I finished a pencil sketch of self-portrait  on April 7, 2009, and the result encouraged me to do more pencil sketch of portraits.  So, I decided to start the new project with Princess Diana because I saw her small photo on a magazine cover on my book shelf.

1.  Princess Diana (1961 – 1997)

Against all odds, the British Princess Diana embraced the plight of soceity’s so-called “untouchables” such as:  Sick and handicapped children, the homeless, battered women, victims of terminal disease and victims of anti-personnel landmines.

She will forever be remembered for her charitable efforts, her promotion of equality, and her devotion to her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry.


2.  Venerable Master Sheng-Yen (1930 –  2009)

Venerable Master Sheng-Yen was a Chan Master, Educator, Environmentalist, and Builder of Pure Land on Earth.  Master Sheng-Yen started his teaching of Chan Buddhism in the West since 1976.  He spent half of his time in Taiwan and the other half in USA, Canada and other countries. Master Sheng-Yen was a third generation descendant of Venerable Grandmaster Hsu-Yun.  (Note No. 1) 

The renowned scholar and teacher of Chan Buddhism  was the founder of  Dharma Drum Retreat Center and Dharma Drum Mountain  throughout many countries, and his footprints spread around the world.  Master Sheng-Yen was widely recognized as one of the foremost contemporary Buddhist  teachers.  In spite of his significant accomplishments, the Master retained a humble manner, insisting that he was just an ordinary person living a monastic life.

During a Youth Leadership Retreat held in the Dharma Drum Retreat Center in Pine Bush, New York, in 2007, Master Sheng-Yen offered the following wisdom:

—  Many people have an erroneous view about things, thinking that happiness comes with material comforts.

—  When we are at peace in our mind and we are not generating conflict, then we can truly begin to help others attain peace and eliminate conflict.

—  By keeping ourselves out of poverty, not just material poverty but also spiritual poverty, we can then cultivate a mind less motivated by greed.  We will be able to find contentment with what we already have.  We learn to cultivate a mind of  contentment.

—  And when we do not crave so much, we are then ready to contribute and share with everyone else.

—  Those who feel that they cannot share with others, they are still in poverty, spiritual poverty.  As long as there is much spiritual poverty, people will still continue to suffer and be unhappy.

—  Along with helping to alleviate material poverty, we should help others to cultivate spiritual contentment, to eliminate the poverty of the spirit.

“Follow the stream, have faith in its course.”  “The Universe may one day perish, yet my vows are eternal.”  “If you have never failed, you have never tried.,” said  Master Sheng-Yen.

The followers of Master Sheng-Yen will continue to tread on his path and to fulfill his great compassionate vows, bringing health, peace, bliss and happiness to all beings.

(Note No. 1:  Venerable Grandmaster Hsu-Yun (“Empty Cloud”) (1840-1959) was a renowned Chinese Chanmaster and one of the most influential Buddhist teachers of the 19th and 20th centuries.)

(Spring Liao, 4/12/09)


3.  Mother Teresa (1910 – 1997)

Mother Teresa was beloved by the world for her tireless efforts and service to millions of the poor, the outcast, the ill and the dying.  In the half-century of her public life, she visited and spoke in more than one hundred countries about the subjects closest to her heart.

In 1979, Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and she accepted the award in the name “of all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society.”

Mother Teresa said:

“Peace begins with a smile.”

“We cannot grow up without love, so we must continuously give away our love and help.”

“Love is not donation.  Kindness is love, not pity.

“All works of love are works of peace.”

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.”

“If you want to make peace, you don’t talk to your friends.  You talk to your enemies.”

“I see God in every human being.  When I wash the leper’s wounds, I feel I am nursing the Lord himself.  Is it not a beautiful experience?”

“The poor give us much more than we give them.  They’re such strong people, living day to day with no food.  And, they never curse, never complain.  We don’t have to give them pity or sympathy.  We have so much to learn from them.”

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

“The fruit of silence is prayer; the fruit of prayer is faith; the fruit of faith is love; the fruit of love is service; and the fruit of service is peace.”

