Street sign in the old quarter of Manila

The Philippines.  Wonderful thus far.

Ariel and I are in Palawan, a jagged teardrop island southwest of the Filipino island chain.  Specifically, the tiny town of El Nido in the Bacuit Peninsula.  We're surrounded by karst formations that seem to float on hyper-tropical, bluer than blue water.  Unbelievable.  Yesterday we hired a local boat rigged with bamboo pontoons to take us island hopping.  Totally abandoned beaches, snorkeling and viewing seeing impossibly neon sea life.  In town there are no banks, ATMs, A/C, only partial electricity and no name brand anything.  Tourist shops and bars are alongside local stores selling used clothing from American junk bins and handcrafted fishing nets.  The antithesis of Beijing.

We met our friend Susu, who was also here visiting a few French friends who opened the areas only posh restaurant.  Charming and extremely popular, being that it's the only game in town besides two tucked away exclusive resorts.  Several cocktails and beaches and at least one hangover later, she's flying back to Beijing.

Manila was filled with slums and poverty unlike any place I've ever seen, but had some undeniable charms in the old Spanish quarter of Intramuros and the classy restaurant scene with lovely Filipino food and heavily made up wealthy local ladies with unscrupulous mafioso men in guayabera-like native shirts.  Our plan is to either take a rickety local boat to Manila (perhaps not) or backtrack and see more of this incredible island, before heading to norther Luzon to the UNESCO protected town of Vigan.

More to come.


sewn fabric, oil paint, staples on stretcher bars

Oil, pencil & turmeric on linen 

Oil, canvas, thread, eye hooks, stretcher bars

Oil, chalk, charcoal on canvas

I've been quiet for a while, toying around with new ideas.

It's a slight departure, more towards a kind of "non painting."  I'm interested in designing the painting as a kind of object, and it seems a natural segue to abstraction.  I think it relates.  Work that looks experimental and not quite finished is always going to be what attracts me.

Note: GOLD was hard to photograph correctly, but the colors are more or less correct.  In POINTS, the square of the canvas contains another square tracing the actual stretcher bars using chalk.  It's hard to see in the photograph.


I figured out a wonderful new Japanese VPN for those living in China called Packetix.net, which is from a Japanese university.  I think they should have a Chinese website to help out citizens here who need a free internet.  Instructions for installation are here.  I struggled with paid and free services, and now that I got  to work, it's very fast and efficient.  Thank you Japan!


Our friend Emilie is visiting from Austria and, at the same time, Ariel's father Nelson is here as well.  The house is busy and alive and it feels wonderful.  Even Beijing's unseasonal cold and gray skies don't seem to affect it.  Pictures to follow.

Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of September 11th, and Story Corps created these extremely beautiful, sad animations that deserve to be watched.


untitled, oil on canvas, 20x30cm

Based on a 70s horror movie poster.  Faceless star explosion children.
Indian lemon pickles

A lovely, easy pickle that comes about from some experimenting.  This can be made with limes, but add an additional week.

6 lemons
1 1/2 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon turmeric

Cut each lemon into eight wedges, then halve these, making 16 equal pieces.  Add along with any juices to a glass jar with a tight fitting lid.  Add turmeric and salt directly to jar, cover and shake well until pieces are coated.  Set on windowsill and let sit for ten days, shaking each day.  

Lemons will extrude juices, which in turn marinate the skin and the mixture will darken over time.  After ten days, try a piece.  It should be completely edible and fairly soft.  The next step will be adding spices.

1 tablespoon red chili powder
1 tablespoon fenugreek seed, whole
1 teaspoon black mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon asafoetida
1 tablespoon palm sugar (jaggery)
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Add a tablespoon of oil to a small pan and fry whole spices and asafoetida until mustard pops.  Remove from heat and lightly crush in a mortar and pestle along with jaggery.  Add mixture along with chili and oil directly to lemons.  Cover and shake well.  Pickles can be eaten next day, although will be more mature in another week.  Eat with curd rice for something really delicious.


(An example of someone I wasn't aware that I like as much as I do.  I played the documentary "Herb and Dorothy" for my class this morning, and they had some choice examples of his drawings and paintings.)