Spring Blessings and Chinese Design Influences

The Secret GardenThe Gardens in Spring, Hong Kong Parkview

Kari and Kijsa are hosting a Homage to Spring Monday, March 10th on their blog. A little Spring to celebrate it just being a few minutes away, around the corner. Mr. Robin has been stopping by, even though I did see him wearing a little coat. Stop by and see all their links to Springtime Bouquet Blogs. When I think of Spring, I think of pansies, garden ornaments on my front steps, baby ducklings, lambs and white blossoms.

springpansies, ducklings, and ornaments on my front steps

Tulips are another wonderful Spring blessing, and I have been working on a series of Canvas Originals in mixed media, trimmed in organza ribbons.

TULIP ORIGINAL CANVAS CREATIONTulip Canvas Original, mixed-media

Now if you would like to visit all these Spring Blessing Blogs, just go visit Kari and Kijsa's place, or if you have something lovely and celebrating your Spring blessings, just add your link to the bottom of their post.

I have something special that I would like to also share. This is called Chinese Design Influecnes

The Influence of Chinese Calligraphy and Bookmaking

The Chinese culture has been sewn into my heart, and is so much a part of my sense of design after living there for five years. When our family lived there, it was still a British Colony, so we had the luxury of living in an English speaking country with the exotic elements of being in far away Hong Kong. In 1997, the year before we moved back to America, Hong Kong was handed back over to the Chinese government.

Let me offer you a cup of Chinese tea, as I take you with me through the influence of Chinese design. One of my favorite walks in Hong Kong was visiting an area there called Hollywood Road. Up on the steep hills overlooking the Central District were Antique shops, decorator shops and more than enough eye candy to inspire an artist for a month.

Hong KongCentral District

Along Hollywood Road there was the most intriguing little shop. Once inside there were hundreds of calligraphy journals, ink, brushes and all sorts of little objects to do with the art of Chinese Calligraphy. A Calligraphy student would typically write on one side of the accordian bound journal and paint beautiful mountains, birds and landscapes on the other side. All to do with the art of mastering ink, Chinese characters, a brush, and the importance of a simple stroke to tell a story.

Happy Hong Kong WashlineWatercolor 1993 Happy Hong Kong Washline

According to a wonderful web site called Art ChinaVoc I found, explaining the Art of Chinese Calligraphy, they explain how it is just like painting. It uses many characters to communicate the spiritual world of the artist.

As I visit the art of altered books, I can't help but see the influences. Here are a few Chinese Calligraphy books I brought back from China. They are covered with beautiful satin material and I have them ranging from very tiny to Huge. I have painted one and decorated the pages of another to be filled with quotes as a gift. I have found many rubber stamps with Asian images and Chinese characters to enhance my designs.


100_2252Inside my red Chinese box is one of my favorite treasures.

100_2253Some of the many tools of Calligraphy...the ink stick, tray, spoon, my chop and holder for the Calligraphy brushes.

100_2250Mr. Chop is a hand-picked carving that was designed with my name in Chinese. The characters are my name and I use it to sign some of my more Asian style artwork.

100_2227 With my wonderful Chinese tools set up and a bit of the music I remember so well from Hong Kong, the atmosphere seems to guide my designs.

100_2220 I have found so many wonderful books and magazines that take this influence into the wonderful world of altered books, art and mixed-media. One of my favorites is a book called Creative Correspondence by Michael and Judy Jacobs. It is the most fabulous book creating all kinds of interesting folds, designs and ideas. The Asian influence goes beyond the cover and once inside you learn how to combine this inspiration with a Western flavor. I love how Michael Jacobs spins a tutorial with themes that suggest he must be a thoughtful grandfather.

My creationThis card was designed using folding techniques in the book, and a bit of friendly plastic heated and stamped for some added texture and then I added pockets and a tassel enhancement.

Well, I can't take you with me for a walk through the shops along Hollywood Road today, but I can certainly offer you a browse through the pages of Return To Asia, by Somerset Studios so that you can feel the joy of Asian inspiration. I can also offer you a cup of tea from my clever Chinese teapot, which houses hot brewed tea on one side and hot water on the other. This way I can freshen your cup of tea, as the water is surely a bit cold after reading this rather long post.

My creation

Learning about Tea Living in China made me realize how beautiful the culture is and the many influences that we enjoy here in Western society. Today, there are many resources available to us. We can read numerous books, magazines, web sites and can purchase the wide array of Asian papers on hand for our artwork. Whether seeing the Chinese influences in fashion, artwork or furniture design, the wisdom of ancient history dances around our Western culture almost everywhere we look. The song for this post is my favorite Chinese music called Dragon Song (very lucky), it stirs the magic that you find there, and the mystery that lies in it's ancient history and elegant designs.