Pope John Paul II Said:

“Mother Teresa marked the history of our century with courage.  She served all human beings by promoting their dignity and respect, and made those who had been defeated by life feel the tenderness of God.”


4.  Pope John Paul II (1920 – 2005)

Pope John Paul II was head of the Catholic Church for nearly 27 years.  During that time, Pope John Paul II held a great influence over world affairs.  He travelled to more places in the world and spoke to more people than any other pontiff in the history of the Roman Catholic Church.

Pope John Paul II was widely acclaimed as one of the most influential leaders of the twentieth century.  He has been credited with being instrumental in bringing down communism in Eastern Europe, as well as significantly improving the relations with other religions.

He revolutionized the modern papacy.  Where previous pontiffs remained distant, never straying far from the Vatican, John Paul maintained a busy travel schedule.  He completed 102 pastoral visits outside of Italy, and 144 within, visiting almost 130 countries during his time as Pope.   He was fluent in many languages: his native Polish as well as  nine other languages.  He is referred to as Pope John Paul II The Great and he will forever be remembered as the Pilgrim Pope.

Pope John Paull II said,  “To reach peace, teach peace.”

(Spring Liao, 4/13/09)


5.  Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948)

Mahatma Gandhi, known as Mahatma “Great Soul” Gandhi, was an Indian national leader.  His campaign of non-violent civil resistance to British rule led to India’s independence.  According to Gandhi’s teachings on satyagraha, or “truth force,” inner transformation is the key to social change.  The power of “satyagraha” is what the world needs to solve the crisis of global warming.

The non-violent power of satyagraha inspired one of the most powerful social movements the world has ever known, the Indian struggle for independence led  by Mahatma Gandhi.  Today, we need the same power of satyagraha, or truth force, as we confront the seemingly intractable problem of climate change.

Gandhi taught that when another person’s welfare means more to you than your own, when his or her life means more to you than even your own, then you are pushing at the boundaries of consciousness.  Gandhi said, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”  It deeply suggests the possibility that if we can transform ourselves — our own consciousness and our personal relations with the environment and with each other — then we can tap the power of truth needed to overcome the obstacles to a sustainable future.

The same Gandhian methods can be applied to healing environmental violence:  personally face the truth, open our awareness, change our consciousness, and act accordingly in the world. The climate movement has much to learn from Gandhi.   Gandhi said:

“For me, nonviolence is not a mere philosophical principle.  It rules my life.  It’s the rule and breath of my life.  It is a matter not of the intellect but of the heart.”

“Life is an aspiration.  Its mission is to strive for perfection, which is self-realization.  The ideal must not be lowered because of our weaknessnes or imperfections.”

“Every man has an equal right to the necessities of life, even as birds and beasts have.”

“Each one has to find his peace from within.  And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances.”

“All the great religions of the world include the equality and brotherhood of mankind and the virtue of toleration.”

“If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.”

“The highest morality is to serve people constantly and work for human love.”


6.  Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 – 1968)

 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a U.S.A. civil rights leader and clergyman.  His non-violent demonstrations against racial inequality led to civil rights legislation.  He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

In December of 1955, Dr. Martin Luther King accepted the leadership of the first great Negro non-violent demonstration of contemporary times in the United States.  In 1957, he was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization formed to provide new leadership for the growing civil rights movement.  This organization inherited its operational techniques from Gandhi.

In the eleven-year period between 1957 and 1968, King traveled over six million miles and spoke over twenty-five hundred times, appearing wherever there was injustice, protest, and action; and meanwhile he wrote five books as well as numerous articles.  He directed the peaceful march on Washington, D.C., of 250,000 people to whom he delivered his address, “I Have a Dream.”  He was awarded five honorary degrees, was named “Man of the Year” by Time magazine in 1963; and became not only the symbolic leader of American blacks but also a world figure.  At the age of thirty-five, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said:

“If there is to be peace on earth and good will toward man we must finally believe in the ultimate morality of the universe and believe that all reality hinges on moral foundations.”

“One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal.  We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means.”

