Sunday, July 31, 2011

Summer Camp L.A.

A work of art is above all
an adventure of the mind.

~Eugene Ionesco

My 17 year old niece Rachel came to stay with me, two weeks ago today. She was attending a 2 week art camp for high school students at U.C.L.A. Her focus was photography. She had some very long days there, including field trips and the daily roundtrip drive to the campus in Westwood.

One of her field trips was to The Getty Center. I had always wanted to take her to The Getty, so I went ahead and met up with her there. She spent most of the time with her class and taking photos for an assignment but we still managed to walk around for a bit together in the main garden designed by Robert Erwin. It was a gorgeous day! (I also made it to the cafeteria for my favorite taco salad!)

We strolled around some of my favorite little shopping and restaurant areas like Larchmont Village and walked through my neighborhood to get coffees and dessert. We also watched movies. I brought out two movies I love that she'd never seen, Cinema Paradiso and Three Kings and she had me watch Up, (which was great!)

A fun little excursion was our photo expedition on Melrose Ave. Rachel took the photo below (you can see her reflection!) and it became part of her series for the final gallery show the last day of her camp. The title of her series became Too Much Rock for One Tanning Salon. She cracks me up.

Photo by Rachel Herring

Another night we drove up and down Hollywood Blvd. so she could take pictures. I don't think I have ever seen so many tourists on the Walk of Fame in my life. I took the photo below out the window, while parked in a loading zone, as Rachel was running around trying to photograph "Michael Jackson" in front of the Chinese Theater. Darth Vadar and Charlie Chaplin were there as well!

The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, by the way, is where the first Academy Awards was held in 1929 and is said to be haunted by deceased movie stars Marilyn Monroe (who lived there for two years) and Montgomery Clift who stayed during the filming of From Here to Eternity.

She ran out of film and I handed her my "point and shoot!"

Every production of an artist should be the expression
of an adventure of his soul.

~W. Somerset Maugham

We laughed at the two signs juxtaposed ...
"Final Destination ... Crazy Girls"

We also had fun cooking dinner together. This was one of our Italian nights ...
Our pasta dinner, complete with Italian music ...

Another dinner included sauteed zucchini flowers ..

Our bok choy with garlic and fresh ginger stir fry night!
(so good with a bit of sesame oil, onions and soy sauce!)

And then last Friday, after two weeks of photographing and printing, the kids all had a show of their work. It was in a large space on the U.C.L.A. campus and included the painting, drawing, sculpture and photography camps.

Of course, there was one person's work who really stood out and I am not just saying that because she's my niece! Her teachers even said what a great eye she has and how great her work is. Anyway, you can take a look for yourselves. These were taken with a film camera and her prints were then photographed with a digital camera. I wish you could see her beautiful prints in person!

Feel free to double click on the photos to get a better view!

"Too Much Rock for One Tanning Salon"
Photos by Rachel Herring

(Yes, the guy in the photo below is actually reading Catcher in the Rye at the Getty. Too perfect.)

From the Getty ...
Photo by Rachel Herring

Melrose graffiti
by Rachel Herring

Hollywood Blvd ...
by Rachel Herring

Photo by Rachel Herring

And my favorite ...
(can you see "Michael Jackson's" glittery socks?!)

Photo by Rachel Herring

I am so proud of her! It was so much fun. We are already making plans and trying to figure out when she can come back!

And yes, she has a blog. ;)

Art flourishes where there is a sense of adventure.

~Alfred North Whitehead

Hope you all had a bit of adventure in the last two weeks!
Blessings and light!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Summer Camp at the Wizard of Art

Creativity is
taking risks,
breaking rules,
making mistakes,
having fun.

~Mary Lou Cook

Monday will begin week 7 of teaching art camp at The Wizard of Art this summer. As usual, it's been a bit of a wild ride. Some weeks are pretty calm and others have had a bit of a circus vibe. My favorite thing about it by far, is seeing the pride that the kids have in there work - especially when they exceed their their own expectations and surprise themselves.

Here is a sampling of some of the kids this summer.

Kittens by Sadie
Mixed Media on Paper

Sadie - Mixed Media Artist
Age 5

Oyster and Pearl by Kate
Paint on Sculpey

Kate - Sculptor
Age 8

E.T. by Gabe
Acrylic on Canvas

Gabe - Painter
Age 8

Pink and Purple Fairy by Morgan
Watercolor and pastel on paper

Morgan - Watercolorist
Age 7

Puffin on Blue Background by Owen
Pastel on paper

Owen -Pastel Artist
Age 8

Tee-pee by Gavin
Watercolor and sharpie on paper

Gavin - Artist
Age 6

Mr. Crabs by Cor
Mixed Media on Duralar and Paper

Cor - Animator
Age 8

Cat by Josephine
Ink on paper

Josephine - Printer
Age 5

Aren't they inspiring??

Well ... 4 weeks to go!
If you want to see more amazing kids click here.
If you are in L.A. and are interested, their website is

Don't let anyone rob you of your imagination,
your creativity, or your curiosity.
It is your place in the world;
it's your life.
Go on and do all you can with it,
and make it the life you want to live.

~Mae Jemison

Please send love and prayers to our beautiful friends in Norway.
Blessings and light to them and to you always.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Narayan, a Cottage and Magic Shea Butter

It may be when we no longer know what to do,
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go,
we have begun our real journey.

~Wendell Berry

Back when I met her, our lives looked very different than they do today. Our aspirations and especially career goals were very different from what they are now. You never know what the next chapter holds until you get there!

I met Narayan 20 years ago when she was a dresser my first play I was in in San Diego. All I knew was that she was the funny gal from the theatre department, who made her own beautiful dresses, and was looking for a couple of roommates.

