kids in a bounce

Bob & Rachel had a fantastic luau at their place last night! There was an adorable mini-bounce for the keikis, and a challenging wild boar spearing contest for the old ones.

throwing a wooden spear at a papier mache boar in Bob & Rachel Hernandez' back yard in Hacienda Heights, CA

Wild Boar Photo by Robert Hernandez, Esq.

About a month ago they asked if I’d be willing to facilitate an art project for the kids and if I had any ideas on what that might be. I offered making plaster casts of hands, making origami memory boxes and hunting for stuff to put in them, or making a collaborative portrait.

Bob & Rachel really liked the portrait painting idea and thought it should be of Aunt Sheila (my mom) since she’s turning 90 this year. But Bob had one concern about the project:

I really like the idea of letting them paint (option 1), but I’m concerned about the outcome. Do you think it will actually turn out looking like Aunt Sheila? If so, I would go with option 1. I’m concerned about the finished product not having any form, or ending up looking like Aqualung.

photo of Sheila & Glenn Zucman circa 1955

Here’s the photo I chose. It’s one of my dad’s Kodachromes of me and my mom.

photo of Sheila Zucman

I cropped it to be a close up of my mom, and then gridded it off into 5 x 5 squares.

Giancarlo Perez painting on a 4" canvas

Giancarlo working on the vibrant icterine yellow of mom’s dress.

painting in a backyard

Ryan, Anita, Ame & Linda working on tiles

3 people painting in a backyard

Project coordinator Andrea assists Victor and Rachel in getting started on their tiles.

painting in the backyard

Jason and Sofia work on their tiles as Mia offers helpful tips on their technique.

closeup of a person painting a smile on a canvas

Linda worked on half of Aunt Sheila’s smile…

painting a smile on canvas

… while Jason worked on the other half.

paint mixed on a paper plate


3 people painting at a table on the grass in a backyard

Matthew and Jason agree: Linda’s painting is the bomb!

people painting at a backyard party

In the painter’s studio!

close up of painting on a 4 inch canvas

Shades of Vermeer?

painting at a backyard party

Jackie and Eric work on tiles as other tiles behind them are drying.

a series of 4" canvas sitting on the grass and waiting to dry

Tiles drying!

25 small canvases arranged in a 5x5 grid to make a portrait

Our finished, collaborative, masterpiece!



Maybe it does look a little bit like Aqualung. But everybody had a lot of fun. And everybody thought the project was pretty cool. And I think I see how it could be both funnerer and better next time! 😛

I think more tiles would really help! Going up to 10×10 for 100 tiles might be kind of crazy. But maybe 7×7 for 49 tiles is doable. And then don’t stress detail too much. Just have an easy fun painting experience and try to more-or-less sketch in the shape in your tile.

3 people looking at a painting on the grass.

Cindy leading Eric and Jackie in a critique of the project.

Written by Glenn Zucman

BA, Psychology, University of Hawaii, MFA, Intermedia Art, Long Beach State. Host of American Public Media's "Border Patrol." Host of KBeach Radio's "Strange Angels." Interested in Identity Art that explores our Oracle-at-Delphi-like straddling of corporeal and virtual realms in our new media century. Civil rights in online space. 10 years...
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