Catching Up

Welcome to our new Newsletter.

Stories to Share


May trip to China

I returned to China this past spring and was proud to make the opening statements for the watercolor painting exhibition held at the Shanghai Pudong library. In just three years since I gave Guquian her first art lesson, her life has changed dramatically. Guquian inspired many others to give art a try.

Xela Aid Guatemala Thrive Auction

Portrait of Mám weaver Luciana Perez, Kevin Macpherson auction item #8

Portrait of Mám weaver Luciana Perez, Kevin Macpherson auction item #8

Please join me for the First Annual Guatemala Thrive Auction benefitting Local Hope/Xela AID and Art Ambassador for a Colorful World opening August 30th. The auction features more than 50 unique experiences and masterful plein air paintings. All proceeds will fund projects to improve the lives of children and families in Guatemala.'

Here’s the link to view all auction items.

GUATEMALA THRIVE AUCTION will run August 30th through 9 p.m. September 15th, Guatemalan Independence Day. Thank you for considering these unique gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and for shopping for the cause.

Art Can Change the World, by Victoria Lindstrom

When Kevin Macpherson – Founder of Art Ambassador for a Colorful World, met Leslie Baer Dinkel – CEO of Xela AID, the seed for an extraordinary collaboration was formed. While Kevin’s non-profit organization seeks to enable children to blossom through art in remote locations around the globe, Leslie and Xela AID have been empowering the Mayan people of the Guatemalan Highlands for twenty-six years through education, job opportunities, & health care.             

Kevin Macpherson chats with locals in Antigua, Guatemala

Kevin Macpherson chats with locals in Antigua, Guatemala

Leslie Baer Dinkel reaches out to the children at Xela AID

Leslie Baer Dinkel reaches out to the children at Xela AID

The first week of November, 2018, they joined forces and embarked on their inaugural group trip, taking with them twenty-five artists, and art enthusiasts, to Guatemala for ten remarkable days of art and service. When the artists weren’t painting a 17th century church or photographing Mayan women in a colorful village market - they were delivering chickens with their coops to needy families, or rescuing a mother and her children from domestic abuse - and setting them up in a “new” house, new school, and new job!   

Bunny Oliver & Anne Wickam Smith celebrate with mother & children.

Bunny Oliver & Anne Wickam Smith celebrate with mother & children.

Art Ambassador Joel Heger receives thanks from a village woman.

Art Ambassador Joel Heger receives thanks from a village woman.

With participants from Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Mexico, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Washington, it made for an eclectic ensemble of artists from around the country. However, with their common love of art, and their desire to make a difference in the world, these creative people made a powerful impact upon nearly everyone they met in Guatemala – surprising even themselves. In addition to their art and service, the friendships that were formed were the type that last a lifetime.

Art Ambassador Group.jpg

In the words of many of the artists the trip was “life-changing, humbling, and extraordinary.” In addition to the humanitarian element of the trip, the beauty of the World UNESCO Heritage Site of Antigua was breathtaking, as was Lake Atitlan in Jaibalito. Both spectacular locations, as well as Quetzaltenango (“Xela”) and the nearby quaint village of San Martin where the Xela AID Center is located, offered the artists endless opportunities to compose exquisite paintings. 

The Arch of Santa Catalina

The Arch of Santa Catalina

Lake Atitlan

Lake Atitlan

Additionally, in San Martin, Xela AID has undertaken construction of a three-story building for the purpose of Montessori and public preschool classrooms, plus space for tutoring, literacy, leadership training, and an expanded computer laboratory. There is also rooftop space that will feature an open-air studio which will welcome artists in partnership with Art Ambassador for a Colorful World; the non-profit organization has made a significant pledge.

Xela AID CFO, Mel Dinkel, discusses the building project.

Xela AID CFO, Mel Dinkel, discusses the building project.

