The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

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Award-winning Chinese brush painting artist inspires students

Local Santa Barbara resident Suemae Willhite is an award-winning artist with over 40 years of experience in Chinese calligraphy and brush painting.

Colorful orchids in her backyard provide a visual source of inspiration for her art

Most of her work is made in her home studio.

“I began my journey in Chinese calligraphy at about age eight years old and training Calligraphy, [by] watching my grandfather practice in calligraphy everyday. I actually had an awakening when I went on a walk at the beach. One day I heard an inner voice speaking to me, [it] said, ‘I’m going to redeem your heritage and reclaim your identity.’ That’s when I woke up,” Willhite, art instructor said.

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In addition to learning from her grandfather she was trained by a Japanese princess.

The Chinese consider brush painting to be one of the highest forms of art.

Each dynamic brush stroke is a defining move that creates a symbolic expression.

Suemae uses at least three different bamboo brushes in her work and never paints over the same place twice.

Suemae teaches meditation, brush painting and basic Chinese calligraphy for the Santa Barbara City College Continuing Education Division.

Student paint traditional Asian subjects such as bamboo.

“Suemae is like a messenger from Taiwan because she has taught us most of her culture and the teachings of her culture. Also she has incorporated all of these knowledge’s into her paintings,” Lucy Hennecke, student said.

She combined her Bachelor of Arts in advertising with her passion and created her own business.

For more information about her work, visit:

“I love teaching and I will not give it up until [I’m] probably 100 years old,” Willhite said.

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