Monday, November 7, 2011

Touch down!

Arrived in Chicago yesterday, it was a 14 hour flight. That translates into 4 movies and 6 tv shows. We were exhausted and fighting colds. We tried to stay up until 7 pm, but I caved in and crawled into bed at 5:30 pm. We were awake for a couple hours this morning, then back to bed. This probably is not the best way to adjust to the time zone change, but very good for healing colds.

This ends the China trip. However, for Howard and I, our adventure has 9 more days as we head to New Jersey for our two person show at Highlands Art Gallery in Bernardsville, New Jersey. The reception is Saturday from 5 to 9 pm. Hope you can come.

China was an amazing mix of ancient and modern lifestyles. We are already planning to return one day. already we are getting e-mails from those wonderful college kids that took such good care of us!

I might send some more photos on the blog once in awhile. It is hard not to share all this with you!

Thank you for reading along as we traversed China!

Still flying...

 and passing the Alusian islands of Alaska. Looking at the map at the front of the cabin of the plane, it is obvious that this was a solid land mass from Russia to Alaska, linking Asia to North America. Historians and scientists believe that the Americas were populated from Asia using this natural land bridge. As a portrait artist, I love studying faces, and I could definitely see a genetic connection between the Chinese and Native Americans. I, too, have some Cherokee in my background and I could see a connection with my self as well! High cheek bones, small eyes, very straight hair.... Fascinating!

Anyway, while we are cruising along, I will send you some more photos.

Remember when I wrote about Halloween and our interpreters....
Here is the photo of the college kids that dressed up for Halloween and went trick or treating at our hotel rooms. They had heard about Halloween and the candy and so we invited them to dress up and go trick or treating from room to room. It was really fun with lots and lots of giggles and laughter!


Sunday, November 6, 2011

And we're off! Up in the air.

Meeting us at the hotel was Tu's nephew. He had arranged the bus for the ride to the airport. Thank you TU!

And our group started shrinking. Our Canadians, Neil and Vera Patterson are taking an evening flight to Vancouver, Canada. Nancy and Gar Crookston are flying to San Francisco around one pm. Howard and i are in the first group of 7 that is flying to Chicago.

All that hauling yesterday of our luggage took it 's toll on us. Clayton was hit the worst. He either has pulled a muscle on his ribs, cracked a rib or .... Is having trouble with his lungs. He is such a trooper. You can see the pain written all over his face each time that he gets a muscle spasm. He is really looking forward to seeing a doctor when he gets home. I have a pinched nerve in my neck ( oh brother, what next ). Keeping cold wraps on it seems to be helping. I know what you are thinking.... Yes, it was really worth it!

Interesting note: we left Hong Kong at 11:45 am on Saturday, November 5th and we will in essence be in a time machine, as we fly backwards through the time zones, arriving at about 12:30 in the afternoon, on the same day, Saturday, November 5th. Though we will be in the air traveling for more than 14 hours, the time will be less than an hour after we left Hong Kong. We live in an amazing time!

So, while we are floating around to the other side of the world, I thought I would send you some more photos about the trip.

These are from October 23rd, the day that we visited the construction site of Zhiwei Tu's museum.

We want to come back when it is open!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Change of plans...

Guess what... Pizza Hut was the choice tonight! Yum!!!

More shopping tonight after our pizza and pasta and more shuffling of our suitcases. Good thing that we brought a traveler's scale for suitcases! I think we are under the weight limit!

Hong Kong

Okay, we are now at the Imperial Hotel in Hong Kong, but what an adventure some of us had getting to the hotel.

Howard and I made it here with no hick-ups, but several others had a bit of a tough time with the taxi drivers. Ken Dewaard and Ken Cadwallader were first in line and glided easily to a taxi, at least they thought it was a legal taxi, until the police came up and started yelling at the driver. Out jumped the two Kens and back to the back of the line to wait for another. Another of our group were shuttled around to three different taxi's, schlepping their stuff and waiting in longs lines. Finally we all arrived, sweaty, tired and hungry. Nothing like a wet hot towel to refresh a wear traveler!

Hmmm, for a change, we are thinking about Japanese food tonight's dinner? With our terrific skill with the Chop sticks now, this should be a piece of cake ( now that sounds good too)!

