JUNE 9 – AUGUST 22, 2014

Summer Camp season is approaching, quickly! Luckily, we’ve got you covered for 11 (very fun-filled, creative) weeks! Sculpture: Soapstone, Film Week, Toy Shop: Sock Monkeys!, Audubon Watercolors, Photography, Fashion Week, Figure Drawing, Printmaking, Stop Motion Animation, Installation Art and Architecture are the subjects we’ll be covering this summer. Please click here for more information!

**Please note: Film Week and Photography Week will be held within the Fern Dell in Griffith Park. All other weeks will be at our studio in Highland Park.

(Wave Artwork by Raymond Pettibon)

Behind the Scenes, Part 2

Almost a year ago, I was at USC’s Innovation Lab, participating in the beginning stages of an thought-provoking transmedia project.  The entire experience was like a smorgasbord of ideas and possibilities, and I walked away with a lot on my mind.  All these months later, I still remember plenty.  Like the first time I saw the sign on the lab’s wall that said, “FAIL HARDER.”

There were a couple other surprising and somewhat subversive mantras stuck up on the wall as well, but “FAIL HARDER,” is the one that lodged itself into my consciousness.  I think there are a couple key reasons for this.  First off – hello, it’s only two words.  For an overly verbose goon, like myself, there is nothing more beautiful than the simplicity of just two perfectly paired words.  And they are perfectly paired.  Together, they are a groundbreaking curveball.  They speak to the very heart of what we want to become… free.

But what happens when you do encounter failure?  As an artist, educator and businesswoman, there is sure to be a lot of that!  What then? Does it smack of freedom, or the same pounding disappointment?  I’d say both.

This past week saw The Art Grist, “FAIL HARDER.”  For all of the physical and emotional energy we put into our muppet video for IndieGoGo, it was a complete failure.  The audio was sad, it was poorly lit and the muppet versions of ourselves were flat.  Late Friday night, after watching the video too many times, we both agreed to call it what it was, a failure.

I’ll admit, I did not feel free in that moment.  Or proud.  I felt aggrivated and insecure.  It took a fair amount of minutes before I could move forward and embrace the sign.  But I did, and we did, but not before trying to learn a little bit from our mistakes. We came up with a plan B, and moved as fast as we could to make it happen.

Plan B is an entirely different video.  No muppets, no script, just us.  And whether the video is successful or not, whether our IndieGoGo campaign is successful or not, I am proud of what we have done.  Each failure brings us that much closer to our dream.

If life is a poker game, then The Art Grist is all in.

For the past four years,we have been putting together a swell little art camp in the midst of Griffith Park, all the while whispering about the possibility of some day finding a permanent home for truly great art making. That day has come. Our vision for The Art Grist is ambitious, looking to combine classes for children and adults, with a supportive community for artists, and a forward thinking gallery. But to us, these things are meant to be together, mixing and blending like a charcoal drawing.

If this is your first encounter with The Art Grist, please take a look at our gallery to see what we have accomplished to this point. We are educators who live for art, and artists who see no shame in being great educators. Our emphasis has always been on relevent content and quality execution, and we believe that has been shown through the work of our campers. With a roof over our heads and expanded vision, we expect to take each of these elements to the next level.

We have scrimped and saved up for this moment, and we are putting our entire savings into the project. We’re all in – money, time and heart. Now we are reaching out to supporters to make sure that not only can we open our doors, but keep them open. The Art Grist is asking those who believe in our mission to donate, through our Indiegogo campaign. The Indiegogo link to the right will take you to our campaign video and information. Each dollar raised will be the foundation for groundbreaking education, unique events and support for emergent artists. You’re support will make all this happen, and for this we are extremely grateful.

See you at The Grist,

Heather and Kristin

Behind the Scenes

I woke up today with a large bruise on my left hip. Couldn’t remember where it came from. Mind you, this is starting to happen more and more, making me feel like I’m turning into my mother. But then it all came back to me – laying on the floor in the most awkward position, trying to do three things at once, repeatedly messing up, having my arm go numb – all part of our effort to put together a little muppet movie for our Indiegogo campaign.