“True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”

“Peace is more important than all justice; and peace was not made for the sake of justice, but justice for the sake of peace.”

“The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplinced nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.”

(Spring Liao, 4/15/09)


7.  Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy (1929 – 1994)

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy was a U.S.A. First Lady.  She married John K. Kennedy in 1953 and as First Lady (1961 – 1963) she became an international celebrity and style-setter.  Her great dignity after her husband’s assassination increased public admiration for her.

Jacqueline Kennedy throughout her life sought to preserve and protect America’s cultural heritage.  You can see the results of her hard work when you walk through Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C.  While she was First Lady, she helped to stop the destruction of Lafayette Square because she knew that these buildings were an important part of the nation’s capital and played an essential role in its history.  Later in New York City, she led a campaign to save and renovate Grand Central Station, a beautiful, historic railroad station.

Many people will always remember how she captivated the attention of this nation and the rest of the world with her intelligence, beauty, and grace.  With a deep sense of devotion to her family and country, she dedicated herself to raising her children and to making the world a better place through art, literature, and a respect for history.


8.   Elvis Aron Presley (1935 – 1977)

Elvis Aron Presley, known as The King, was a U.S.A. singer and actor.   He was renowned as The King  of Rock and Roll.  He also acted in 33 Hollywood films.  With a sound and style that uniquely combined his diverse musical influence and challenged the social and racial barriers of the time, he usherred in a whole new era of American music and popular culture.

Globally,  he has sold over one billion records, more than any other artist.  His American sales have earned him gold, plantinum or multi-plantinum awards for 150 different albums and singles, far more than any other artist.  He received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement at age 36, and he was named One of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Nation for 1970 by the United States Jaycees.

His talent,  good looks, charisma, and good humor endeared him to millions, as did the humility and human kindness he demonstrated throughout his life.  Elvis was regarded as one of the most important figures of  twentieth century popular culture.

(Spring Liao, 4/20/09)


9.  Ronald Wilson Reagan (1911 – 2004)

Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States (1981 – 1989) and the 33rd Governor of California (1967 – 1975).  As president, Reagan implemented bold new political and economic initiatives.  In his first term he survived an assassination attempt.  He was reelected in a landslide in 1984.   At the end of his administration, the Nation was enjoying its longest recorded period of peacetime prosperity without recession or depression.  Reagan felt that he had fulfilled his campaign pledge of 1980 to restore “the great, confident roar of American progress and growth and optimism.”  He ranks highly among former U.S. presidents in terms of approval rating.

Reagan said:

“Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.”

” We will always remember we will always be proud.  We will always be prepared, so we may always be free.”

“I know in my heart that man is good, that what is right will always eventually triumph and that there is purpose and worth to each and every life.”

At the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum located in beautiful Simi Valley, California, the visitors will learn about the 40th President of the United States and his enduring legacy of leadership.

(Spring Liao, 5/11/09)


10.  Paul Newman (1925 – 2008)

Paul Newman was a good man, an Oscar-winning actor, a great family man, a devoted husband, a race-car driver, and a great humanitarian.

To watch Newman, from his 20s into his late 70s, is to see an actor wrestling with the definition of American manhood in the 20th century.  What does it mean to be a good son, an honorable husband, a sensitive father, a caring lover, and an honest man?

Newman always had a sense of humor about what he was doing no matter how dark it was.  His humanity always shone through.  Newman believed that we provide our own destiny, that we just have to do good, and we have to think well, and we have to be concerned about people who have less than we have.  He put together his own conscience with his fame.

Newman himself often modestly credited his success to “just being in the right place at the right time.  His life will forever inspire many of us.

(Spring Liao, 5/15/09)


11.  Bruce Lee (1940 – 1973)

Bruce Lee was an actor and an extraordinary martial artist.  He shattered Asian screen stereotypes and made a lasting mark on popular culture worldwide.  He changed the world with a fist.

Lee is the fourth child and was born in San Francisco, California, in 1940.  Lee’s parents and their three children moved from Hong Kong to the United States in 1939.  Lee’s mother gave birth to Bruce Lee while on tour in San Francisco.

