Protected by Good Karma

magnolia with blue

 I don’t know if any of you believe in Karma, after my Christmas Eve incident I keep thinking there must be some power protected me from that scary attack.

Here is what happened earlier of that day:

Early that morning after I arrived at the studio I realized I was the only one on my floor and likely the whole building. I decided to lock the door on my floor for my own safety. Later, I heard someone trying the door. I went to checked and found it was the UPS delivery guy. Both his hands were full of packages for the other tenants on my floor. I old him they were not in and I was the only one there. I was feeling sorry for him, offered to sign for the packages. One of them was for the bookbinders down the hall. Thinking I will give it to them when they returned after the holiday.

Later, a few tenants at the others unite came but they didn’t stay long but the bookbinders never came in. Later, I was getting ready to go home in the evening. A man came and was talking on the phone he tried my next neighbor’s door I told him he was not in. Turn out he is one of the bookbinders, Kate’s brother and he came to see if the package has arrived for her. I told him I have the package. He handed the phone to me; I spoke to Kate and made sure he indeed is her brother and I handed over the package to him.

He explained to me, the package was very important to Kate; it was the Christmas presents for her kids. Both were very thankful I signed the package for her.

It was by talking to her brother delayed my leaving that night. Somehow I think it was my little good deed earlier helped me escape from real harm minutes later.


My Christmas Eve Incident

christmas night



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I always think Toronto is a safe city and never encounter any troubles walking in downtown. On Christmas Eve, I enjoyed being alone in my building and painting. Winter in Toronto and darkness came early; even it was not 6pm it was very dark outside. I was heading to the subway to go home as usual, I use the same path every night which only a short walk to the subway. I was just a short distance before I reach the subway entrance.

All of sudden, I heard someone running fast behind me and before I knew I was being bear hug from behind. A man’s voice spoke, demanded I gave him my phone! Although I was in shock but still managed to told him I did not own a cell phone.

“I saw you” that was his reply, then I realized he must saw me taking photos a couple of street earlier and mistaken I had a camera phone. He has followed me and wanted to rob me. I had my camera in my coat’s left pocket. On my left shoulder I was carrying a heavy bag full with my art supplies and news paper for my trip home

. My camera is important to me and I use it daily so I was not given up so easily. My instinct was to call for help; I yell “help! Help!, help!, as loud as I could. He tried to cover my mouth with his hand which gave me the chance to bite into his finger as hard as I could.

With the pain on his finger he released his hand from my mouth and tried to slam me against the iron fence next to the walkway. However he was still bear hugging me which make it hard for him to do this. He lost his balance and both of us hit the ground, He was underneath me and because of the cold weather I had on layers of clothing and with him to cushion of my fall. I was not hurt and I kept yelling for help.

Within seconds two men appeared while both of us still on the ground and he still has his holds on me. I told the men to call 911 as I was being robbed.

However the thief claimed I took his phone and he was merely trying to get it back from me. The men seem confuse of who to believe at first. Finally the tall young man made the call and describe what he was seeing to the 911 dispatcher.

 Meanwhile, I was able to got up and stand closer to the tall young man and he hand me his phone. I was ask by a woman from 911 to describe the thief, his age, height and his clothing while he was still few feet away from me. As I was on the phone, the thief calmly first walked and then ran away and disappear from our view.

The woman from 911 instructed me to remain on the scene for the police arrival and stay in a safe area where I could see. I thanked the young man for his help and wish him a Merry Christmas he then left. Although I was only feet away from the subway entrance where usually is a busy spot. However being Christmas Eve with all the offices in the area was closed for the holiday and it was an extreme cold night, there were few on the street. After waiting for about 20 minutes I was cold and I feeling rather very unsafe. What if the thief returns? I would not be as lucky as the first time. I decided since I was not hurt and nothing was taken from me. I better leave that area and head home..


Making art on Public transit



my mobile art studio

I don’t drive and take the public transit everywhere. Every morning I leave home early from the east end to my studio downtown.  My one way trip with bus, RT and subway would take almost hour and half. The subway ride is the longest among the three different transportation. It takes about 40 minutes. I spent my time on the transit reading (books and newspapers) and think about ideas for my art.

The other morning, I was up extra early and ready for my trip to my studio. Thinking I could be more than half an hour early. However, it did not turned out as planned.

Our Toronto subway system is aging fast, break-downs and delays occur far too often. My train was stopped in the tunnel for half an hour due to some fire investigation. As I sat there wonder how my time been wasted but nothing I could do just sit and wait.

grasshopper drawing

Later, back in my studio, an idea came to me: I would use the subway trains as my mobile studio. The same evening for my trip home I was prepared. I packed an artist kits:  pen, tiny watercolor paper, miniature watercolor set and small bottle of water. I turned my long ride into something more enjoyable. I start my little drawing by memory. Not only it helps to keep my mind sharp and with the small scale I can focus on the details of the drawing.

The first one I produced is the “grasshopper” which is 3”x6.5” and finished in one trip. The second is the  kingfisher 9.5”x4.5” and took two trips.


Story behind the painting

 pink daklias
Most of the flower paintings has stories behind them:
Chinatown is not far from my studio, a Chinese senior planted some of the most beautiful Dahlias in the neighborhood I took photos of them when it was in their prime .Eventually, I got to know the owner. One time she even came to my art opening
one year, after the long winter I went by her house something looked different, her little garden was missing the usual spring flowers. She was gone! i have no idea if you has moved or pass away. I never see her again and her beautiful dahlias were missed.

Pink Dahlias
watercolor on Arches 140lb rough paper, 16″x20″ .

Christmas gift from a gardener

parrot tulips

My friend Giuseppe is a former opera singer turn opera coach and director. He is also a passionate gardener. Every spring, he plants and rearranges his massive garden as always he impresses us all with the most glorious display of plants and blooming flowers. Friends would visit him to see his amazing garden and greenhouse. He never disappoints us, always come up with the most unusual color combination which ones never expected.
It was him who introduced me to the wonder of parrot tulips. He panted many of them all over his garden. I love the wild combination of red and green and the unusual petals. One Christmas, he surprised me with a bag of tulip bulbs and told me it was the parrot tulips.
When the ground was soft enough in spring, I planted them and then forgot about it. No flower appears that year.
However when next spring came, flower buds appeared after the leaves became taller. Every evening, soon after I arrived home I would head to the backyard to check on its progress.
On a warm spring day, my parrot tulips open, it was the most glorious sight with the dashing colors under the evening light. My gift of the parrot tulips makes their appearance very springs and I always thankful for this wonderful gift from a good friend and a great gardener.

Winter Whites

winter whites
I love a big snowfall, every winter I look forward for the snow. Yesterday, my wish came true we had the first big snowfall which turned the city into a winter wonderland.
As usual, I be out tried to capture it with my camera and as always ended up at the Allan Gardens.
One Christmas the greenhouses were full with big, beautiful blooming amaryllis. I particular love the white ones and it reminded me of the snow outside. Somehow they found its way into my painting.
“Winter Whites” watercolor on Arches 90lb rough paper, 20″x30″

Snowy day is good for painting

pink orchid watercolor

december Iris

It has been snowing all day here in Toronto. As soon as I get in my studio it just started to snow and haven’t let up. I love the snow; it looks like the dancing snowflakes cover the streets with a white blanket. The streets are is quite without the shoppers and few cars are on the road. I enjoy the warm inside and work on my paintings.

I don’t know if other artists are like I do, I like to work on more than one painting at a time. Both finished this afternoon.  Both the pink orchid and the blue iris are 16”x20”, on Arches 140lb rough paper.