The Religion Network
                        Inspirational Quotes for the Day.

Today: At the Heart of Art - Nan Rae speaks
This page changes each weekday.
Bonus Quote:
The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference.
The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference.
The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference.
And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.
Elie Weisel (1928-    )
American writer, Nobel Peace Prize winner,
Holocaust Survivor

    WELCOME! I'm Lisa Bowman. The Religion Network is an interfaith website providing daily inspiration, quotes and
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  On today's site:
  • God's unity in beauty seen: a poem by Shepherd
  • AN INTERVIEW: Chinese brush artist Nan Rae
  • On art: Rabindranath Tagore & Laozi
  • Nan Rae, continued
  • In the Forum: a true story from Suellen Fry
And The Last Words: Bourignon & Merton
Photo by Chuck Bowman
Photo by Stephen Bowman
Photo by Chuck Bowman
Photo by Chuck Bowman

    I am pure nothing; but God is
    everything in me. He teaches me,
    he works, he speaks in me, without
    nature contributing more than the
    mere tool, as a brush contributes
    to the art of a beautiful painting.

    Antoinette Bourignon (1616-1680)
    Flemish Christian mystic
0012 The Eye of Beauty

Krishna passed that mountain many times;
and yet his followers observed that day
that all his mind was filled with fresh delight
as if he'd never walked, nor seen, that way;

the beauty of the mountain ever new,
the moment of its sight, the world reborn;
the mind surprised by what it always knew:
the beauty past all beauty's name and form.

This is true beauty, in ourself revealed:
a sight that's ever fresh, yet ever known;
which eye sees pure, yet mind too oft
God's unity, in beauty seen; all, One;

The moment's grace of beauty, ours all day;
from outward eye the sight of inward Way.

Michael Shepherd (b. 1929)
English poet, editor and art critic
An Interview with Nan Rae,
Chinese Brush Artist
Nan, your art is consistently joyous in nature.
Has it always been that way?

Great joy came into my life when I realized that yes
indeed, there really is a God and He really does love
me in the most personal way. I suppose that my work
reflects my interior life and that thought makes me
very happy but also places a great sense of responsi-
bility on me to 'stay connected'!

How does your prayer life mingle with your life as an artist?

I think they're inseparable. I know each day that life is a gift, that I have a purpose and that this purpose
is to be used to be a blessing. We are all called to that.

What tests have you faced in your life and how have they affected the way you paint?

This is an easy one.  
If we can only be happy and productive when things are going well for us that really doesn't speak very
well for our character or relationship with the Lord. Paul did sing songs in prison did he not? You don't
have enough space for me to list the tests in my life but I will tell you this, the Lord is faithful and brings
us through...always leading us toward a better place. I'm rather like a 'Nike' painter. In other words, I just
do it!
(Interview with Nan Rae continues further down the page...)
What is art? It is the response of man's
creative soul to the call of the Real

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)
Hindu Bengali poet and Nobel Peace Prize winner
A good traveller has no fixed plans and is
not intent upon arriving. A good artist lets
his intuition lead him wherever it wants.

Laozi (6th century BC)
Nan, do you have to feel inspired to paint?

When I worked in the 'Western' mode the answer would be absolutely. I would feel 'inspired'
and work feverishly.........unload the inspiration, and then wait for the next 'bolt from the blue'
to strike. With Chinese Brush painting it's exactly the opposite. I just sit down and paint Iris, a Poppy, a little bird on a branch. The style I use is based on the
'Gentleman Scholars' or 'Literati' who felt that in order to be truly cultivated, one should not
only write beautifully but be able to paint. They would stroll in their gardens, notice the first
Plum blossom or whatever and ecstatically come in and rapidly paint what they had seen, not
using a model or making any corrections. The spontaneity and freshness of this style appeals to
me on the deepest level as does the expression,
' from heart to arm to hand to brush to paper'.  
What drew you to Chinese Brush painting?

In 1980 I journeyed to Giverny to see Claude Monet's
restored home and garden. It became a true moment of
wonder for me when I saw his collection of Japanese
woodblock prints on the walls of his foyer. As an art
student, a common factoid is that the Impressionists and
Post-Impressionists were greatly influenced by Asian art.
This just rattled around somewhere in my mind until I was
confronted with the fact that not only did Monet (my hero)
like Asian art but he COLLECTED IT! Upon my return to
the states I learned that a micro-biologist was teaching
Chinese Brush painting at Brand Park, just down the hill
from my home here in Southern California.
Many great artists have agonized when they painted.
What's the process like for you?

Well thank you for the link with 'great artists'. I
apologize in advance for a rather simplistic answer
but quite frankly, I just sit down and go to work.
It's what I do and honestly, I have no ego
attachment to it. When I finish a painting, I'm as
surprised as someone looking at it as I feel no
personal connection. What I feel is extreme
gratitude and humbleness that I've been allowed
to do work that is called 'art' and also earn a
living in the doing.
Can anyone learn to paint?

From my experience in teaching thousands of adults I
would say emphatically yes. Every once in a while I have
someone who has the classic 'two left feet' translated to
painting. It's very rare however and as soon as I convey
the importance of enjoying the journey and leaving any
critical parent at the door, people do great. Many of my
students become professional artists in their own right
and I had one woman from out of state give me a great
big hug while exclaiming that I changed her life. She
had been an office worker, bought my teaching book,
'The Ch'i of the Brush' and is now earning a living with
her paintings.
How can one be an "artist" (in the large sense )
for the Lord?

God longs to replicate His son Jesus in each of us and        
Jesus longs to reveal the Father to us. When I get up        
in the morning and look outside, I see the glorious           
sky, amazing flowers, bees, maybe a deer or two, our
dog Yuki..........all about me I fill up with the work of
the Creator. God is always creating and it's a continual
source of wonder and blessing to me. I see that He is
also continually creating us, developing us, making our
hearts tender (sometimes that takes a little 'tenderizing')
and that by consciously being present, being in the
moment at all times we can will to be a blessing. I fully
expect everyone I come in contact with to be better for it
because that is the deep desire of my heart, my conscious
intent. So, in a sense, we can create peace, love, joy ...
any manner of blessing if we determine to see everyone
who enters our little personal universe as being
important to God and that they are loved by Him as much
as we would like to think that we are loved.
And now, the Last Words:
Nan Rae interview, continued
"Mountains of Tibet"
"Carp Diem"
"The First Day"
    Artwork on this Home Page by Nan Rae.
    All rights reserved. Visit:
"Crane Lake Ballet"
"The Red Lantern"
"Enjoy the Little Things!"
"The Prince!"
"Mother in Israel"
"Lake Dragon"
Art enables us to find ourselves
and lose ourselves at the same

Thomas Merton (1915-1968)
Trappist monk and author
My deepest thanks to Nan Rae for so generously sharing both her
spirituality and her artwork. Her striking paintings are available as
greeting cards at
Painting by Nan Rae