Lee‘s mother called him “Bruce,” which means “strong one” in Gaelic.  Bruce Lee’s Chinese name means “young dragon.”  Young Bruce appeared in his first film at the age of three months when he served as the stand-in for an American baby in Golden Gate Girl.

In 1941, The Lees family moved back to Hong Kong.  Apparently a natural in front of the camera,  Lee appeared in about 20 films as a child actor, beginning 1946.  Lee‘s parents sent him to martial arts school, where he experienced prejudice because of his mother’s German heritage.  Despite this, he diligently pursued his training.  He also studied dance.

After he got trouble for street fights, at age 18, Lee’s father sent him back to the United States to live with family friends outside Seattle, Washington.  Lee finished high school, and then enrolled as a philosophy major at the University of Washington.  He also got a job teaching the Wing Chuan Style of martial arts that he had learned in Hong Kong to his fellow students and others.  He soon developed his own style, which incorporated weight training, running, and stretching.

Through his teaching, he met his future wife and married in 1964.  By that time, Lee had opened his own martial arts school in Seattle.  He and his wife soon moved to California, where Lee opened two more schools in Los Angeles and Oakland.

Lee added philosophy, western boxing, and fencing to the traditional Kung-Fu, and he created a new style which he called “Jeet Kune Do” (in Cantonese), or “Jie Chuan Dao.” (in Chinese Mandarin).   Lee’s new style concentrated on “practicality, flexibility, speed, and efficiency.”   In Chinese, “Jie” means cut, sever, or stop.  “Chuan” means fist.  And, “Dao” means  the way.

At his schools, Lee taught mostly his new style of “Jeet Kune Do” or “Jie Chuan Dao.”   In 1971, Lee, his wife and two children left Los Angeles for Hong Kong, where he was accepted as a star.  His feature films became successful all over Asia, and in 1972 he finally got his chance to star in a US film when Warner Brothers gave him the starring role  in “Enter the Dragon.”    The film’s success skyrocketed Lee‘s fame in the US and Europe, but he never had a chance to enjoy his fame, as he died before the film’s release in 1973.  (Note:  Hong Kong residents speak Cantonese which is a regional language.)

Lee blazed across movie screens with charisma and lightning speed, introducing martial arts to mainstream America and the whole world, changing the way Asian American men  were portrayed in films.  He broke down the rigid structures of the traditional martial arts with his new style of “Jeet Kune Do,” or “Jie Chuan Dao.”

Lee frequently faced opposition and criticism for his unconventional style of martial arts, often being challenged to duels and even rumored to being targeted by some powerful gang members.  Speculation and controversy surrounded his mysterious death in Hong Kong.

Lee wanted life to be an exciting adventure.  Despite his many setbacks, he was able to pick himself up and keep going.  While Lee was willing to work twice as hard as anyone else to achieve his goals, he didn’t have a choice about doing so.  His “luck” came through effort.  Lee succeeded in transforming himself from a troubled teenager to a world-wide star.  Much of Lee‘s success came through teaching his art.  Lee‘s success paved the way for Jackie Chan and other Asians who followed him.

Lee lives on as one of the most influential martial artists of the 20th century and a Chinese American icon.

Bruce Lee said:

“Lao-Tzu  pointed to us the value of gentleness.  Contrary to common belief, the Yin principle, as softness and pliability, is to be associated with life and survival.  Because he can yield, a man can survive.  In contrast, the Yang principle which is assumed to be rigorous and hard, makes a man break under pressure.  Notice that stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survive by bending with the wind.”

(Spring Liao, 5/21/09)


12.  Michael Jackson (Aug 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009)


Michael Jackson, referred to as the “King of Pop,” was an American singer, songwriter, dancer, entertainer, showman and philanthropist.  Before  Michael Jackson came Elvis Presley and the Beatles; after him has come absolutely no one.  Jackson was the greatest showman on earth, a wonderful legend, and music icon.