According to Kevin Macpherson and Leslie Baer Dinkel the trip was a wonderful success; the art ambassadors definitely experienced the concept that “art can change the world.” Consequently, another joint trip to Guatemala has already been scheduled for November 2019. If you are interested, or would like to learn more, check out the links below. 

Kevin Macpherson, Anne Wickham Smith, with children and artists.

Kevin Macpherson, Anne Wickham Smith, with children and artists.

Kevin Macpherson, Lori Putnam, & other artists, paint local women, turned models.

Kevin Macpherson, Lori Putnam, & other artists, paint local women, turned models. 

Be sure to subscribe to the Art Ambassador for a Colorful World newsletter to be notified of upcoming events and trips. 

AAFCW Artists Trip to Guatemala 2018

Art Ambassador Website blog:

The first Art Ambassador artist’s trip to Guatemala was a phenomenal success.


Twenty-six artists, photographers, and volunteers descended on Guatemala in November of this year. They painted, conducted classes with children and worked on building projects such as a water purification project, and they even built chicken coops (complete with chickens) for three deserving families in the area.


All initially gathered in the picturesque city of Antigua for a few days of creativity.

Then they moved on to Quetzaltenango, which was the home base for their work in the remote village of San Martin Chiquito where Xela AID has built their clinic.

From there, all finally moved on for a restful finale at Lake Atitlan amid three towering volcanoes before heading home.

Ten days of excitement, camaraderie, creativity and laughter.

Kevin Macpherson Reporting in from China

Kevin was joined by Ken Cadwallader and 14 artists from across China, who volunteered their time to paint murals for the children of Long Lin elementary school in XiShuang BanNa, Yunnan.

At the bottom of the page is a link to the thank you note (with pictures) he sent to volunteers.

Here are some photos from the event. At the top is a time-lapse video of one of the murals in progress:

Click on this picture to see the Thank You Note Kevin sent to the volunteers.

Click on this picture to see the Thank You Note Kevin sent to the volunteers.

Perkins Summer Camp

Joel Heger, a Director at Art Ambassador for a Colorful World, taught art classes to children at The Perkins Summer Camp, a program of The John Perkins Center in Jackson, Mississippi.

“It's always amazing”, recalled Joel after his visit, “to see how children respond when given the opportunity to express themselves through art; depicting their families, friends and communities. I don’t know why I’m so surprised, because whenever we work with a group of youngsters and give them the tools and a little guidance and encouragement, they seem to blossom – with huge smiles across their faces”.

The Center helps students become leaders in the areas of justice, community development, and understanding. The vision of the Center is to see generations of global urban leaders, organizations, and institutions engaging the culture and changing the world by contributing to community health and wholeness. 

Art Ambassador for a Colorful World has similar goals, as reflected in our mission statement:

We believe art has the power to change the world. It inspires individuals and brings together entire communities. Art Ambassador helps children and adults express their vision of the world through art. When children draw and paint, a creative spark is ignited. They are able to develop life skills like cooperation, confidence and leadership. Art provides a colorful retreat from everyday life bringing joy and laughter to kids and the communities that delight in them.

The children with whom Joel worked varied in age from 5 to 12 years of age. Joel’s objective was to introduce the children to the idea that art is fun and rewarding in many ways. Joel, too, had fun teaching them the fundamentals of art. The kids were given full rein and, while listening to music, painted portraits of each other, their favorite animals, or whatever they wanted, on paper plates. Joel presented the children with awards in the form of paints, brushes, etc., to grow on. In addition, the kids received a personalized bag of art materials to keep and use whenever they’re inspired. 

These disadvantaged youngsters had a chance to have fun and learn. That also goes for Joel as he plans on returning next year.

Art Ambassador Guatemala Trip-2017

Paint with Kevin Macpherson

Serve and Learn Spanish in Antigua Guatemala

Guatemala Countryside

Trip Dates June 16-30, 2017

Deadline to Register: December 31, 2016  

Benefiting Art Ambassador for a Colorful World

A Link is Provided Below to Submit your $500 Deposit! Read on!

