A Brush with Emptiness and the Art of Being Embodied

1032. The Empty Heart FINAL
1637G. I vow to set endless heartaches to rest FINAL
1180. TrustingHeart w frame resized. FINALjpg
tiffany mountains (1)
alok and tiffani


A Brush with Emptiness and the Art of Being Embodied
with Alok Hsu Kwang-han and Tiffani Gyatso
Oct. 4-6, 2019

Alok and Tiffani will guide us to return to the natural embodiment of our creative intelligence prior to thought. They will inspire us to become intimate and comfortable with not knowing and to give space for the communion of our body-brush to dance from emptiness. No prior experience with painting or with Zen is necessary.

Each morning Tiffani will lead us in a one-hour meditation that combines movement, stillness, and awareness. Relaxing deeply and resting in a spacious presence that is naturally joyful, we become more available to being “present, available, playful and not-knowing”, our methodless-method of Zen creativity. Throughout the workshop she will guide us through exercises or dance to evolve our art of being embodied.

Then Alok will serve everyone very good tea from his home province in China. The subtle delight and alertness of drinking tea together softly strengthens our collective energy field that holds us aware and safe and prepares us for the adventure of painting by “resting in presence and moving from emptiness.”

We paint, from “emptiness”, mainly empty of the control and direction of the ego self and its false sense of security! Repeatedly we discover when the separate self is not holding forth, creativity happens on its own! “I” don’t have to “do” it. Instead of looking for a vision of what to paint and how to paint it, we become aware of a “readiness” in our embodied presence. When that’s there we allow the body-brush to move from emptiness.

In quick succession, so we don’t have time to think and return automatically to habitual and unconscious patterns of thinking and behavior, Alok and Tiffani may ask us to paint “My house burnt down, I can see the moon.” or “God has only four words, come dance with me!” or “When great calamity arrives, how shall we respond?” and Zhao Zhou replied, “Welcome!”, or a goofy school song that we would sing together, or a dance that dances us, or some suffering that we all share. Or something else that occurs to us arising out of our being together in this workshop, in Sedona, on this planet, in this universe. Successive paintings later we come to realize we are the art!

Through painting from emptiness, we discover new ways of thinking and approach to life. We take time to share our paintings in gentle and humorous ways as we learn from and with each other.

Alok Teaching Zen Creativity and the Art of Life from Alok Hsu Kwang-han on Vimeo.

TUITION: $650 (includes a set of materials for each student to keep)

Payment Options: Students may pay in full or choose the payment-plan option during registration. The payment plan requires a non-refundable $125 deposit with the balance due 30 days before the first day of the workshop.

Alok Hsu Kwang-han and Tiffani Gyatso

Alok Hsu Kwang-han and Tiffani Gyatso

Alok Hsu Kwang-han

Alok Hsu Kwang-han is a highly original Zen calligraphic painter from China. His creations are a striking synthesis of the beauty of Chinese calligraphy, the spontaneity and simplicity of Zen, and the evolution of Western Psychotherapy. In his workshops, Alok teaches Zen as art through the methodless-method of “resting in presence and moving from emptiness.”

Education: Alok obtained from American universities academic degrees in mathematics, Christian theology, sociology and psychology of religion. He has taught sociology of religion and psychology of transcendence and in China translated and published 20 books on meditation. Alok journeyed to India 20 times for his personal spiritual evolution, during which he also explored the integration of Western psychotherapy with Eastern spiritual practice in the context of various cultural and societal assumed truths.

Exhibitions: Alok has exhibited at the National Ethnographic Museum in Sweden, the Great Hall of Exhibition in Shanghai, The Seattle Art Museum, Goldenstein Gallery in Sedona, Arizona, and many other venues.

Calligraphic Portraits: Alok has evolved a singular work of creating Zen Calligraphic Portraits combined with exploration sessions for individuals, couples, families, and organizations. He began in 1974 and has completed more than 1,500 such works of “living art” around the world.

Motorcycling to Tibet: In the summer of 1986 he rode a motorcycle by himself to Tibet from his hometown, Kunming, China. In the most dangerous places he found he wasn’t afraid but had a sense of delight. It’s this sense of adventure he brings to painting from emptiness.