Making our way home

Now the wind down, but first some serious final shopping. By now we had scoped out the possibilities and narrowed down to our goals. First we had a terrific breakfast with several of the university professors, Middle TU and Tu's nephew. It had everything that we have come to love about Chinese food.

Then back out on the streets, making bee lines to our destinations. We didn't have a lot of time, but most of us knew that we had to get art books at the book store! and boy did we ever get great books and art supplies!...great big heavy art books, ooops.

Back at our rooms, the big challenge was to get all of this into our suitcases and still keep them under 50 pounds. The night before I had to buy a new suitcase because my suitcase had a broken latch, now came the test and YES! It all fit and only a little bit over 50 pounds... To be fixed in Hong Kong before we fly.

We stuffed our suitcases into three vans and our bodies and off we went to the train station.
Next came the travelers aerobics.... Or as I kept telling myself ... The character building challenge of the day, as we dragged, pulled, pushed and carried our luggage across the station and somehow onto the train. This was the last time that we would have the guidance of Tu and we said our good byes. He created a magical tour for us that we will never forget!!!! It was a ton of work for him to co-ordinate this complicated trip. As we waved good bye I could almost detect a sigh of relief on his face. He will stay here in China with his family in his home town. Once we were in the train station, past customs and schlepped our many heavy suitcases either and yon... and all of us made the train, it was a beautiful ride in the sunny country side.

Next stop, Hong Kong.

Day Twelve

Breakfast was a bit earlier today, at 7 am, because we were going to tour the Guangzhou Fine Art Academy! This is one of the Finest national academies in China. At the request of the central governemnt in 1953 this school was founded by Tu's Father in Law, Hu Yichuan (1910 - 2000). The school first opened in Wuhancity, then was moved to Guangzhou in 1958.

Hu Yichuan was an outstanding artist skilled in any medium. Prior to 1949, he was first famous for his woodcuts. To our delight, we actually were able to tour his home and studio, filled with paintings, sketches, woodcuts and sculptures. This is the place where our friend and fellow artist, TU, as a young man and his wife Dani shared many meals with her mom and dad (Hu Yichuan ). We lerned that Hu Yichuan was a Revolutionist and played a major part in the Mao Revolution ( 1921 to 1937). He is well loved and respected today in China. In 2000, after Hu Yichuan died, the government named the museum in Guangzhou, The Hu Yichuan Museum.

This outstanding university held a special spot in Tu's, heart. Not only was this where his father-in-law taught, but this is where Tu was a student for 6 years and later a professor for 6 years. He, too, - is well loved and respected.

We toured the new campus, the studios and classrooms, met the professors and the students, even had a chance to critique some of the student's work. Several of the professors gave us copies of their books!

We were awed at the classical drawing skills of these young students. We saw painting classes and sculpture classes and a display of a the most outstanding work from their graduates. This is a huge campus. Actually it now has two locations in Guanghzhou. The first and original campus is near to our hotel. That was so successful that a gorgeous new huge campus was built about a half hour away.

To our surprise, before going to dinner, we stopped by Middle Tu's studio. He is an incredible photographer in all areas: fashion, portraits, landscapes, etc. , winning many national and international awards. We have enjoyed his company at many of the places that we have been on this tripl He kept his camera clicking! To our delight, he gave each of us three of his photography books!

The Chinese are such gracious, giving people. Everywhere we were given gifts, from the owner of the tea shop to the photographers that accompanies us and even the interpreters. Our cup over flowth with gratitude.

All that was left at the end of this glorious day, was a couple hours of shopping in the main shopping area. Here it was, 9 pm on a Thursday night and the place was packed with people, all the shops were busy. The lights were sparkling everywhere, it was filled with excitement. The Chinese economy seems to be doing quite well! We all spread out...and none of us got lost!

What an amazing day. Like I said yesterday. This is the grand finalle of an incredible trip.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Day Eleven

Dressed in our finest clothes ( how does one make the same clothes that one has been wearing for 2 and a half weeks look dressy?) we arrived at the Museum exhibition of our final 91 paintings. This was by far the most outstanding exhibition for us. Our paintings were beautifully exhibited, museum style, with terrific lighting and excellent placement on the walls. Hanging side by side, the paintings looked terrific. It is a very strong show and we are all pleased. There were banners and huge displays of our names, bios and faces. First there was a ceremony out in front of the museum. We were formally introduced by the officials of the area and thanked for coming and showing our work. Our exhibition was the kick off of the International Cultural Week for Guangzhou! The show will be hanging for one month.