In the past, we have made muppets at our camp. It’s something that, although a little time consuming, is a complete blast. You get the chance to build a real character as you go along, and the thing kinda takes on a separate life. The kids were so attached to their characters that they all put on an impromptu muppet wedding, with a muppet minister, a ring bearer, and a rather unique looking bride. That’s what we call a great day.

This time around, Kristin and I made muppet versions of ourselves. The results… well, I’d say passable. There were a number of yarn hair issues, and those really intense bulging eyes. But in the end, as we were outfitting them with infant clothes from target, they seemed to take on a separate life as well.

Controlling the puppets asked for a level of coordination that I’m not sure either Kristin or I have as of yet. There were times where I couldn’t control the puppet’s mouth, arm movements, and my voice very well. We give a big tip of the hat to those people who do that professionally, and do it well.

I’m not entirely sure what the film will look like – that’s the price you pay for standing in front of the camera instead of behind. But what I am certain of is the fact that we laughed quite a bit, even through the stressful moments. And that we owe a very hefty thank you to those who helped us with the project: Ivy, Stella, Maddee, Anton, Tristan, and Adam.


We just took pictures to be turned into drawings for our website. Lord, do I hate myself in pictures. Apparently, so does Kristin. Each picture we looked at, brought about peels of laughter or sighs of annoyance. When we finally settled on a picture, it was just that… settling. Ah, confidence, where are you hiding?

Give a group picture to a woman and she will automatically scan for her face to check to see what the damage is. Some will ask for another picture, others will make disparaging comments, and many more will simply shrug that sad shrug of resignation. When I think about it, there are only a few women I know who can look at a picture of themselves and feel satisfied. And by in large, a woman’s perceived beauty or plainness has had little bearing on this satisfaction, or lack there of. I’m curious – why do so many of us cringe at the sight of ourselves in a picture?


There are just those days when the air rests a little heavier on your skin… and no, I’m not referring to the disgusting feeling pressing in on me during these unusually muggy days in Los Angeles; although, the physical feeling does justice to the metaphor. Often it works out like that… a physical manifestation of your thoughts.

In terms of The Art Grist, my thoughts have been relatively light and breezy. Even as I have worked to teach myself more about business practices and write a convoluted business plan, I have held an almost childlike optimism. Not so much today. I step back and look at all the things that must, must, must fall into place to get our business up and running, and I feel a bit daunted. Not pessimistic, just daunted. I know we will get there, I’m just having the darndest time seeing the path.

The two biggest stressers continue to be finding a location and finding the rest of the money to makes sure this gets done right. Today, we finally heard back from the owner of a storefront on York that we had started making goo-goo eyes at. I say finally because we had been haunting this man for weeks now, leaving heaps of messages that he didn’t care to respond to. As it turns out, he already has someone ready to sign a lease on the site. Grrrrr.

And whereas my normal response would be to shrug and smile-frown before moving onto something else, today it weighs down on my skin and is irritating. I realize it has nothing to do with the actual event, but is my personal humidy. Yet, that heavy air is still hanging in the room.


When I was first introduced to Kristin, I remember being entranced with her shoes. They were these extremely high platforms that no one in their right mind would wear to work at an elementary school – except perhaps her and me.

I’m one of those true believers in the old belief that you can tell a lot about a person by looking at their shoes. Many will put up a fuss about how it’s the inside that counts and shoe judgements are entirely superficial. I appreciate all those comments and when I look at your shoes, I believe that they will quite accurately echo your setiments. Kristin’s shoes were beautiful, playful, gutsy and just plain different. After working alongside her for over four years, I’d still say that stands as an accurate description of her.