Workshops: In Sweden, Alok taught a segment of a psychotherapist training called, “Creativity and the Emptiness of the Self”. He has taught workshops at Konstfack in Sweden, the Seattle Asian Art Museum, the Humaniversity in Holland, Naropa University in Boulder, CO, with Persons of Good Fortune in Taiwan, at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY, and at 1440 Multiversity in Santa Cruz, CA. In 2019, beginning his 8th decade on this earth, he has consolidated all his workshops into one annual workshop at the Sedona Arts Center in Sedona, Arizona. This year he will co-teach “A Brush with Emptiness and the art of Embodiment” with Tiffani Gyatso from Brazil, who’s embodiment of feminine energy and competence would complement his being the “Zen Dude”. (See her bio below.)

Individual Tutorial Retreats: Since 2015, at his home studio in Sedona, Arizona, Alok teaches 5-day one-on-one tutorial retreats for select artists.

“Moving from Emptiness, the Life and Art of a Zen Dude” is a feature documentary about Alok made by Shaeri Richards and Jerry Hartleben,This film is required viewing for the workshop. available from Alive Mind Cinema: https://alivemindcinema.com/film/movingfromemptiness

Alok is currently completing a book titled, “A Brush with Emptiness: Zen Creativity and the Art of Life and Death”.
Alok’s website: www.zencalligraphy.com.

How Tiffani met Alok and became his Co-teacher:
Tiffani had been looking for a teacher who could guide her to combine her artistic endeavors with her spiritual quest. She discovered Alok and came to Sedona for a tutorial retreat with him in 2015. Alok saw Tiffani’s capacity for the authentic fusion of art and spirit and wanted to provide opportunities for her to be in the same time and space with him. Tiffani was invited by Alok to assist him at his 2018 workshop at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY.

There Alok noticed many of the women in the workshop were not free in their movement and their unconscious embodiment of the ego-self was preventing them from allowing the brush to move freely. He also saw the natural joy and freedom in Tiffani being embodied as an ecstatic dance and as a silent presence. So, on the spot, he asked Tiffani to lead the group in an exercise about this. Here is a short video of her demonstrating the exercise she designed:

Seeing Tiffani’s magnificence and effectiveness as a teacher, Alok immediately invited her to co-teach his next workshop, the one at the Sedona Arts Center, Oct. 4-6, 2019.

Tiffani Gyatso

Tiffani Gyatso is a Brazilian artist born in 1981 in the mountains surrounded by nature in an intentional community her parents had built. From an early age, she was blessed with travel and extraordinary exposure to the cultures of the world. She lived with an aboriginal tribe in northern Australia, also on a sailing boat near the island of Ilhabela. In her late teens, she went on a VW bus journey through Europe, Russia and Mongolia. In Mongolia she was deeply touched by thangka painting, the sacred iconography of Tibetan Buddhism.

Her passion and determination enabled her to immerse herself in thangka painting. At age 22, she was the first foreigner accepted to study thangka at the Norbulingka Institute founded by the 14th Dalai Lama in Dharmsala, India. Following this study, she was commissioned to paint the traditional murals for an entire Tibetan temple (CEBB) in the south of Brazil – a five year project.

Today Tiffani also has evolved a rich vein of contemporary artistic expression based on the intuitive and contemplative process as well as the Slow Art approach, which she developed based on body awareness, movement and contemplative arts.

In 2015, after many years of seeking a teacher who would guide her spiritual mastery through the mastery of art, Tiffani found Alok Hsu Kwang-han and came to Sedona, Arizona for an immersion tutorial retreat with him. His approach deepened a flow between her spiritual and creative energies, a linking and merging she had been yearning for. This approach now “guides the heart of her brushes”. Here is a video Tiffani made of her time with Alok:

The first workshop Tiffani co-teaches with Alok happens Oct. 4-6, 2019, at the Sedona Arts Center.

