Award-winning Chinese brush painting artist inspires students

Nora Abou-Dabous and Matt Johnson

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Award-winning Chinese brush painting artist inspires students

BROOKE HOLLAND, Features Editor

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Surrounded by the sweet-smelling fragrance of lemon and orange trees, light pink and yellow orchids fill a local Santa Barbara artist’s garden.

Suemae Willhite, City College art instructor, turns on soothing Zen instrumental music to enlighten her imagination. Her ideas are inspired from nature’s beauty and spiritual peace.

Before painting, Willhite relaxes her mind, body and spirit with meditation or T’ai Chi. This routine begins her creative process of Chinese brush painting and calligraphy.

Creative blood runs in Willhite’s family. Her grandfather was a well-known artist in Taiwan.

Willhite uses multiple bamboo brushes and colorful Chinese chip colors in her art. She paints traditional Asian subjects such as flowers, animals, landscape and bamboo.

She is an award-winning painter who has studied Chinese brush painting and calligraphy for over 40 years.

Willhite was awarded honorable mention for her hummingbird and orchid painting at the 2014 Santa Barbara International Orchid Show.

When she’s not painting in her free time, Willhite teaches meditation, brush painting and basic Chinese calligraphy for the City College Center for Life Long Learning. She also combined her Bachelor of Arts in advertising with her passion and created her own business.

Willhite’s original paintings are displayed at local art festivals, restaurants and in the administration office of the City College Wake Campus.

When practicing this art form, her mind, heart and hand are in accord.

Willhite’s next art display will be at the Santa Barbara Fair & Expo on Wednesday, April 23, though Sunday, April 27.

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