bought wooden hand crafted book marks carved with bird design, shell-stringed bracelets, hand made cell phone cases, etc. Handcrafted objects take time to make. So those are the stuffs that captivated me to buy. As an artist, I know how much time crafters and artisans had lavished on their creations.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Chef's are artist too in different way. They cook with their hearts and hands and present their food in artistic way. One day, someone asked a famous Caribbean chef, "What is the secret to a good paella?" The chef said, 'To develop flavor, "Real Slow." There's no rush." How true! In real life he have to learn the art of taking the time to slow down.
That's the secret to adding creative flavor to your ordinary life.

Saturday, August 25, 2007


"When making a choice one prefers sunny and colorful effects, and there is nothing that prevents me from thinking that in the future many painters will go and work in tropical countries." - Vincent Van Gogh

WOW! Couldn't believe Van Gogh was already thinking of me during that time. He prophesied about artists going to tropical countries. Like Van Gogh, I think, there is no better place to be inspired than in tropical settings. The palette is distinctly colorful - sky blue, orange, pink, vermilion, bright yellow, bright green, bright wine-red and violet. Impressionist palette is made up of pure colors. This palette actually had a powerful, potential for expression.

VINCENT VAN GOGH was one of the most famous impressionist artists. Yet during his lifetime, he received no recognition and sold only one painting. Van Gogh was born in Holland but lived most of his life in France. He was a Dutch and French monsieur at the same time. He had a case of split personality like the island of St. Maarten. He moved to Paris and was immediately attracted to the impressionist art he saw there. Under the influence of Impressionism, Van Gogh lightened his brushstrokes and used bright, clear colors. Later he went to Arles in Southern France. There he painted his most expressive and original paintings.
FAVORITE ARTIST Van Gogh is one of my favorite Impressionist artists. I was reading an art book on Van Gogh and I found this little info about one of my favorite paintings of his, entitled "Seascape" (1888). While still in Holland he wrote: "Sand-sea-sky - I would like so much to express these at some point in my life. At Les-Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, he had the opportunity to do so. He spent only four days at the seaside town, but was sufficiently enamored to make nine drawings and three paintings of it on his return. Of the paintings, two were seascapes and this is the better of the two. In fact Van Gogh was so pleased with it that he produced three copies. At the time of the original, Van Gogh was aspiring to a more assured way of working the broader strokes, called for in painting the sea, freed him from previous precision. The foreground waves, which have curious grass-like quality, are painted in a particularly thick impasto that makes them appear to splash off the canvass. Van Gogh being a Dutch and a French artist is the most interesting "imaginary tour guide" to help us see why St. Maarten is so spectacular.

WELCOME TO SAINT MAARTEN This small saintly island is divided between Holland and France. It's like two destinations in one - the Dutch half of the island and the French side. If you're on the Dutch side, this island is called St. Maarten. If on the French side, it is called St. Martin. No formal boundary exists between the Dutch and French sides of the island, a simple welcome sign tells you when you cross from one country to the other. But the differences are as noticeable as the spelling of the island's name. It's this split personality that lends much to the island's charms.
S..............................................SPECTACULAR, SENSATIONAL A.............................................ARTISTIC