In 2017, Tiffani founded Atelier YabYum, a studio, school and retreat center in the mountains of Sao Paulo. She teaches all over Brazil and South America, giving lectures on traditional thangka painting, and conducts immersions in creating art, self- expression and art therapy. Recently she has added the presence of horses to her Intuitive Painting workshops, where participants can connect in a deeper level with their fears and joys, and transform their lives and their art in powerful and creative ways. Tiffani is also a co-founder of Mystic Art Retreats® which produces art retreats that combine travel, culture, art and spirituality.
Tiffani’s website: www.tiffanigyatso.com

High quality Chinese xuan paper, liquid ink, a set of 3 natural hair brushes designed by Alok are provided, along with porcelain ink mixing bowls and a wool felt cloth used to reflect the ink and water back into the paper for the blotting effect.  These materials are all that is needed, beyond your creative energies, and are the property of the student to take home after class.

“Moving from Emptiness, the Life and Art of a Zen Dude” is a feature documentary about Alok made by Shaeri Richards and Jerry Hartleben, available from Alive Mind Cinema:


This film is required viewing for the workshop.

Alok is currently completing a book titled,
“A Brush with Emptiness: Zen Creativity and the Art of Life and Death”.

See Alok’s website: www.zencalligraphy.com

“Moving from Emptiness: The Life and Art of a Zen Dude” TRAILER from Mother Tree Films on Vimeo.

At the beginning of each day, Alok and Tiffani will guide the group through a playful and energetic whole-body meditative session.  For this experience, a yoga mat, meditation cushion or chair, and a blanket can be helpful.  All these materials will be provided, but you are also welcome to bring your own.

Cancellation Policy

Registration Information:

Each student must register individually.  Students may pay in full or choose the payment-plan option during registration. The payment plan requires a non-refundable $125 deposit with the balance due 30 days before the first day of the workshop. There are no refunds after the 30-day final payments have been made.  Students may enroll online or by calling the Sedona Arts Center’s Administrative Offices in the Art Barn toll-free at 888-954-4442 or locally at 928-282-3809.  Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express are accepted or student may pay with cash or check by registering in person during office hours at the Art Barn (M-F, 9-5).

Cancellation Policy:                                       

The $125 deposit is non-refundable; the balance is due one month before the first day of the workshop. No refunds after the one-month cut-off date. If paying in full upon registration, $125 of the total tuition fee is non-refundable.  The Sedona Arts Center is not responsible for providing make-up sessions or issuing refunds, credits, or transfers for courses missed as a result of illness, emergencies, or other events beyond our control.  There are absolutely no refunds after the 30 day cut-off date for any reason, unless the Sedona Arts Center has to cancel the workshop, then all fees paid will be refunded in full.

The course was a delight; it moved me in so many ways. I consider the whole experience a breakthrough in my development and my search. Karl Martens Sweden, 2018

I will never experience art in the same way again. I will have a more emotional, physical and spiritual involvement. My brush will come alive! Cheryl Blakeslee Sedona AZ, 2012

I feel blessed that I had the opportunity to learn from Alok. And I do not say that lightly or easily. He is many things – genuine and brilliant. Lisa Albin, Rhinebeck, NY 2012

An amazing journey with a true master. I bring home an open heart, a new found vulnerability followed by a sense of courage and Lightness of being. Well, I guess even an INCREDIBLE stubborn person like myself can change her beliefs. So, I am an artist. And I like having my paintings on the walls so people can see them!!!, Lisen, Sundgren, NY, NY, 2010

Alok’s leadership in the workshop is like a feather, like a shovel. The workshop was deeply transformative and fun. Susan Shaw, Rhinebeck, NY 2012

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am going to take the notion of non-doing and teach my students how to get out of their own way – and then create and be happy! Kelly Skinner Rhinebeck, NY 2012

Dearest Alok, After attending your workshop for the first time, on returning to my daily 'practice' of painting there was a sense that there would be a 'before Alok' and an 'after Alok'! It has been a profound experience. After the 2nd workshop, on returning to my studio, the front of my body tingled as though I were entering a bright open meadow after the delight of the woods. What fun. What joy in a fresh kind of freedom. Your workshops are clear, simple and profound. I'm grateful to you and bow to your generous heart. Liz Shepherd Ashland, OR