Tag Archives: children

Art Trip to China, part one


My volunteer staff (Rae-Rae and Jasmine in black/maroon scarfs) and students.

I recently came back from a 3 week trip to China, where I taught some art projects, completed a mural and lived among local residents in a tiny village in Guoyang, Ahni Provence, China.  I’m going to break my posts into a few parts leading up to the mural finale.

First, after a high-speed rail and several taxis, my volunteers staff and I arrived at the village.  My staff were very young, in their late teens to early 20’s.  All were involved because the trip was sponsored by the Jinquan Volunteer Art Center in Shanghai.  It’s a great organization to bring arts to rural areas in China.  Most schools don’t have art, music and many other things.  After reading an article featuring artist Kevin Macpherson and his art ambassador trips for the same purpose I went, I was inspired to do it myself.  I wanted to see what kind of impact I can have in a remote village.  I made my art schedule ahead of time too.  Projects such as Ping-Pong paddle art, umbrellas and painting outdoors were all on my list for the kids.  These kids are part of migrant families living in a farm village with little facilities compared to western standards.  Heating and showers are a luxury.  Luckily, I was offered a heater from the headmaster and soon my own room, which was next to the art classroom where I taught my art projects.

My trip started with a surprise snowfall and just as soon as I met some of the kids, it suddenly escalated into a full-force snowball fight!  What a way to break the ice!  It was the first time in years I saw snow.  Soon after, the cold weather started to impact my health too, but that’s not as important as completing my mission in the village.



Many paths in the farm village

One project that went well was the ping-pong paddle project. The goal was to do a self-portrait on one side and symbolism of their culture on the other side. Could be relating to Chinese new year or something of their village.  I wanted them to make art with a purpose, and they love ping-pong.  Did it work?  Yeah, I think they enjoyed this project, though I didn’t see them play with the paddles after that.  They might have hid them but at least they made something special and unique.


Students happy with their new paddles

As you can see, the students were into the projects.  They first drew their ideas out on paper before painting on the paddles.  This way, they can form their ideas and create a better and clear vision of their efforts.  The class ranged from 6-15 students depending who wanted to show up.  Part two coming soon!China_Class_1

An intimate portrait of myself


Josh, age 3
graphite on paper

Last Tuesday, I made a remarkable move that will affect the rest of my art career.  At least I hope it will.  I found a master painter about an hour from where I live, in a small pottery/cermaics town called Yingge.  His name is A.W. Lin.  It reminds me of my old hometown of Lambertville, NJ.  Full of old world charm and arts in the air.  (more…)

Taiwanese Halloween Sisters, pt 2



Taiwanese Halloween Sisters
size:  12″x 16″
price:  $675 USD
[wp_cart_button name=”Taiwanese Halloween Sisters” price=”$675″]

Over the course of nine days, I went on a little painting journey in many parts that were unknown to me. I’ve never painted multiple figures in one painting before, or came up with a background that was suitable for the figures. Backgrounds can be tricky. Either they push the painting into flight beyond your imagination or it can be invasive and distract from the figures. I knew I wanted to keep the background simple. Much of Chinese art have very simple and clean backgrounds, and I wanted to have that element in my work.

These are my Taiwanese students. Jade and Nell (with her dog Pluto). That dog was always with her and felt it was important to include the dog. It helps add life to their already wonderful story. The background was all my own. I’ve experimented with a moon, with just a pink background, and just organically, I came up with a tree that resembles what you would find in Taiwan. I also used textures and scraping the paint for raw, primal effects. The hardest part was getting the expressions right. I always felt like I could do the hair and eyes the best. They’re my favorite part. But the facial features, you have to get certain marks right or they’ll look like someone else. It’s very tedious. But when you finally get it, you just know it. My dad asked me the other night “How do you know when it’s done?” I think the painting’s done when you really can’t think of anything else to improve on it. I would rather underwork it a bit than overwork. Overworking it will squeeze the life out of it quickly. So you have to learn to hold back.

filling in the main patches of color.

This piece was also amazing due to the fact that I could see many influences throughout the painting. I’m not a purist, except that I go for authenticity and emotion. I want to feel something special when it’s done, as if the children are communicating something to you. That’s the real power of painting. Evoking emotions where other things in life just blind or distract you. We are bombarded by thousands of images each day. I believe our mind is like junk mail, in that we’re so used to getting useless stuff, we easily can filter out anything. But in our fast, modern world, we tend to become desensitized to help protect us from visual overload.

adding more layers to the painting, including background.

One of the great things with art is that it’s like a reset button for the senses. It helps us bring us back to what’s real, what’s important in life. I guess that’s one of many reasons why I still do it. The fire’s still there, and I wanted to push my own boundaries into the unknown, to come up with something special. Because that’s what I enjoy doing. I love to see my work grow. I love to see progress. And I love to see people really touched by what I’ve done. It’s a great thing to provide to a chaotic world.