"Some of you know that I've traveled on several occasions with Xela AID, which provides critically needed services to the Mayan people of Guatemala. I'm writing to invite you to join me next summer to paint and to serve in one of the most colorful and interesting cultural regions of the world! This trip will take us to Antigua, the breathtaking colonial capital city of old Guatemala, where we can choose to paint and sight-see only or you can also take advantage of one-on-one Spanish lessons (included) at a beautiful villa." – Kevin


Kevin's fortunately found his gift early in life.  When he was seven years old he knew he would be an artist. Art has opened many doors for a fulfilling life. He loves teaching, by giving back and sharing art to both adults and now especially to underprivileged children around the world. Perhaps Kevin will spark a child's passion that will light their way for life. Volunteering with Xela Aid was the inspiration for Kevin founding Art Ambassador for a Colorful World, both non-profit organizations.


Join Kevin on a joint Xela AID and Art Ambassador trip filled with life changing moments. We will have many group activity options and time to paint on your free days. Antigua, Guatemala is among the best-conserved colonial cities in the world. It is a busy town full of colonial architecture and beautiful surroundings. The center of Antigua is under UNESCO World Heritage protection. The designation was based on the integrity of its 16th-century layout and the physical integrity of the buildings in the historic center. You may get the feeling time might have stopped some 300 years ago. Colonial history is always present in Antigua Guatemala. It combines with an array of cultural activities. These include art galleries and exhibits, performing arts, popular arts, films, forums, restaurants, cafes, and cultural tourism in general. Be ready to take hundreds of photos of this inspiring country and be prepared to experience Guatemala in a very unique way.


The week after visiting Antigua the group will travel to a small village, San Martin where Xela aid has worked with for over twenty-five years.  You have the option to paint and or volunteer with Xela aid projects. You will be welcomed like family. The accommodations are clean, safe and comfortable. You will have all of your transportation included. It will be without instruction but Kevin will surely offer some evening group critiques for free.

"The meaning of life is to find your gift, the purpose of life is to give it away."

— Picasso

Please note that the deadline is swiftly approaching. All you need to do is put down a $500 deposit to reserve your spot before the deadline of December 31, 2016. You can follow up here:

Flyer with Detailed Information:

Sign Up Here:

Base Cost is $1862 per person double occupancy no matter if spouse or not, plus $100 for critique sessions with Kevin during the trip ($1962 total). Please note $650 extra for a single. This is not a workshop.

Art Ambassador for a Colorful World participants pay $1962, but Art Ambassador for a Colorful World will receive $200 for every Art Ambassador who signs up which we will use for art scholarships for children!

This is a Volunteer Service Trip, and Your Total Contribution is Fully Tax Deductible!

Please email if you need additional information, and I look forward to traveling with you to this incredible destination for artists,


Jack Vogler's Guatemala Journal

This trip was a collection of firsts for me.

As I started out on my first trip to Guatemala to work with Kevin Macpherson’s Art Ambassador roadshow along with our partner group Xela Aid - Partnership for Self-Reliance, there was no way I could imagine how this weeklong adventure would evolve, or what it would mean to me.

I arrived in Guatemala a few days before Kevin and Wanda Macpherson, and the Xela Aid contingency. I decided to arrive early to become acclimated to the cultures, language, personalities, and people of Guatemala. Our initial rendezvous point was the century old city of La Antigua, which I was told was the original capital of Guatemala.

Antigua is a city somewhat lost in time. Sidewalks are narrow and the streets are paved in large cobblestones. These streets are so rough; it is impossible for anyone to speed around in their cars and trucks. Antigua is filled with ancient sites, and due to the many earthquakes over the years, the ruins of old churches remain standing nearly on every corner.