N.............................................NOT-BORING SPECTACULAR as a saint named Saint Maarten. It is also as spectacular as the new cruise ship "Crown Princess" (on the left side). True to its name, Crown Princess is a spectacular floating palace. It is 952 feet in length and 113,000 gross tons. Accomodates 3,080 passengers. Its so huge and could be a floating museum and display all masterpieces in museums around the world. Crown princess is sensational from the moment you walk into the piazza. This unique atrium captures the spirit of a European plaza with myriad places to dine, relax and people-watch. It is the same sensational feeling I have, when ever I see an original Van Gogh paintings inside the museum.
ARTISTIC AND COLORFUL WELCOME PORT The magenta, blue and yellow colors of the St. Maarten letters are eye-popping. Although this island is balmy and breezy, the colors will wake you up. The colors will leap out at you.
INSPIRING SEASCAPE I think the Caribbean seascape is as inspiring as the Mediterranean seascape that inspired Van Gogh. Soothing blue colors that are beautiful to the eyes and restful to the soul.
NEVER-ENDING SHOPPING ADVENTURE At the duty-free shops in port. A great place to find and buy colorful and big Caribbean gems and handcrafted items. But beware! These things are pricey. I'd rather invest our hard earn dollar on an original painting by Van Gogh. But this is an impossible dream. Maybe, I'll be happy to own a copy.
TYPICAL DUTCH LANDMARK Bold red Dutch buildings and windmills dotted the colorful landscape of St. Maarten. Red color arouse passion. Before shopping, by-pass this Dutch landscape. You'll not be tempted to splurge.
THERAPEUTIC Browsing through this colorful art galleries is very therapeutic. Just looking at every wall drenched in different color, inspired by vibrant and pulsating hues that evoke Van Gogh's colors, will make you feel better without splurging."MAGNIFIQUE" -As the French says. Here's a magnificent view of St. Maarten before crossing the border to the French side. Van Gogh painted the Mediterranean seascape but not the Caribbean seascape. Still his thoughts about painting a seascape could apply here. He said that the Mediterranean proved more colorful than he had expected it to be and strengthened his belief that......"color must be exaggerated even more."MAGNIFIQUE! C'est Magnifique! This magnificent view is like a handsome painting by Van Gogh. In a letter describing the scene to Theo (his brother) he outlined his further surprise that - "the deep blue sky was flecked with clouds of a blue deeper than the fundamental blue of intense cobalt, and others of a clearer blue, like the blue whiteness of the milky way." After this we shouldn't look at the blue sea and sky the same again. Let's look at them through the eyes of this great impressionist artist.
ADMIRABLE HANDCRAFTED COLORFUL CARIBBEAN SCARVES These dreamy scarves speak of colors in paradise. Let's take have a short painting lesson here. Have your paint brush, colors, and you paint paradise, then in you go. Do it! Take orange and magenta and blue and purple....and green, and yellow.....and paint your paradise. Put lots of texture and it will look like a Van Gogh painting. Yes, you can do it.
ALIVE With colorful tropical wind chimes and native jewelries. Traveling is also one of the fun ways to pick up design ideas. Every place in the world has its own different flavor and style. Incorporating design idea and the items you collected from your travels both inspires and refreshed. Ideas are one thing you can take home FREE. When Picasso ( a famous modern artist) said, "A good artist borrows, a great artist steals,"......... he was speaking of ideas.
ROMANTIC What is more romantic than celebrating Valentine's Day (2007) with a Princess?Think RED! Think love, courage and passion. Red will make your day alive with additional solid brushstrokes of romance plus joy to your heart. Endless radiant breakfast, ravishing lunch and romantic dinner with champagne and cake were as colorful as Van Gogh's paintings. Perfect partners for an unforgettable day.
TANTALIZING Teasingly beautiful blue sky, aquamarine sea, and inviting hammock. Why is beauty so important? Because we get energy and motivation from beautiful sight. Beauty is food for the soul and balm to the spirit.
EXCITING ARCHITECTURE DESIGN To please the eyes, stand beside this French designed rotunda and whistle. Then wait for the exciting joy to follow. NOT-BORING This is Marigot Bay on the French side of the island. It is very interesting sight. It looks like you're back in the French Quarter in France or New Orleans, U.S.A. Very exciting place to linger with the ocean nearby. This place will stir your every emotion and steal your heart away.

PARTING THOUGHT: I have read many books written on the life of Vincent Van Gogh. His life was very sad indeed. His happy masterpieces and vibrant colors were a sharp contrast to his unhappy life. He imagined a happy life but he was too frustrated with waves of problems and ended his life. On the lighter side, his artistic life is not in vain. Every time, I look at his paintings, I feel happy and inspired. Artists should continue to create art, no matter how difficult one's circumstances are. God gave us this creative gifts to inspire and make others happy. To those who are gifted with other creative talents, you can also be an inspiration in different ways.