Visiting Summer Studios Art Academy

I was  a visiting artist at the Summer Studios Art Academy in Lomita, CA for three weeks (summer 2014). Now don’t let the name of the school make you assume it’s a seasonal program. The school is open year round with hours that accommodate people’s work, school and family schedules. The school is named after the director’s dog “Summer” who graced the studios for many years. The school has offered classes and studio space for almost ten years. Lomita CA is in the South Bay region of Los Angeles County, California. And Summer Studios Art Academy is 3 miles from the beach.

Summer Studios Art Academy offers classes taught by artist/founder/director David Parsons as well as several other accomplished artists. The school offers painting, drawing, sculpture and ceramics classes. Visit the SSAA website for information on classes and the artists who teach there.

Drawing and painting studios

Drawing and painting studios

I primarily make mixed media art , sculpture, photography and write poetry in my Texas studio ( But I decided to make pottery and photographs during my time as a visiting artist at SSAA. I have worked with clay in the past so I didn’t need a class. But ceramic classes are offered for wheel throwing and hand building with both high and low temperature firing options. And artists seeking a place to work independently can pay a monthly fee and have a great place to make art at the school.

Ceramic Studio

Ceramic Studio

Summer Studios Art Academy Gas Kiln

Gas fired kiln

It was a good to take a short break from my painting and work in a different studio for part of the summer. And it was great to be around many talented artists and students. The school offers an inviting environment to explore a variety of visual arts. The school has so much to offer that a new comer might initially feel overwhelmed by all that’s inside and around the school. Paintings hang on all the walls. Wooden and metal sculptures suspend from the ceilings. Even the aquariums hold small sculptures that goldfish have turned into underwater homes. Two large bird cages keep white plumed birds that sing, screech and talk to visitors.  Outside in the school parking lot, there are all sorts of materials that could mistakenly be called junk. But artists see the potential in such stuff…all those sculptures waiting to be made by those with vision. You’ll be hard pressed to find an art school that has the soul of an art studio run by a gifted artist.  You never know whats happening next at the Summer Studios Arts Academy and that is why students keep showing up. You see, Summer Studios Arts Academy isn’t your typical institutional operation with layers of administrative bureaucracy. It’s a place that is quite freeing.

Back home at my Texas studio, I miss the engaging collective spirit of Summer Studios along with the mild climate. If I can swing it, I hope to go there again someday. Perhaps I’ll even meet up with a couple of kiln gods named Jake and Jayleen who watched over my pottery as it fired up to 2300 degrees in a kiln fueled by natural gas. And those two kiln gods didn’t mind the heat as long as they could sit close together. I miss them, too.

Jake and Jayleen are kiln gods and hot lovers protecting  a kiln firing.

Jake and Jayleen are kiln gods and hot lovers protecting a kiln firing.

Those who live in the South Bay area should visit this very special place in your community. It’s an opportunity to enrich life by making artThe way you see the world changes once you start making art…And it’s never too late to start.


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