After the speeches and lots and lots of photos, we entered the exhibition. as each of us entered, we signed a big red display book with a big black pen. This is tradition for important events. Then the public flooded into the exhibition. It instantly became very crowed. People were asking to have their photos taken with us. Each of us were surrounded by school children asking for our autographs and photos, lots of photos. It was an amazing feeling to be so admired and honored.

Lunch with the officials was as delicious as ever and as beautiful. I will miss the huge turntables that gracefully glided the dishes around the table.

Then it was time to put the suitcases on the bus and say good bye to our wonderful interpreters, our dear friends. That was the hardest part of the trip. These young people have shared their love with us and stolen our hearts. There were teary eyes, lots of hugs and notes of appreciation slipped into our hands. They made our trip so special and were missed instantly as we drove away.

On to Guangzhou. It was supposed to be a 3 hour drive, no problem. Instead, we experienced the most intense traffic jam. For miles (and several hours) we were sandwiched between trucks creeping along or stopping. I was very very happy that I wasn't the one driving! We arrived more that 2 hours late and very very tired! Get this, we were so tired that we actually went to McDonalds for supper! Radical difference from the dinners we have become used to, but we were just needing food and fast. Hmmm. Guess that is what they do best!

After that quick supper, we hit the streets to do a little shopping. Most of us just stumbled along the Streets for a while, then went back to the hotel and to bed.

Sorry, no photos this time, can't get to my camera right now, but soon I will send some for you to see!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Day Ten

The last strokes of paint were composed today. We painted our last paintings and tonight we put away our brushes. All that is left is our final exhibition of about 90 paintings that opens tomorrow.

Our painting marathon ended today at the MT. Dabao Mining site. This is one of the largest mines for iron an copper. The government is very proud of this huge mine and is planning to make it into a national park. First we toured the top of the mountain to see the broad expansive vista of the mining operation. This was an hour before it was scheduled to set off several explosions. Sure enough at 10:30 am, after several warning sirens, two explosions rocked the valley. By then, we were safely down at the headquarters painting, but even our feet felt those impacts.

The day was lovely, the air perfect and the sun flirted with us all day. In and out... In and out, it danced with the clouds. We painted, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Lunch was serve yourself and we all questioned how much to put on our plate. For the past 16 days, we have dined from many dishes at each meal. We would take a bite of food from this dish and another spoonful from that dish. It all added up to a delightful and exciting meal. At the end of each meal, we had no idea how much or how little we had eaten. We just had to trust our stomachs and eat until we felt full. The meals were very slow and leisurely and that gave our stomachs time to really decide when to stop. Facing a full plate of food, now, seemed confusing at first, but it didn't take long for us to gobble it down and get back to painting.

In the afternoon, we actually had about 4 hours to paint our last painting in China. It felt good to put some extra time into these plein air creations. Our eager and very helpful assistants/interpreters were there, as always to help us with anything that we need. It is going to be hard to leave these great young people. They have really gotten into our hearts.

Back on the bus, then dinner with the officials of the Mine .... That means many many toasts ....and finally, back to the hotel. As we filed off the bus, our wet paintings appeared one by one, ready to be framed tonight and whisked away to the museum for our last show.

We are a tired lot. Several of us stayed up too late or rose too early to get our paintings ready for delivery this morning. Tonight we are delighted to get to bed early!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Day Nine

Shaoguan University, a day of painting models at the art department building, visiting the school's drawing and painting studios and interacting with the art students. It is Sunday, so there weren't any classes. As our bus pulled up to the school, there was a huge crowd of students eagerly waiting for us to arrive and begin painting. Our models arrived and we let our brushes fly! These young ladies are art students and they sat perfectly for us.

After yesterday, the day of lots of thick paint, I was geared up to jump right into the portraits. It was a little intimidating, however. The room was very big, but shrunk quickly as we set up and the students melted into any free available space so they could watch.
Such eager college students. They stood behind us for hours quietly watching. Whenever the model took a break and we laid down our brushes, the students would step right up with questions. Many were intrigued with the way that Howard and I use a small mirror to look at our painting and the model at the same time, but flipped. That opened up a lot of questions and more photos showing how to use the mirror.

