Artist, writer, and community organizer Alan Lau grew up in Paradise, California. In his first book, The Buddha Bandits Down Highway 99, Lau recalls early memories of his grandmother teaching him calligraphy in her kitchen – his first experience with the brush. After earning his BA in Art from the University of California – Santa Cruz in 1976, Lau traveled to Japan where he studied sumi-e and brush painting. After settling in Seattle, Lau developed a visual style inspired by the traditional brush painting techniques, but unfettered by strict tradition. Primarily working on delicate Japanese rice paper, Lau layers sumi ink, watercolor, pastel, and other media to create abstract works with great depth yet surprising lightness.