Norton Simon’s Woodblock Prints

I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for almost anything Japanese. I cannot pass up a Shabu Shabu dinner, love the spareness of haiku poetry, am down with the surrealness of Kabuki, and simply gush over the architecture. I’m even appreciative of their weird obsession with the cute, a phenomenon that would seem bothersome to my sensibilities, but in actuality is endlessly entertaining.

So it will come as no surprise that when I found out that the Norton Simon was finishing up an exhibit on Japanese Woodblock Prints, I hopped in the car and plopped down the cash to view them. Like most museum exhibition trips, I based my decision to go simply on the title of the show. I almost never do any real research into the specifics of a show, or read up on any reviews. I prefer to go in fresh, with limited expectations – to enjoy an exhibit for what it actually is, rather than compare it to what I imagined it to be.

Yet, for having asserted all of that rubish, I still run smack into the wall of expectations on a regular basis. In the case of the woodblock print exhibit, this meant immediate disappointment at the diminutive size of the exhibit. If I were to guess, I would say there were about 15 pieces of art displayed in a space the size of my dining room. 15. I came to immerse myself in the subject and found myself spending 20 minutes or so perusing the prints and looking for a secret passage into another, bigger room of woodblock prints. No secret passage. And a little voice in me said, “Boo.”

What was on the walls did not disappoint. Maybe that’s what made the size of the exhibit disappointing. The prints were alive – vibrant with color. The blues and reds were remarkable, at the same time deep and airy. It’s the sort of color and effect that you can only achieve with water based inks.

And as the exhibit pushed the illusory and temporary nature of life, expressed through the delicate cherry blossoms or beautiful young women, I saw that perfect marriage of medium and subject matter. Could a Japanese printer ever truly reflect the imperminance of the flowers with the heavy oil based inks used by their western contemporaries? Probs not. It could only be as it was made, and in art, there is such power when this happens. It is the thing that makes me stand in front of a picture until my feet ache and my eyes twitch. And it is the thing that makes me beg for more when I’ve only been served up an appitizer.

The Numbers

We’ve been doing a lot of thinking on numbers these past few days. I’ll admit that it’s not my favorite thing to do. I’d much rather contemplate the differences in black ink or the way to capture the light that splays out over Zen when he’s napping. In fact, there’s not much else I wouldn’t rather focus my attention on for such a sustained period of time.

But business is about the bottom line (or so I’ve been told way too many times), so I’ve devoted myself to the pursuit of sales forecasts, break-even analyses, and the rate of depreciation for assets. It ain’t sexy. It ain’t even mildly attractive. To be honest, it’s somewhat like staring into the relentlessly plain face of some person you didn’t want to meet at a party, but end up talking to for an hour and a half. Somehow, the conversation continues.

Through each table line and point on a graph, we are asked to place value – the value of services and products, but more properly of art, life and time. And as I click away at the computer, entering numbers into a system that will present for us our bottom line, I laugh at the attempt to tell a story of two lives and one ambitious vision with numbers. These numbers are not us, they are the shadow cast by our dreams.

The Endpoint

For the most part, I consider myself an idea woman. I have a lot of them and have an almost romantic relationship with them. Each one, a new suitor whose attractive possibilities allow me to envision a future with innumerable endpoints. Often, I sit and chase down those endpoints in my mind and let them play out. So it goes, on and on, chasing the possibile.

Until that armorous moment where I commit and reality supercedes the unchecked imagination. There are meetings to go to, books to read, research to dig into to, and advice to ask. I do these things. Some things I am good at… others not so much. But I continue to do them because my tenuous relationship with the idea depends on that continual action forward. Forward.

It is in that forward movement, the meetings and such, that the unlimited endpoints disappear. Each one falls away until there is only one endpoint. The endpoint. And I keep thinking, that if we could only see that endpoint clearly in the beginning, that it would all be so much easier, so much more efficient. With that picture in mind, we could cut a path to our goals with increased speed and fewer misteps.

Then again, what fun would that be?