Lunch was at the cafeteria. It is huge, modern and served us
wonderful dishes. This is the same university that our translators go to school. Most of them are seniors majoring in English.

After lunch, a quick tour of the drawing department and the painting department. amazing young artists producing excellent work! The crowning glory was the view on the roof of the huge campus library. From there we could see the entire campus and all the lovely gar dents, fountains and reflecting pools. This university has about 15,000 students. It is a small school by China Standards, but very hard to get into.

Back to our second set of models. After feeling pretty frisky in the morning, I was dragging in the afternoon. It just seemed to take longer to find my "muse". My model had the cutest dimples and decide to hold that pose for the entire time. Clayton and I are sure that her little cheeks will be sore for a few days after modeling for 3 hours.

Our interpreter James was there and we got to meet LaiLai, his girlfriend. All of us are very attached to these bright and happy youngsters and will miss them terribly.

We were private guests of honor at the President and Vice President's request for dinner in a very nice private room.

That gave us a couple hours to walk around downtown and visit little Tu's (a famous artist and former student of Tu's) tea shop. We got to see more paintings of local artists, too. Full day but filled to the brim with wonderful memories!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Redstone National Park of China

Somewhere in National Geographic Magazine, I have seen the magnificent stone elephants marching across a river valley. Today I saw them with my own eyes and camera lens in the Redstone National Park of China in Danxiashan. This fascinating geographic beauty is known throughout the world. As a matter a fact, this afternoon, as I stood painting one of these "elephants", Jock Whitworth introduced himself and gave me his card. Jock, as the  head of Zion National Park, back home in Utah, and is in China on a cultural exchange of geographic national parks world wide. Small world. I told home that the artists painting in the park today are also on a cultural exchange for fine art, specifically, plein air oil painting.

The gorgeous formations, though very unique, in the park are not unlike many of the formations that we see in Utah and Arizona. We painted all day in the park, one in the morning and one in the afternoon and after dinner, we all rushed to our rooms to set up our easels and do some tweaking, most of us anyway.

After painting 16 x 20 Plein air paintings for two weeks, I have a much greater concept of why and how the great Impressionists developed their unique and history altering style. Try painting a 16 x 20 and larger and limiting your self to a maximum of 3 hours. Voila, as the French say... The birth of dots, dashes and dabs of color that capture the light. There literally is no time to even clean your brushes between color. The fastest way to capture what you are seeing is with very fast brushwork. I couldn't help myself this afternoon, my paint was thick and my brushes were flying!

Here are a few photos of us just getting started on our paintings this afternoon. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

The brushes stayed quiet today!


It was a day of Gift Giving and Celebration at the academy on the fourth floor where we painted the models. When we arrived we were whisked into the main assembly room. There on all of the walls was the showing of our paintings. One by one they lined the walls at eye level. The paintings were once again framed beautifully and hung according to each artist. Howard had 8 paintings and I had 5 paintings (cause I had been sick.... But you probably already figured that out.) I was right, there were 91 paintings once again. In the center of the room were chairs lined up facing a huge speaking area. First, all of the artists signed a big book of rice paper with a huge chinese calligraphy brush. For some of the oil painters, this was a foreign tool, but for me, this oversized watercolor brush was lovely in my hand. It felt really good to sign my signature in large expressive letters with that flexible brush.

Next, we were ushered to the front of the room to sit in the honored chairs. Five of our paintings had been chosen as gifts for the government and I am honored to say that one of mine was chosen and is now part of the collection of the Chinese government. There were several speeches, even one by our Neil, all beautifully translated by Tina or Shirley. Next we exchanged gifts. Our five paintings are given to the government in thanks for such an incredible trip. In turn, They gave us a beautifully hand calligraphied saying by the famous calligrapher and several excellent art books on his work and other famous artists. To our delight, Tu's paintings are included in the books. My gift was for long healthy life (everyone was worried when I got so sick). Howard's gift was a dragon. Later as we
were taking a gazillion photos, another calligrapher wrote out each of our names for us in Chinese! Can't wait to frame them all for our studio!