We ended up moving in with a couple of friends, into a haunted house in North Park, San Diego. A lot of other crazy things happened but perhaps I will leave that for the Halloween post! ;) We met up again a few years later in L.A. when we were both our pursuing acting careers and she had also become a manicurist to the stars. Seriously, name a star. Yep, she did their nails. She went into their homes, did big Vogue photo shoots and got stars ready for the Oscars.

Over time we both kind of veared away from acting and started bringing more focus to other interests in our lives. She got seriously into Kundalini yoga and then started creating her own shea butter creams for healing pedicures.

She now lives in Ojai about 5 minutes from my sister Penny and right next to Bart's Books! (One of my 2 favorite book stores ever- the other being The Bodhi Tree in L.A.)

Now she has her own line of products that she makes by hand with amazing organic ingredients. I had never used such amazing "lotion/cream" in my life and I am one very dry skinned chick. I admit to being recovering product addict so this is big. Oh, did I mention I love the face scrub? I know I am starting to sound like a commercial but it true!

The shea butter is organic and unrefined. Watch out for the whipped white stuff big companies call shea butter! Narayan's is blended with essential oils and jojoba, so it doesn't get hard as rock like a lot of the stuff they sell at health food stores. I am telling you, it could make a rhino as smooth as a baby's bottom. (A human baby, that is. Not a rhino. Was that clear?) Anyway, I LOVE her shea butters and they smell heavenly!

I took these photos at her groovy little cottage in Ojai, California ...

The journey between what you once were
and who you are now becoming
is where the dance of life really takes place.

~Barbara DeAngelis

To check out her awesome shea butters and other yummy stuff, click here!!!

And click here for a funny article and video about her by Joel Stein for Time.

Does the path have a heart?
If it does, the path is good;
if it doesn't it is of no use.

~Carlos Castaneda

Hope you are all following your the path your heart is taking you!
Blessings and light!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Spices and Synchronicity


: the coincidental occurrence of events and especially psychic events (as similar thoughts in widely separated persons or a mental image of an unexpected event before it happens) that seem related but are not explained by conventional mechanisms of causality

I love when synchronicity happens. Somehow it makes me feel like I am on the right track in life and the universe's plan really is perfect.

Several months ago, when my niece Elizabeth was going to college in London, we were writing back and forth and she expressed the desire to learn how to cook Indian food. I remembered she'd gotten an Indian cookbook for Christmas and I suggested when she came home over the summer, we should cook a big Indian dinner.

Well, it's summer and last Friday I headed to India Sweets and Spices to pick up some fennel powder, whole cumin, garam masala, cloves, mango chutney, spicy pickled mango, and the fabric to drain the paneer. Fortunately, between my sister and I, we pretty much had all the other spices we needed.

Saturday, after my pastel class, I headed to my sister Penny's to start decorating the table and cover the sofas with Indian blankets. Penny brought out her India books and photo albums from her trip years ago. My niece Rachel started putting together an Indian music playlist.

Elizabeth and I, with some help from Rachel and Penny, spent 4 hours in the kitchen preparing the feast! It was so hot in Ojai over the weekend we felt like we were cooking in Calcutta. It was so hot!

We made lamb with coriander and onions, paneer with peas, and dahl (lentils) with spinach, all from her cookbook. Penny made up some raita and of course, we had rice. Rachel made mango lassi with fresh mangos and yogurt for our dessert. (I don't know that it's traditionally a dessert but it was a perfect sweet drink to end our meal!)

My parents came over to join us and Elizabeth's boyfriend (who provided the naan bread and marigolds!) as well. Of course, my nephew and brother-in-law were there too. It was a lot of work but well worth it. They best part was spending time in the kitchen with my nieces.

The lamb with coriander had a yogurt base and was mild and very tasty.

I can't believe Elizabeth actually made home-made paneer. She said it was pretty easy -- except maybe boiling milk over a hot stove, in the middle of summer, while standing over it, to skim off the top.

We figured out a few things we would do differently next time (like preparing some things ahead) but all in all it turned out great and there was very little left over.

On my way back to L.A. on Sunday, I sat in traffic thinking about our amazing family dinner and what a wonderful memory we'd made, when my phone rang.

It was my friend Shea calling.
"What are you doing tonight?"

"Oh," I said, "being mellow and getting ready for work tomorrow."

"You might want to rethink that," she said.

It turned out that her friends had box seats at the Hollywood Bowl that night and the couple they were supposed to go with had to cancel. We were invited to go in their place. What was the music?

Are you kidding?

The traffic opened up and I made it in time to sit in the box, have dinner and see folk musicians, Bollywood step dancers and best of all, A.R. Rahman, the composer of Slumdog Millionaire, Water, 127 hours and many others. It was amazing. It felt like a miracle.

Rahman is a genius. He not only is an amazing composer but when he began to sing from the depths of his soul I could barely contain my emotion. You could feel his sweet spirit come through his smile as he spoke. He pointed out the beautiful moon behind the audience. He talked about going back to the children at his music foundation in India and telling them about performing at the Hollywood Bowl and that it meant anything was possible.

I found these on YouTube ...

His beautiful soundtrack for the film Water ...

And yes, that's me in the middle at the Hollywood Bowl.

In looking for YouTube videos of Rahman's work fort this post today, I found out that he composed the music for Elizabeth: The Golden Age ... which I watched on Monday night.

There is no such thing as chance;

and what seem to us merest accident springs from the deepest source of destiny.

~ Friedrich Schiller 1759-1805

Had any interesting synchronicities lately?