It’s Been A While

It’s been a while since my last blog entry.  A lot has happened in this thing called life – some very challenging and some very hopeful and beautiful.  About a year ago I had lost my mom because of cancer.  Through the trying times, I had to dig deep coming to grips with my faith and even questioning what I think I really believe.  The grieving and the healing have been painfully gut wrenching, but I do believe it is necessary to go through. At times missing her has left me feeling numb but life continues and I am grateful for experiencing this incredible thing called grace.


Mom’s last birthday with us (Brother Dean with ukulele)

Looking back, little did I know that an intimate and important conversation would comfort mom, spark my creativity, help heal me and offer hope to others.  Shortly after mom had found out that she had stage four cancer, she dropped by our home (mom lived next door to us) and as she sat on our couch she kept saying, “This going be so hard”.  I told her “I know mom and I’m sorry you have to go through this”.  Not knowing what else to say, I read to her the words that a close friend had sent to me earlier.

“Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, NIV)

So after I read this I knew that mom didn’t understand it all, so I tried to explain it in a way that she would understand and be comforted.  “Hard only for little while mom, God changing you inside to something golden.  You going to have no more disease, no more diabetes. Imagine that mom”.  At that moment I could see her face change from worry, pain and frustration to awe and almost wonder.  “No more disease”, she said with relief and almost joy.  Mom passed away 3 and a half weeks later and though after her passing it’s been most challenging, looking back, I see God’s amazing grace through it all.

As a way to help cope with learning about the terrifying news of mom’s cancer to the pain of losing and missing her, I began to paint.  I would reflect on the Bible verse and put down whatever I was going through at the moment.  It may have been dealing with personal struggle or celebrating in triumph or simply observing something that struck me as beautiful or captivating such as the colors of a morning sky or sunlight filtering through leaves.


Morning sky inspiration

 Each day, I would put down a layer on a painting. I would work on several paintings at a time and layer upon layer the work became a journal of what was going on in my life.


Beginnings of “Uplifting Grace” painting



“Be Not Afraid” in progress


More layers of pigment being applied


Working on several paintings at a time


Watching a white hibiscus plant unfold


. . . . and open towards the light


White foam after the waves would break across the shore over silver and golden light


Recalling the foam over light as another layer of pigment is applied


Watching “grace” over golden light dry


Tide pools as cups of grace


Grace spilling into “tide pools” (work in progress)


Grace clouds


Grace clouds finding its way into the work


Morning light following me into the work


More works being developed


The golden light of eternity in “Forevermore”

Even though the work was created during a very challenging time, it began to take a new direction and speak a message of hope.  These paintings eventually evolved into an exhibition called “Unfolding Grace”.  The title came from another version of the same scripture that encouraged mom (and me).

“Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.” (2 Corinthians 4:16 MSG)


Arriving at Artrue Gallery

I just returned from Taipei, Taiwan where I was privileged to share this message of hope through 34 works from the past year.  Working with Artrue has been such a blessing as the gallery owner Ginny Chien, curator Virginia Chang and the rest of the staff have encouraged and supported me and my wife Sue throughout the journey.  I was humbled and privileged that dear family and friends also made the long trek to celebrate with us.  Least to say it was an incredible experience that I will never forget.  I thank God for bringing it all together and healing my broken heart along the way, my wife Sue for her undying love and support (couldn’t have done this without you), Andrew and Lillian Miao for being angels to us, all the help I got with building the shipping crates (Mante, Irwin, Uncle Bonie, Larry) and the countless prayers from friends and family.  Mahalo nui!!



Working with Virginia as the crew unpack the artwork.


Working on the floor plan . . .




. . . as the crew start to hang the paintings.


Exhibition announcement


Beautiful flowers for the opening


Opening day


Sharing at 1 of 5 artists talks with Vincent translating.




Our art angels Andrew and Lillian Miao


Owner Ginny Chien (center) and some of the staff of Artrue



Teaching our friends the shaka sign (hang loose).


Thank you everyone for coming!!  Back row l to r: Ida, Andrew, Herbert, Gabriele, Lei, Calee, Sue, Delro, Irwin, Beth, Aileen, John, Ronnie.  Back row l to r: Mao, Masaki, Lillian, Mante, Ginny, Garret, Sako, Julie.


Thanks for everything Sue!  Love you.

The exhibition will be up until January 6, 2018 or you can view it here on Artsy:


Love you and miss you so much mom.