Two Herons

With "No matter the distance, we are under one sky." The philosophical meaning behind each underscore and enhance each other's impact. This is a great combination.

It all started when...

A customer asked to pair two pieces into one - the customer loved the philosophical meaning behind the painting, but also wanted the messaging in one of the calligraphy offerings. I made a custom piece that put them together, making a powerful emotional impact for the customer. YOU CAN DO THIS TOO!

Not all paintings will lend themselves to every calligraphy combination - 1) it's good to consider the philosophical meaning behind the phrase and whether it supports the symbolism in the painting to make sure you don't get a confusing and contradictory message out of the end product. 2) there is the physical size and composition of the piece to consider. Small paintings get crowded with long calligraphy, while some have existing lines that don't allow for easy additions.

That said, do you see something in the Calligraphy Shop that you would like to pair with a painting from the Main Shop? Contact me and let's discuss the options! It is fun to get something that is uniquely meaningful to you or a loved one, and I love to work with customers to get something that is just right for them.  Check out some more real-customer customizations below!


Hen and Rooster

with "True Victory is Victory Over Oneself." A perfect reflection of what these plucky little warriors represent in Chinese philosophy.

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Yin/Yang Duo

Horses Racing in Moonlight with “neither cold nor hot,” paired with Two Herons and “wabi sabi.” These two bring both yin (cool, passive, intuitive) and yang (hot, active, executive) energies into a space and were selected to help the client to achieve a restful sense of balance and ease, intuition and action. A very auspicious pairing! I love to see my work through the eyes of another, and end up with something unique and new on the other side. What “energy pairings” can you think of that would help balance your home? Start a conversation with me!

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Rustling Bamboo

This was a custom commission for a person looking for a statement piece that would also help her to find inner tranquility and remind her of her mother. Have you ever had the privilege of sitting in a bamboo forest? I have, when I visited Japan many years ago. A bamboo forest sounds different to western ears. The leaves rustle at a higher frequency than we are accustomed to, and sound almost like a waterfall, or ocean tides. In the meantime, the trunks squeak, groan and *click* against each other turning the entire forest into an earth-sized wooden wind chime. A bamboo forest is thought to be a uniquely good place to meditate. It is no wonder that bamboo has held the Chinese imagination for millennia. Bamboo’s deep roots denote resoluteness; its tall, straight stem represents honor; its hollow interior and clean, spartan exterior, modesty and humility.

Calligraphy reads “Mountain wind listening to Buddhist prayer.” Interesting to note: if you look at the 3rd character, you will see that it is the same character for mindfulness. Prayer, in this instance = mindfulness and vice versa. This is true in Asian philosophy anyway. “Praying” doesn’t exist in the Western sense. It is the inner quiet of mindfulness. This piece should help you relax and let go of all the things that harry your mind. But its exact meaning will be different for everyone.

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Two Herons

With "You already know the way." Another powerful combination for the Two Herons painting.


Sampans in a Clouded Gorge

With "My path is mine to me; I treasure it and follow it to the end." HOWEVER, there are several calligraphy offerings that would also make great combinations here, such as "The willing heart is the dojo," "True victory is victory over oneself," "Every day is a good day," "Self-knowledge brings happiness," or "Inner peace." Get creative with it and give me a call or email to get it going!


Tiger and the Strawberry

I used "Tiger Lapping at a Stream" as the base image for this piece, but customized it to reflect a Zen parable meaningful to the customer:

The Tiger and the Strawberry. Do you know the story? I did this custom piece for a couple celebrating their 2nd wedding anniversary, and who wanted something that would contain the elements of a Zen parable that the pastor shared on their wedding day.

A man is running for his life from a tiger in the jungle, stumbling over rocks, crashing through underbrush, and in his terror, runs right over the edge of a cliff. He catches a strawberry vine on the way down and hangs there a moment. He looks up and sees the tiger above him. He looks below him and sees a pit of snakes (or, in some versions, another tiger). Death above, death below. And then, two mice skitter down to the vine, one black and one white, and they begin to chew through the vine. The man, knowing his eventual fate, reaches for a strawberry nearby and eats it, and it was the sweetest berry he ever had.

Ultimately, the tiger represents all the things that hound us in life - the striving, the attachment, the unfulfilled desires, and ultimately.... Death, which comes for us all. The mice represent night and day - the passage of time. The tiger and the mice cannot be shaken or lost. They are with us always. But the berry is the sweetness we encounter along the way. Life is like that. Do you agree?

This was a very custom piece, but if you have an idea that you want to discuss, let's talk! We may be able to do something exactly right for you! Or GET YOUR OWN TIGER AND THE STRAWBERRY!


Panda Swinging in Bamboo

This Panda Swinging in Bamboo went to the CEO of a tech company in California, a gift from one of his sales reps. It has been customized to include the character for "Shoshin" - the Zen concept of "Beginner's Mind" - which is one of the company's core principles, as well as a perfect embodiment of what the panda represents in Chinese philosophy - the playfulness and child-like qualities of humankind. Wow. What a great idea!