Parque Central, the city square, bustles with people selling their beautiful crafts, tourists, and young shoeshine boys who insisted on polishing your shoes even if you’re wearing sneakers. 

Parque Central, the city square, bustles with people selling their beautiful crafts, tourists, and young shoeshine boys who insisted on polishing your shoes even if you’re wearing sneakers. 

My challenges began once the Xela Aid group and the other Art Ambassador representatives arrived. I quickly overcame the challenge of learning our group’s individual names, and on Sunday we began our real reason for being there. We boarded our bus and headed up to Quetzaltenango, which served as our home base. Interestingly, the name used by the locals for Quetzaltenango is Xela!

Every morning we gathered for breakfast and were briefed on the day’s activities and schedules. We then left our hotel to travel to a small village of San Martin Chiquito, where Xela Aid has been working for nearly 25 years. A well-staffed group of people, including doctors, a psychologist, a computer technology expert, and specialists in the areas of construction, spousal abuse, child welfare, and education oversees the activities there. In addition, it is the home of some of the country’s greatest weavers.

As our bus approached the central square, we were serenaded by a seemingly endless blast of firecrackers. As the door of the bus opened, young children and their mothers rushed to hug us with their arms wrapped around our legs.. I had the distinct impression they did not intend to let go. Clearly, they were very happy to see us.

All of a sudden, there was a real sense of LOVE in the air. This would continue through the week.

All of a sudden, there was a real sense of LOVE in the air. This would continue through the week.

This however was only the beginning! On day one, I conducted an art class with a great group of fifth graders. Each of the students was given a kraft tote bag along with an assortment of colored crayons. In addition, they had several large sets of colored markers to choose from. My assignment for them was to illustrate their life with the theme, “I Love My Life”. The guidance I gave them was to close their eyes and think about their lives in the following way:

I love who I am! • I love my family! • I love my friends! • I love where I live! • I love my history and my culture! • I love the things around me like my home, my school, the trees, the animals, and the flowers.

These faces tell the story!

This initial project was a smashing success, especially when I told them they could keep the totes and colored crayons. Although I had more kraft sacks than I personally needed, another member of our group also conducted two classes with the same materials and had a similar resounding success.

On day two, I returned to the Las Nubes Elementary School to work with a group of third graders. My assignment for this group was to imagine the importance of the sun, which as we know, is the most important thing there is to support life on Earth.

Today we will draw our own version of the sun.We have colored markers and paper plates to draw on. When we finish, we will enjoy your impressions together.

For inspiration, and to gain a better understanding of our assignment, I shared this collection of unique sun images.

For inspiration, and to gain a better understanding of our assignment, I shared this collection of unique sun images.

The children had no trouble understanding my assignment and quickly began to create their sun impressions. There was quite a bit of chatter among the children, and they were all excited to dive in.







Pg. 5_Number 4.jpg

Beyond what we might call the “obvious” solution, many of these children expressed deep meaning in their renditions of the sun. Take Jose as an example. Jose said “The sun is a clown because clowns make magical things happen.”

We then returned to the Xela Aid Clinic and began painting a single panel mural on the wall of the newly completed and magical third-floor. Our mural was a totally collaborative event. Five of us painted the wall simultaneously. It looked much like a circus act. The subject was simply a lady, in traditional dress, peering out a window to a typical hillside farming area. In the end, it was a delightful addition to this gathering place.

With our work now completed at the clinic, it was time for a little R&R for us worker-bees. On Friday evening, we loaded onto our bus and drove out to the beautiful, Lake Atitlán. For many tourists and natives alike, this lake is possibly the single greatest destination in Guatemala. Lake Atitlán brings poetic outbursts from even the most seasoned travelers. Of volcanic origin, the lake is ringed by villages such as Santiago Atitlán, San Marcos, San Pedro, and Panajachel. There we had a fine time exploring the native surroundings, shopping and eating.