Michael Jackson made his first formal public appearance on the professional music scene at the age of five, as the youngest member  and eventual leader of The Jackson 5. The group scored four consecutive number-one pop singles in 1969-70, each with sales of more than a million records: “I Want You Back,” “ABC,” “The Love You Save,” and “I’ll Be There.”

Michael Jackson recorded his first solo album Got To Be There  in 1971.  As the Jackson 5 faded in popularity, Jackson left the group and teamed with producer Quincy Jones to create Off the Wall , an album that set new standards in the dance-pop genre.  His greatest success came with the album Thriller, also produced by Jones.

Five of Jackson‘s solo studio albums have become some of the world’s best-selling records:  Off the Wall (1979), Thriller (1982), Bad (1987), Dangerous (1991) and HIStory (1995).  Thriller has remained the biggest selling album of all time with reported sales of 109 million and a Recording Industry Association of America certification of 28 million units. He became one of the few artists to have been inducted into the Rock and  Roll Hall of Fame twice.

Jackson‘s other major achievements include 13 Guinness World Records — including one for “Most Successful Entertainer of All Time” — 19 Grammy Awards, 22 American Music Awards, 12 World Music Awards and the sale of over 750 million units worldwide.

Winning numerous awards for his humanitarian endeavors, Jackson has been honored by two Presidents of the United States.  He has also been named as the artist of  “the Decade,” “Generation”, and “Century,”  and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002. He was the first celebrity to have two stars in the same category in the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one as a member of The Jacksons and another as a solo artist.

In 1984 Jackson was approached to donate “Beat It” as backing music for a commercial on drunk driving.  Jackson agreed and was awarded with an honor from the President of the United States, Ronald Reagan.  Prior to collecting the award, President Reagan sent Jackson a telegram, which read:

“Your deep faith in God and adherence to traditional values are an inspiration to all of us.  You’ve gained quite a number of fans along the road since “I Want You Back” and Nancy and I are among them.  Keep up the good work, Michael.  We’re very happy for you.”

On May 1, 1992, President George H. W. Bush presented Jackson with an award acknowledging him as “A Point of Light Ambassador.”  Jackson received the award in recognition for his efforts in inviting disadvantaged children to his Neverland Ranch.  Jackson was the only entertainer to receive the award.

The following is a collection of Jackson‘s sayings:

“If you enter this world knowing you are loved and you leave this world knowing the same, then everything that happens in between can be dealt with.”

“I always want to do music that influences and inspires each generation.” “Fun inspires me.  Out of bliss comes magic, wonderment and creativity.” (1983)

“I know who I am inside and outside, and I know what I want to do.  And I will always go with my dreams.”  “I don’t force songwriting; I let nature take its course.” (1984)

“I feel compelled to give people some sense of escapism…. I think it’s the reason I am here.” (1984)

“I give my all in my work because I want it to live even after death.”  “To be loved is a wonderful thing…. (But) I’m never puffed up with pride or think I’m better than the next-door neighbor.” (1991)

“Being onstage is magic.  You feel the energy all over your body.” “I just love working hard on something, putting it together, sweating over it and then sharing it with people.” (1993)

“People can always have a judgment about anything you do.  So it doesn’t bother me.  Everything can be strange to someone.”  “There’s a lot of wonderment in being famous.  But you have to put in a lot of your time, give a lot of yourself.” (2002)

Jackson‘s father said:

Michael was the biggest superstar in the world and in history.  He was loved by everybody, whether poor or wealthy, or whatever may be.”

Qunicy Jones, who called Michael “my little brother,” said:

Michael was a different kind of entertainer.  He’d worked for long hours, perfecting every lick, gesture, and movement so that they came together precisely the way they were intended to.”

Michael was a wonderful artist who commanded the stage with catlike grace, shattered recording-industry records, and broke down cultural boundaries around the world, and yet remained the gentlest of souls.”

“Michael had it all…. talent, grace, professionalism, and dedication.  He was the consummate entertainer and his contributions and legacy will be felt upon the world forever.  Michael will always be alive.”

