Karst Formations Near Guilin, China March 15, 2010

I've learned to seek out masters to teach me about the Zen of art.

I once studied for a few years with a Russian Armenian Master Artist named Ovanes Berberian, (who chuckled at the fact that I sometimes paint at night on location).

One of the things he encouraged me to do is try to paint the effect of luminosity of lightning in clouds. When the master suggests something to me, I do my best to follow up and follow through with the suggestion.

Now, I don't remember how that large canvas came to me, but it was my intention to take it, stretch it, and do an extraordinary painting to please my master.

After I stretched the canvas, it stayed on my studio wall for a month or two while I charted my approach to this problem. I was unclear about how to do it. Then one day I was at Specialty Photo in Santa Barbara, when I looked on the wall and saw an image on a calender, by a master photographer named John Sexton. The image was of a landscape, somewhere in China; of Karst formations.

The way it was lit was extraordinary. It could have been done by Ansel Adams! I was intrigued enough to order a calender for myself; just for this one image alone.

After that, became sort of an obsession; to find out more about this place. I eventually found the location on a map, then curiosity arose in me and I researched into the Flying Tigers. I learned the fact that they had a base right in the neighborhood of where this photo was taken!

A light went on in my head; an inner voice screamed at me that this was what I was to do next! I knew I needed to paint this painting of the Flying Tigers and dedicate it to the A.V.G.

So now the question was, How was I going to do it? I hadn't a clue.

Karst Formations Near Guilin, China
Photograph by John Sexton