This first spring that I was using oils, I arranged some apple branches in this Chinese vase and decided to paint a “still life” (or in this case, a “still alive”). This richly-textured painting was done during my martial arts phase. I was a third-degree black belt in Taekwondo and winner of three national gold medals in sparring, and occasionally used Kanji characters to add messages to the work. On this painting they read, “At the foot of a lighthouse it is dark. Be gentle with yourself and others.” (I should have added, “or I’ll kick ass”.) This powerful piece is both Zen and energized with impasto brushstrokes on the background and foreground which offset the serenity of the blossoms.