Two days before he collapsed and died, Jackson was onstage rehearsing for his upcoming London shows “This Is It.”  One of Jackson‘s concert staffers watching the rehearsal said:

Jackson‘s  energy was strong, his voice was so beautiful and his dancing was mind-blowing.”

And, another one of his staffers also said:

Jackson did the moon-walk…. everything.  He at one point wore a new ‘Thriller‘ jacket with fiber-optic lights, sang ‘Human Nature’ and classic Jackson 5 tunes, stopping only to redo a line or correct a dancer.”  “It was electrifying.  His feet moved like liquid.  Jackson was truly happy:  He was like, “When are we going to London”  I’m ready.'”

When Jackson touched music and dance, he transformed himself into music and dance. He  was gifted with such great talents that no one can match with, but he was also destined to be famous with an unhappy life full of loneliness, pain and sadness, and was overwhelmed by financial and legal difficulties. Mysteries surrounded Jackson’s shocking death. His passing reminds us of his timeless songs, his groundbreaking performances, and his singular, sensational artistry, which changed the pop culture for the better.

Let’s remember the King of Pop and the greatest entertainer of our lifetime by singing “We Are the World.”  Jackson was the co-writer for “We Are the World” that received an award for Song of the Year in 1985.

“We are the world.

We are the children.

We are the ones who make a brighter day………..

So, let’s start giving.

So, let’s start healing.”

(Spring Liao, 7/2/09)

Michael Jackson  was born under the auspices of  the Full Moon, something which meant that his personality could go to extremes.  He was  a perfectionist, and a tremendously talented and charismatic performer, but he was also a father to his three children.

Michael Jackson had an overabundance of sensitivity through which he positively channeled his artistic and creating side.   His emotionally sensitivity was easily available for all the world to see, and he was a philanthropist who donated many millions of his vast fortune to charity.  The stories of Michael’s kindness to others is legendary, especially his opening the doors of Neverland, his vast estate, to disadvantaged and sick children.

Michael Jackson had an abusive father, and a kind and helpful mentor, Quincy Jones, who helped him develop his own talents and gain his independence as an adult.  And, he had his own children, to whom he was reported a good and a caring father.

It often occurred to children from abusive background, just like Michael Jackson, that biology plays a relatively small role in forming positive parental relationship.  Parents and children can and do bond together without biological ties, and it may be that Michael was extremely open to adopting children or to obtaining them by surrogate mothers, due to his own troubled relationship with his biological father.

Michael’s three children, Prince, Paris and Blanket, formed the hub of his life in his later years, and provided him with much joy, particularly as his career hit rough spots and he encountered legal difficulties and lawsuits.  Michael  Jackson showed strong ties to all his three children. Paris delivered an emotional remembrance of her Dad at his memorial service which took place on the morning of a lunar eclipse on July 7, 2009.

Michael Jackson died tragically of cardiac arrest after an overdose of propofol, a drug that was administered to him intravenously to help him sleep.  Despite the drug dependency that ended his life, and the many other problems that littered his path to fame, he appears to have made a conscious effort not to repeat the mistakes of his father with his own children, and in that he does seem to have succeed.

(Spring Liao, 11/24/09)


15.  My Beloved Parents – Mr. & Mrs. Fu-Lo Wang

The other day my older sister called me and said that she dreamed of our beloved parents.  In her dream we were happily together enjoying our Mom’s cooking.  Then, she suggested me to do a drawing of our beloved parents.  Here is my drawing of our beloved parents.

(Spring Liao, 7/13/09)




Pencil Sketch and Colored-Pencil Drawing of Buddha Statues

In the third century B.C.E., as Buddhism spread to different countries, Buddha images changed in style, making them relevant to people of different culture.  In China and  Japan, for examples, the faces of the Buddhas have oriental features.  Likewise, there are experiments in the west to make Buddha images with western faces.  The point is not to make definite historical Gautama Buddha, but to embody in an image a universal teaching of meditative peace.  Buddha images are reminders of Gautama Buddha and his teaching.  They serve as reminders of the possibility of enlightenment to Buddhists.