Now all of this happened before lunch. We again dined with top dignataries.

On the bus again, lots of good byes and photos and a big truck to carry all of our suitcases! Our translators traveled with us to Shapguan, where they all go to college, and stayed with us as we got settled in our new hotel rooms, had an audience with Zhentao Zheng and during the elegant dinner at our incredibly Deluxe Shaozhou Hotel with the Officers of CCP Shaoguan Municipal Committee and the Municipal Government.

Here are the names of the officials tonight at dinner.
• Zhentao Zheng ( Secretary of CCP Shaoguan Committee )
• Ping Li (standing member of the CCP Shoguan Committee)
• Weiqing He (Vice Chairman of the People's Political Consultative Committee )

The audience with Zhentao Zheng was in a room set aside for dignitaries. I am not kidding! Huge upholstered chairs, similar to chairs you would find in an elegant living room or hotel lobby, lined the walls facing each other. That is where we sat. At one end of the room were three of these chairs facing toward the open center. That is where Zhentao Zheng sat. In the center the camera man was rushing back and forth getting photos while the reporters were quickly taking notes. Okay, maybe this will help. Imagine a room with a throne at one end and elegant chairs for the council on either side.... You got it. A scene from a newscast of Hillary Clinton and you name the head of state.... That is how we felt! It really made me sit up and mind my posture! Pinch me... Is this real? If not, please don't wake me up.

Dinner was beyond elegant ( and at the all time largest round table that we have seen in China). No turntable for this table. Instead we had a lot of lovely ladies serving us each course and we had 14 courses, all designed and placed perfectly on each beautiful china plate! This, too, was fit for royalty, no kidding. The toasts abounded with "Gambai" ( drink up). Each dignitary came to each of us, one at a time with an interpreter and gave us his or her card and thanked us for coming. We would thank them and give them our card ( with both hands...that is proper). Then we would drink a toast and they moved on to the next person. Tu was very happy that they served a wine that is made in the region of his home town.

Okay, if we keep this up, those pounds that I lost the last few days will just jump right back on my body!
One more thing that I want to let you know about.... All during this trip, Everywhere that we travel, we have police escorts. REALLY!! A big white SUV vehicle goes in front of us and has the sirens blasting if a car, truck or bus gets in our way or even near us. Needless to say, all the cars on the road give us room. It is so nice to know that we are in such good hands!

Good news... We have WiFi in our beautiful hotel room ( over looking a gorgeous lake surrounded by trees and mountains - you get the picture) so I can send you some photos!

Here are some photos of us painting models at the academy.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


(OH MY GOSH for those of us that don't text)....
You know the mountains that are in all of the ancient Chinese paintings, very tall and very rounded, well, today we spent the entire day in their presence! We painted all day in Nanpu Village literally nestled among these geographic giants. I want to Google these mountains and find out why they are shaped this way. The air was misty. The village is old and surrounded by patchwork of fields, sugar cane, Chinese cabbage, rice fields, yellow greens, dark greens, warm yellows and bleached whites. It is ancient and timeless. Workers in the fields were carrying water buckets on a long pole balanced on their shoulders. Some were stirring the rice as it dried, some were separating the rice from leaves. There were ittle dots of color among the patches of greens. One by one the villagers would come up behind us and quietly observe.  Then some would comment to our interpreters. It was heart warming to hear that they loved my painting of their peaceful village. It captured the way that they felt about Nanpu. That is why I paint!

We paused for lunch down the road. I am not sure who ordered the lunched, but they arrived steaming hot and in individual containers. Yummmm Delicious! Then it was back to the easels for an afternoon of discovering this world through our colors. We aren't used to these shapes, contours and light of this mountain village, so there was the challenge of adjusting our thinking and colors. It was a great day!

So, you may have been wondering..... What has been happening to the paintings that we have finished the past 4 days. Well, unlike the other locations where the paintings were literally framed and whisked away the instant we signed them. Here we have been able to take them back to our rooms each evening. Some of us were relieved that we could work on them a bit more in the evenings (me especially). But this morning all of the paintings were due in the lobby. One by one they showed up and soon the lobby was filled to the brim with exciting paintings. That is how the day started and that is also how this day ended. After dinner tonight, our paintings that we did today were also gathered in the lobby and whisked away for framing because tomorrow is the Opening of our next show of about 90 paintings. I will have an exact count tomorrow at the show. It is hard to comprehend all the exciting paintings that are being produced on this trip.