Pictured here, The Art Ambassador team: Kevin and Wanda Macpherson, John Vernelson, Ruth Heffron, Joel Heger, Jack Vogler

Pictured here, The Art Ambassador team: Kevin and Wanda Macpherson, John Vernelson, Ruth Heffron, Joel Heger, Jack Vogler

In summary, this excursion was everything from breath-taking to humbling. The happiness, love, and appreciation shown to us by all of the children and their parents, is difficult to describe. Words alone cannot explain the pure joy and satisfaction that each of us feels having been part of this Art Ambassadors adventure.

By Jack Vogler

 President, Art Ambassador For A Colorful World


Conversation with Kevin Macpherson

Here's a wonderful audio dialogue with Kevin from the Savvy Painter podcast. If you are interested in painting or travel, you will love this interview. To listen, click on the picture below.

In this episode, Interviewer Antrese Wood and Kevin talk about:

  • How Kevin made the decision to chuck everything, hit the road and paint.
  • How he chooses to take risks and live without regret.
  • The surprising origin of Kevin’s extremely limited palette.
  • Travels in China and the lengths Kevin goes to make the children smile.
If It's Wednesday, It Must Be Arles, 24x36, Kevin Macpherson  (Click Image to listen to interview)

If It's Wednesday, It Must Be Arles, 24x36, Kevin Macpherson (Click Image to listen to interview)

Impressions of China: Exhibition and Fundraiser

Opening Reception March 21st , 2015, 2:00 to 5:00 PM

Impressions of China, an Art Show Reception and Fundraiser for Art Ambassador for a Colorful World, will take place at the Raymond Restaurant in Pasadena, California on Saturday, March 21, 2015 from 2:00 PM until 5:00 PM. World-renowned artists, Kevin Macpherson and Jove Wang, accompanied by six accomplished women artists, traveled to Jilin, China and Outer Mongolia in late 2014, to document a portion of China less traveled by Westerners. Painting from dawn to dusk for almost three weeks, the artists put their impressions of China on canvas. Back home in the U.S. they completed their paintings and created new works based on the thousands of photos they took.

Woman in Headdress

These colorful and insightful paintings, including those by Peggy Chang, Wendy Cordin, Laurie Hendricks, Christina Kuo, Julie Rogers, and Janine Salzman will be on display at the Raymond Restaurant during the event.  After the opening, the show will move to the Laurie Hendricks Gallery, down the street in South Pasadena, where the works will be on display for a month. 

Portrait-of-Woman-Jove Wang.jpg

 Art Ambassador for a Colorful World, led by Kevin Macpherson, is based on the idea that art has the power to change the world.  The non-profit helps children and adults in countries like China and Guatemala express their vision of the world through art.  Kevin and the other art ambassadors provide individualized art instruction and lectures in conjunction with national governments, local museums and institutions of higher learning to build local capacity of art instruction and appreciation.  A percentage of each painting sale will go towards funding this exciting program.  

Jove Wang was born in China, and at age 7 he apprenticed with Master Painter Gang Gu, before studying at the Jilin School of Art and graduating from Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts with honors.   In 1990 he immigrated to the United States where he soon met with success, and was commissioned to paint portraits of Cardinal Roger Mahony, and Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich.  Mr. Wang has won numerous awards including Best of Show in the California Art Club’s 88th Gold Medal Show and in the 8th National Oil Painters of America Show.   His work has been exhibited in the Pasadena Museum of California Art, the Pasadena Historical Museum, the Laguna Beach Art Museum, the Carnegie Art Museum, the Bowers Museum, as well as the Museum of Jilin, China.  Jove Wang is a Signature Member of the California Art Club. 

