Sunday, January 25, 2009


A couple of days ago I was exchanging emails with some friends about the twelve western signs of the zodiac and the twelve astrological animals of the eastern calendar. Our conversation led me to mention a watercolor project I was involved in ten years ago which took me three years to complete. It was called EAST MEETS WEST. It was the brainchild of our famous local patron/collector of the arts Ruth Hoffman. The website, books, posters and notecards were beautifully designed by her sister Joanne Mell (available in the San Diego Art Institute store

Along with five other artists (including my wife Stephanie), I illustrated 31 out of 144 imaginative depictions of the various Eastern and Western signs combined.

Each watercolor is full of various symbols represented by minerals, plants, flowers, planets, constellations, symbols, colors etc. Other than being asked to include these symbols, we were all given free reign to let our imaginations fly. FUN!!!!

Most people know a lot about the twelve western astrological signs but very little about the eastern animals. Here is the story of the birth of the twelve eastern astrological years. If you want to know more, please go to

The Story of the Eastern Astrological Years

One day the jade emperor, ruler of the heavens and the cosmos, realized he knew little of the earth and the wondrous creatures who lived there. He summoned his chief advisor and asked to meet the animals of this rich kingdom. “Too many to pass through heaven’s gate,” he was told. The emperor decided to meet twelve of the most interesting. Those who served humanity and were beautiful or clever were determined to be of most interest, so the advisor set out to make the selection.

After pondering his choices, the advisor issued twelve summons. At the appointed hour all but the Cat made their appearance; as it happened the Rat, one of the first chosen, liked the Cat but was jealous of its beauty and so gave the wrong appointed time. The Cat overslept and the jade emperor was furious at its lack of manners. He sent his advisor to earth to find the first animal he saw. That’s how the Pig, in a basket on the way to market, was chosen to substitute for the Cat.

Once assembled at heaven’s gate, the animals clustered and jockeyed to be first in line. The Rat, both wily and charming but small, began to fret at his chances of being first. Just as the gates were to open, it jumped on the Ox’s nose and began to play the fiddle. The ploy worked, the emperor was delighted and the rat was admitted first. The Ox, who had born the affront with good humor and patience, was admitted second. And one by one the rest of the animals were put in order according to their appearance, their attributes, and their beauty. The lucky dozen and their positions: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Ram, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.

If none of these images represent your combined Eastern and Western sign,
please go to and find your own. Please scroll down as fast or slow as you like and enjoy three unique years of my painting career.