But wait! The day is not over! Tonight was also our last night in this location and the government gave us a special party, a Karaoki party! Now I have never been to a Karaoki party and I must say that I had a blast! The young interpreters couldn't wait for us to get there. We had a very nice private room with a huge wall to wall video screen. The music played and the words appeared over the musical video! There were wonderful sofas, fruit and drinks. We sang, we danced and we laughed! Yes, I sang too! "Yesterday" by the Beatles, and a couple of others with Shirley one of our interpreters. She has a terrific voice. We discovered that Joe (interpreter) is a fantastic dancer and has a great voice too..... and Neil and Vera and Nancy and Gar can really "cut the rug", so to speak. Bill did several duets to some of our old favorites and we discovered that he has a terrific voice! Shirley, Tina and lots of us took turns singing, dancing and all of us laughing and cheering. The upper crust of our group. ( over 50 .....) slipped out around 9:15 and let the younger ones cut loose. I am sure that they will still be going strong for another couple hours, at least! Actually we need to give our ears a rest. But then, I do remember when I would go dancing as a teenager and couldn't even hear my self shout at those dances and concerts...... Ah youth!

By the way, I am feeling ever so fine. Thank you for all of your prayers. I had a nasty turn for the worst last night and discovered that my earlier throwing up angered my ulcer and my innards were in knots with pain. Howard to the rescue. He realized what was happening and got me stoked up on Prilosec and anti-acids. That got me through the night and the nurse and doctor took over from there in the morning. They gave me several prescriptions that fixed me right up and I am doing terrific now. I wonder if I can find similar pills at home! Everyone else is mended or on the mend. Tu is the last one to get better. He is battling a bad chest cold but holding his own. He is out there painting with us every day!

Tomorrow we move to a new town and a new hotel. Let's hope that we will have WiFi to attach photos!

my apologies

i am so sorry for the odd background format that is happening. it must have something to do with the transfer of information and limited internet. hang with me until we are up and running smoothly again!

Day Eight

Did I tell you about our incredible interpreters? Well, these young volunteer college students, eager to practice their English with us, are our guardian angels and continue to amaze us.  Susie is my interpreter. James is Howard's interpreter. There is Shirley, Tina and quite a few others. Judy is head of the interpreters, also a terrific gal. All of them extremely helpful and lots of fun. They look after our us, carry our art materials and see to our every need.  Susie was by my side the day that I got so violently sick and helped me describe my illness to Dr. Yung.  She has been an angel by my side ever since!  Everyone is charmed by these wonderful young people (here again, I wish I could attach photos so you could see them, too).
By the way, James wrote out the name of the district that we are in now.... Wengyuan. And he wrote the name of the Temple that we visited yesterday, it is Donghua Temple.
Today we were guests at the local art academy. It is huge!  The top floor was set aside for us today to paint models! What a great surprise! In the morning we had two gorgeous young ladies dressed in the traditional red dresses of China. Neither of them had ever modeled before and they were excellent! Then in the afternoon we had two more models, one gal and one guy, dressed in normal clothes of today. Wow, they were great too! I did get photos of all of us painting them that I will share with you soon. Every day that we have painted, we have been joined by local artists, some students and some very famous. Today was no exception. What a memory to be painting with them! Just painting with the American and Canadian artists on this trip is amazing. These artists are incredible! I can't wait to start showing you some more of their work they are doing each day!
After lunch we were invited to sample the highest quality tea at a beautiful tea shop, one of the finest in the area.....Tatea. The owner is also one of the finest calligraphers in China.
Apparently, our visit to China is consistently showing up in the news on the TV and radio every day. We caught a glimpse of one broadcast a couple nights ago, Nancy was on TV last night as she painted at the temple, and more about our trip is on tonight at the 8 pm and 10 pm on the news channel 22. We really are representing our countries (United States and Canada) while we are here. 
It is such an honor.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Foot note on today.......