Kevin Macpherson is recognized as one of America's most accomplished Impressionistic Plein Air painters.  He is a member of many top organizations including: Master Oil Painters of America, Master 


American Impressionists Society, Signature Member of the California Art Club, member of the Salmagundi Club and founding member and first president of the Plein Air Painters of America.  He has been recognized for his accomplishments and influence by numerous organizations.  His work has been featured in more than 75 publications, books, television series and videos and he has written three popular books on landscape painting, that are published in the U.S. and China.  Kevin visits and paints in China several times a year, and also founded the Art Ambassador for a Colorful World foundation.

The Raymond Restaurant is located at 250 South Fair Oaks Avenue in Pasadena, and features an innovative, contemporary menu in a casual-fine dining setting.  Executive Chef Tim Guiltinan creates classic American cuisine with global influences like Gambas y Papas Bravas, wild shrimp paired with fried potatoes, spicy tomato sauce and garlic aioli. Utilizing a mix of modern and classic cooking techniques, Guiltinan combines familiar ingredients with an exotic flair to produce a truly singular style.  Hidden in the back, the world-renowned cocktail bar, 1886, shakes craft cocktails with hand-cut ice, freshly-squeezed juices, and a hand-selected arsenal of quality spirits. The wine list features a varied selection of domestic and international wines from both premier and boutique wineries.  Join them for brunch, lunch, dinner, cocktails, or reserve space for a special occasion.

Impressions of China will move to the Laurie Hendricks Gallery and be on display from March 26th until April 18th.  The Gallery is located at 1504 Mission Street in South Pasadena, California and is open Thursday through Saturday from 11:00 AM until 5:00 PM and also by appointment.  The gallery shows Plein Air paintings and The Burgess Collection which features paintings, watercolors and limited edition prints from the 18th Century to the present.  

Please call (626) 664-1427 for more information, or larger photo files.




Guatemala 2014

August, 2014 By Ryan Lanese and Kevin Macpherson

On August 2nd along with Xela Aid, members of Art Ambassador for a Colorful World arrived in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. It is fitting that we aimed to connect such a place with art. The environment is a living canvas, from the lush greens rolling over the mountains, the endless fields of maize, to the beautiful hand made garments worn by the Guatemala women. After the scenic drive, we settled in to the Hotel Modelo, a quaint and beautiful spot. At breakfast the next morning, we are told by the owner that he is the fourth generation of his family to run the hotel. A legacy lasting since 1916! At that moment, any pangs of homesickness were immediately assuaged.

Ron Ryan Kevin Guatemala

A 45-minute bus ride separated us from San Martin, the village where our friends at Xela Aid have been doing incredible work for the last couple of decades. They have turned previous despair in to a treasure trove of opportunity and hope for the future. We arrive at the clinic, the hub of activity. Upon exit we are swarmed by women and children. They give hugs and joyous greetings. There is something that can almost be described as magical about the affection we received by people we had never met in our lives. Though I had come with the intention of making an impact, it quickly became clear that the impact was to be made on me.

We were immediately set on the work to be done. The doctors had hundreds of patients from all around that had come to see them. The patients were plagued with ailments such as bronchitis, amoebic dysentery, and a plethora of other issues stemming from the lack of access to clean water. An unfinished house for Julia and children awaited running water, furniture, and a fresh coat of paint. Finally, many eager children were excited for the art activities planned by Kevin and the other members of the group.

Art Ambassador in Guatemala 55.jpg

The first three days went by quickly. The house was coming along, the doctors saw patients as quickly as they could and did as much as their supplies allowed them. The children delighted with the new friends and fun of the art classes. A mob of young children followed Kevin around. The childlike aura of curiosity that surrounded him as an artist immediately made him a friend and mentor. The same respect was given to the many Xela Aid workers, who consist of teachers, doctors, and translators. In the short time they have been in San Martin, they have led many children to a better, educated life. The children aspire to attend the university and become leaders of the next generation. Some have even come back to work for the same cause that changed their life.

 As this was written, we were only three days into our trip, and we felt we'd gained a lifetime of experience. We are all certainly humbled, and plan to let this fabulous experience drive us as we finish up our work in San Martin.