2019 is Year of the Earth Pig! by Alexandra Chan

Boar in a Snowy Wood should help you tap in to a well-deserved rest after two trying years of Rooster and Dog. The boar is the “laughing Buddha” of the Chinese Zodiac.

Boar in a Snowy Wood should help you tap in to a well-deserved rest after two trying years of Rooster and Dog. The boar is the “laughing Buddha” of the Chinese Zodiac.

Well, friends, the last two years of Rooster and Dog have been very trying ones, which is why the Chinese are downright giddy at the coming of the gentle and benevolent Earth Pig. The fat and happy Pig (or Boar) is the laughing Buddha of the Chinese Zodiac, pleased as punch in just about any situation. The story goes that when the Emperor was creating the Zodiac calendar, he hosted a race for all the animals of the realm, promising to award the first 12 with a place in the calendar. Pig came in last because he was just so comfortable where he was.

From February 5, 2019 to January 24, 2020, Pig (or Boar) is expected to reign with a joyous hand, bringing long-needed relief to many, and closing out the full rotation cycle of the 12 signs of the Chinese Zodiac. Finishing the calendar cycle is akin to a full exhale; there is a sense of cleansing and completion, as well as a feeling of pregnant pause at the base of the breath – for review, for appreciation, for planning - before the cycle swings back into motion.

Pig is ethical and idealistic and represents both wealth and generosity (giving and receiving) in Chinese culture. Prepare yourselves for a more festive and relaxed atmosphere in 2019, surrounded by creature comforts and friends of the heart. You may find yourself attracting abundance of all kinds, but may also be more prone to spending it too. And why not? It’s been a tough two years. Take a load off. Take time to appreciate where you are and see how far you’ve come. If you think you are not deserving of the little things, then how can you ever receive the bigger ones?

That’s what Year of the Pig is all about – a well-deserved rest for body, mind and spirit. Analysis of the previous years will help you to project yourself more serenely into the next cycle. Although not a great time for wild risk-taking, Pig’s strategic vision and business skills do ensure that passion projects can become a reality through thoughtful and inspired action.

My first painting to kick off Year of the Pig is called Boar in a Snowy Wood, and it has calligraphy that reads "love, peace, and happiness," which is the essence of what this year is to be about.­

Listen to my Interview on the All In with Pauline Hawkins Show! by Alexandra Chan

If you missed it live, you can listen to my interview this past Sunday on the All In with Pauline Hawkins podcast. I’m still buzzing from the free-wheeling, wide-ranging, high-vibing conversation we had. Pure positive energy, folks, and some damn fine music too. Check it out while you’re folding laundry or something. Hear me talk about brush painting, photography, archaeology, writing, and what ties it all together for me, what going "all in" means to me. Enjoy it, it's a wonderful show.

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2018 is Year of the Earth Dog! by Alexandra Chan

Dog will accelerate the initiation of all things. Seeds planted in 2017 will bear fruit in 2018. At the same time, procrastination and negligence are words you will have to leave at the door. There is “no rest for the weary” in a Dog Year.  The dual energy of Dog promises a bumpy ride between highs and lows in the coming year.

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What's in a Chop? by Alexandra Chan

Two of my own chops - "Tranquility Yields Transcendence" (left); and "Chung Chan" (or Jung/Zhong Chan in today's transliteration), right. See gallery below for my other chops and how they look on paper.

Chinese seals or "chops" first came into use during the Shang Dynasty (1600 - 1046 BCE), and are used to this day to put a person's or a family's, or even a corporation's, name onto documents, artwork and literary writings - to mark authorship. Some believe that this stems from a time when most people couldn't read or write. The distinctive image of each chop would be recognizable as unique and belonging to only one person.

The chop itself is also considered to be a work of art in its own right, since after the carver inscribes the seal script on the stamp end, he often turned it around and carves an animal or other figure on the distal end. Chops might also contain words, phrases, family mottoes, or pictures carved into the sides. Ancient chops could be made from bone, horn, wood, fruit pits, ceramic, gold or brass. Stone has been the material of choice, however, since medieval times. If you look closely, you will also notice that no chop is fully "closed." There are always little white spaces around the edges that are meant to let the energy of the chop - the artist's "soul signature" - flow.

It has been customary for thousands of years for artists, in particular, to mark their work with their chop; but it may interest you to learn that the studio they worked out of, as well as every person who bought the painting down through the years would also put their chops on the work. Depending on who constituted this chain of provenance, all these extra chops might actually increase the value of the original work rather than detract from it.  I have read that some paintings from ancient China might have as many as 20 different chops.

My own chops were custom carved to represent my family name (which was originally Jung or Zhong, before the various circumstances of immigration changed it to Chan), as well as my painting motto: "Tranquility Yields Transcendence." I paint because I believe painting itself, as well as the mere act of contemplating it, quiets the mind and brings focus and clarity to the energies that move you forward in life.

My company "mood seal": "Tranquility Yields Transcendence."

My company "mood seal": "Tranquility Yields Transcendence."

2017 is Year of the Fire Rooster! by Alexandra Chan

2017 is Year of the Rooster, a period when the fiery temperament of the Rooster is expected on the one hand to infuse more enthusiasm and energy into our activities, but on the other to usher in a destructive relationship with the status quo, meaning that challenges may proliferate for everyone during the year, and seismic change is almost inevitable.

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2016 is Year of the Monkey! by Alexandra Chan

Now is the time to start new endeavors – personal, business, or otherwise (Start a small business! Get going on that new health and fitness goal! Shed toxic people from your life and invite new relationships in)  – for they are destined to succeed under Monkey’s influence.

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