This is what we missed when we came back to the hotel after lunch..... A huge parade, very festive with the Master wearing a full headdress and lots and lots of ceremony.  PLUS.... and this is the grand finale.... after the ceremony, the Master gave the artists and the assistants an audiance. While he was with them, he asked to see the paintings that were done at the temple.... and he BOUGHT THEM ALL! WOW!!!! Boy did we miss that one!!!
As for the health report.... Zhiwei Tu's cold had gotten worse. It has gone into his chest. He was taken to the hospital for two injections. Let's hope he feels better in the morning.

Day Seven

Okay, so remember those pesky 10 pounds that just never seem to come off? Well, I think I just found a way to loose 'em.  Travel in China! 
Actually I am feeling a lot better. I'm still a bit weak and shaky, and not eatting much (hence the weight loss), but feeling better. Gar is back to feeling good. However, Nancy still isn't feeling very well, but she is out there painting up a storm. Clayton opted to stay home and fight the bug. Even Tu is not feeling very well, he has a cold. Our dear friend Craig, who travels all over the world, consoles me that..... all this is common for travel.
We spent a delightful, peaceful morning at an ancient Buddhist temple. It was destroyed about 1000 years ago and recently rebuilt. To our delight we were there on the biggest day for this temple.  Once a year believers from all over the world gather to celebrate and we were right in the middle of it! All morning long the drums were beating and the chants were chanting. What a way to make a painting come alive! Saffron robes floating in the wind drifted this way and that way as different ceremonies were called. What a delight!
The weather was unusally cool and a bit drizzly. Though I had on a jacket, I didn't have on socks, so Howard, Tu and I decided to head back to the hotel after lunch. Better to take it easy on my first day back. Our hotel room became the perfect studio, we pulled back the curtains, set up our easels and finished our paintings. Once again our iPads were invaluable as we plalyed music that we downloaded from home and used the nice big image for our reference to finish up our paintings. That new Application called ValueViewer has also been a blessing on this trip. It enables us to quickly see the subject in 3 values of our choice. Plein Air Magazine sponsored this App and I can see why! I used to spend 20 minutes doing a value study..... precious time that I could have been putting down paint. This little App helps me see my subject quickly and help me decide if I really want to paint it.
I wish I could attach some photos. You would love to see the Temple and all of the Monks and our paintings.... I promise, I will send you some as soon as we are getting WiFi again.  By the way, Nancy did a terrific painting of the happy Buddah statue that greeted us at the entrance of the Temple.
Talk to you tomorrow.....

Sunday, October 23, 2011

hi everyone!

We have traveled to the north of Guangzhou and are in a different hotel. This hotel has computers in our rooms, but we can't use our iPads. that means I can't send you any photos for the next 4 days. Hopefully our next hotel will have WiFi, but that is a pretty advanced system. We are just fortunate to get on the internet.

Yesterday I was sick all day....throwing was awful and I am very weak today. The group is off to a wonderful mountain village today, but I need to stay home and rest. We have a doctor that has been hired to be on our trip and we each have an interpreter. They couldn't be treating us any nicer. As we drove up to the hotel yesterday, we were greeted with many dignitaries and 12 beautiful girls dressed in the traditional long dress of China, all in RED! They presented flowers to each of us. I was so sick that I stayed on the bus for most of the ceremony until we were ready to go to our hotel rooms.

Earlier in the afternoon we had the rare privilege of seeing the museum that is being built for Zhiwei Tu. It is as big as the Googenheim in New York! The architecture is absolutely gorgeous! Situated on a river, this building over looks the country side. When it is finished in 2012, it will house the 6 huge paintings ( 8 x 28 foot ) of Zhiwei Tu's and many more of his work. There will be a studio for him to work in and where he plans to create at least 4 more oaf these giant paintings.

Nancy and Gar were sick last night, too, but they decided to go out to the village to paint. Otherwise, I can't say much about today until the gang returns with their stories of adventure. I am staying in bed, resting. Howard promises to take lots of photos, so, through his eyes and the lens of his camera, I can see it too.