Please feel free to freshen your cup of tea with some nice hot water. If you would like to learn more, The Hong Kong Tourist Association offers the most glorious videos of this magical place called Hong Kong.

My creation
Cookie said...

OH, how gorgeous! You've shared such a wonderful presentation -- complete with beautiful music. My personal favorite is the watercolor of the Chinese wash line. It's lovely.

OWOH was such fun this year. I wanted to stop by and thank you again for entering my drawing. I hope this finds you well, and happilly warm.

toothfairy said...


The overview of asian artwork was amazing and truly breathtaking! Your designs are a lovely interpretation of this style! I have an appreciation for the details of this culture as well! Jan@daylilylane

Alison Gibbs said...

Love the Spring Banner.
Thanks for sharing some of your Hong Kong influences with us.
I am having an ATC Giveaway Contest on my blog so if you are interested come check it out.

suesviews said...

What a wonderful post, Karen! I have a box with two chinese brushes in it, and a book on Chinese calligraphy so far... and I absolutely adore the beautiful accordion-fold mini-journal that arrived in the post from your very good self a while ago now :D I have a project in mind for it, when I have some free time again!
Bless your heart, Karen, it's such a treat to catch up with you blog every time! Thank You! :D
Much Love & Many Blessings, always..
Suze xXx

Kari & Kijsa said...

Absolutely beautiful and inspiring...loved the colors, and all different varieties!!

Come on over and leave this post (or another filled with warm weather fun!) link to share a bit of spring and wash away those winter blues!

kari & kijsa

Melissa @ The Inspired Room said...

Hey Karen, this was so fun!!! The music was the perfect touch to make me feel like I was actually there! I've grown to appreciate other cultures and their influences in my designs - decorating. My grandparents and dad spent a lot of time in Thailand and they have passed down treasures I now have in my own home. There is a real richness to having things around you from other cultures and travels.

Happy day, thanks for sharing!

Rhondi said...

Hi Karen Oh I enjoyed reding your blog today and looking at all the wonderful photos and your beautiful artwork! For a few minutes I was transported to another place and another time! I enjoyed the cup of tea too, especially in that clever two spout teapot. What a great idea.
You have led a very interesting life. I am enjoying getting to know you! Rhondi xo

Teri C said...

Oh gosh, I am speechless with all the beauty on here today!! Everything is simply gorgeous! I enjoyed every minute of viewing. Thank you.

Mrs.B said...

I love tulips too! They are my very favorite flower. Your pictures and artwork were just lovely in this post. (o:


Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Ahhhh, Karen, that was a magical post. I enjoyed every word, every picture. Thank you!

Kathy at Shocking Pink Thread said...

Karen, you have such a lovely way with words and images. I truly enjoyed it all.

Charmingdesigns said...

What a wonderful blog! I am going to try to get my "spring" put on my blog tomorrow! I will be back to visit! Laurie

Kari & Kijsa said...


We wanted to stop back by and tell you thank you so much for your sweet words and wonderful inspiration!

Have a blessed day!

smiles, kari & kijsa

M.KATE said...

Hi Karen, good day. so sorry that i nearly missed your comment on my blog and am so glad I found you too!! You've got a fabulous blog here, so you're definitely on my link!! Love to send a postcard to you, so do hop over :) lots of hugs :)

Sheila said...

Thank you for stopping by Karen, and leaving a comment. I am glad I came here. What an interesting post. I love eastern influence in most thing, but especually china. Anything blue and white being my favourite. And TEA, well it has to be my favourite drink, in all it's forms.
I love the colour in your blog, it is a Happy place. I will visit again..!

GardenGoose said...

lovely art works.love the new tulip painting and really like the Asian influenced works as well.

Mary Isabella said...

I love it all. Have a beautiful night my friend...

Mary said...

Oh Karen, how wonderful to have had the opportunity to live in Hong Kong! Thank you for a beautiful and inspiring post!

Sharon said...

A very interesting post, the artwork is lovely.

windy angels said...

Beautiful spring, beautiful Asian influence.
Hoping your week has gone well.
Many blessings,
Wendy XO

A Fanciful twist said...

Oooo! Fabulous music to go with this post!! I love Spring, I love tea, I love anything Asian!! Spectacular!!

Tara said...

What a womderful tour, Karen! Love visiting here and learning from you!

That was great!