That's all for today, I am heading back to bed.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Day Six

It is 2 pm and I am writing to you as we journey down the road to visit some studios of local artists. This morning was Amazing.... Am I using that word too much?
This morning we said good by to Cassie and Gordon and checked out of our hotel.  Some of us had the hotel do our laundry and had big surprises when the bills arrived! I guess 5 star hotels anywhere in the world will charge a lot for laundry and this was no exception! oh well, we all have clean clothes to start week two.
Our first stop was the Kwanwu International Museum in Nunhi. The museum timed our visit to coincide with the Grand Opening of the Museum and once again we were the honored guests. The place was full of important people and reporters. Remember those paintings that each of us brought from home? Well, they have been on display at this museum since we arrived in China. To our delight the entire show sold! Every painting now has a nice red ribbon hanging on it!
Our show was just one part of the celebration. Mr Kwanwu is one of the artists that painted with us all week and was part of our show in Shunde. This museum is dedicated to him, his paintings and his marvelous sculptures. This outstanding artist was born in Nunhi, the same city that is honoring him with this museum. Mr Kwanwu now lives in Kansas City and does many commissions there.
Surrounding this museum is a beautiful park. As part of the ceremony, they unveiled 5 huge sculptural monuments in the park. Each was covered in red silk. Confetti shot into the air as the cloth was pulled away to reveal the beautiful sculptures.
While we were at the Kwanwu Museum, we were honored with young student interpreters. Gloria (my interpreter) is 19 years old. She is studying English literature in the school of business. This was the first time that she was able to use her English with a foreigner. It didn't take long before we were laughing and talking freely. I admire anyone that learns how to speak a second language. Chinese has strong underlying tones that rise and fall like the song of a bird. It is very beautiful.
After all the ceremonies and photos, we were back on the bus to go to a celebration lunch with the artists and the organizers. This was punctuated with several toasts and we lifted our glasses high! Unlike our evening meals when we toasted with wine, we were toasting with Coca Cola.... but it worked just as nicely as wine! The glass is held with two hands and the eyes meet as we whisper shayshay (thank you).
The government of China is emphasizing the importance of the fine arts in their cultural development. There are academies established that give the artists salaries and space to work and in many cases, even pay for their housing (how about that)? What an honor for an artist to be chosen for an academy. We toured one of these academies and had a chance to talk with the artists (I am very grateful for interpreters). As we nibbled on delicious peanuts, giant oranges and bananas, we discussed the art world. We were in agreement that paintings are a universal language, uniting us all and need no interpreters only the hearts of the viewers. They talked about their Russiona influence in the past century. Now they desire the influence from the western cultures for their artistic growth. We agreed that we have much to learn from each other. This really was a chance for us to relate to the Chinese artists. And the world began to shrink some more.
As an interesting side note..... The compositional design in all cultures is determined by the direction that the culture reads their individual language. For instance: in the USA we read form left to right. Our words start on the left side of the page and read over to the right. Consequentially, our culture is more comfortable with compositions that start on the left and the eye travels to the focal point on the right.
For thousands of years, the Chinese read in vertical columns from top to bottom and their paintings reflected that trained eye movement. They are very beautiful vertical paintings that read from top to bottom. Well, about 50 years ago, the Chinese changed the direction of their writing. They now read with the same eye movement as the western world, namely left to right. Growing up with the new way of reading the artists in China are now creating paintings that read with the eye movement left to right. I find this so fascinating! From 1975 to 1978, I lived in Pakistan as an art teacher for the Lahore American School. I learned so much while I was living and painting there. That was the first time that I noticed that the direction of the written word is directly influencing the compositions of that culture's paintings. Urdu, the official language of Pakistan, reads from right to left..... and so do their paintings. If you are interested in this concept, there are great articles on the Internet covering this very subject.
Back to our day....
Then we were back on the bus and traveling to our beautiful hotel on a lake. At first none of us could figure out the air-conditioning in our rooms and they were very hot. One by one we figured it out in preparation for a good night's sleep.
Dinner was once again delicious and once again we had a huge variety of entrees. The evening air had cooled off just enough to be absolutely delightful. It reminds me of the wonderful evenings in Florida, or Venezuela or even the Bahamas.
Today is Calyton's 47th birthday! What a great way to celebrate his birthday in a land of a thousand surprises and delights. Each day is a present here!
Oh, dear, no Internet at this hotel. They have been working for hours to get it set up, but we still can't get on the Internet. That means that this blog won't be posted for a couple days. Hopefully tomorrow at our next hotel, we will be able to use our WiFi.
Here are some pics of the day: