Art is a form of worship

I belong to a church that goes to great lengths to speak to people exactly where they are in life. I've been to churches where everyone functions under a shroud of falseness. I've been to crazy churches where people are "slaying in the Spirit" and wearing white robes. That was weird. I've been to a church where everyone had white hair and canes, and they wanted "church" to stay exactly the same way it was in 1975. And I've been to "holy" churches where only "holy" people could attend.

Ugh, those are the worst.

Part of the vision of Sandals Church is to be real with ourselves, others and God. I'm an artist--that is my real self. I didn't create myself this way--God did.

But where does an artist fit in at church? It's not like the olden days where our skills are sought after to build temples, paint great murals on the ceilings and craft stained glass.

We've been relegated to macaroni crafts and face painting at church events.

This is where my church is different. We have a growing body of artists within the church community, and we do what we can to support one another. They let us be who we were meant to be. They let us share this little known truth: Art is worship.

Maybe you don't believe in God. Maybe you believe you got here by some cosmic accident or an evolutionary blob of goo. All I can say is....that is some extraordinarily awesome goo to make us so individually unique and creative.

Last Sunday, several artists were allowed to paint on the side of the stage during church service. Mike got to participate at the 11:30 am service. This was my experience as a person sitting in the pews.

Staring at his blank canvas before service began.

It felt small and intimate.

Bright lights.

I think I had the best seat in the house.

Mike continued to paint when our pastor came up on stage to teach.

And abstract piece that says, loved.

Love being a part of this church, and the way they accept us crazy artist hooligans.

Every so often, the camera would pan over Michael's shoulder, and we got a glimpse of what he was doing up on the big screen. Under the soft blue lights, I saw him sharing his essence on the canvas and the beauty of it just overwhelmed me. I sat there, tears streaming down my face. It's another facet of my husband that I'm still discovering. His talent is a beautiful thing, despite being so misunderstood for so long. He was in his true element and it felt good.

I'm such a crybaby. *Wipes tears*

But can you understand why it touched me so? It's like getting a glimpse of what's inside a person, and how they worship God through their creativity. And that is a very beautiful thing.

Here is a short clip of last Sunday's service at Sandals Church from Viddy.


Movie review: Hotel Transylvania

Last week, my son Sol and I made our way from the hot, smoggy Inland Empire all the way to Century City to catch a screening of Hotel Transylvania by Sony Pictures Animation last week. Xenia from Raised By Culture asked me to be a guest blogger and review the movie and the timing was perf for a day at the movies and dinner the day after his 12th birthday. It would put a smile on his pouty little tween face. We don't get the chance for one-on-one time very often so he was excited.

The gist of the movie is this: A widowed Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) runs a lavish resort-style hotel for fellow monsters, a place where they can relax and get away from humans. You know, the ones always chasing them with a pitchfork and flames on a stick. Dracula is also a loving and sometimes overprotective daddy to daughter Mavis (played by Selena Gomez), who is about to celebrate her 118th birthday.

Like all teenagers on the cusp of adulthood, Mavis wants to go out and see the world but Count Dracula ain't trying to hear that. He goes to great lengths to keep Mavis within the walls of the hotel, where she will be safe and sound and away from humans. That is, until one kooky, free-spirited back-packer (voiced by SNL’s Adam Samberg) stumbles upon the hotel. You can tell he’s done some extensive world traveling because the fact that there are giants, werewolves, shrunken heads, skeletons, Frankensteins and mummies walking around doesn’t phase him in the least. Dracula tries to get rid of him but he captures the eye of Mavis and pretty soon, he’s dancing, rapping and capturing the hearts of all of the monsters in the place.

We enjoyed it. I was apprehensive at first because I hate 3D movies...but then I realized I am an old lady whose only experience with 3D is Captain E.O at Disneyland and that makes my eyes cross like I am a derp sooo [insert gulp of air] it was a nice surprise to discover that 3D movies are freaking awesome.

Funniest part of the movie was a Twilight reference. Dracula gives the side eye and sneers, this is how they represent our kind. The adults in the theater were cracking up.

3D glasses make the perfect hipster glasses.
After we got our hair straightened by a young Russian girl trying to sell me a $120 flat iron (she told me my hair was dry!), we stopped for a sweet treat in the mall.
Whenever we are in L.A, we make an effort to see my Pops who lives on the West side. He knows all the side streets and the best places to eat. I'm so laughing at Sol's overly enthusiastic look on his face in the pic below. Yes, the preteen phase has hit us with a vengeance.

Getting ready to have some dinner.

Mmmm, sushi! It was so good.
The rest of us wanted Cuban food at Versailles, but the spoiled birthday boy and his request for sushi won. Not that I'm going to complain about having sushi. We ended our night with gelato--coconut gelato to be exact. It was swoon-worthy!

We had a great time spending time with family and watching Hotel Transylvania. The movie comes out this Friday, September 28th. Go and see it!

Disclosure:  raisedbyculture.com was invited by Sony Pictures Animation to check out Hotel Transylvania.  All thoughts are our own. 


Andy Warhol-inspired: Pop Art portraits

I recently started teaching art classes again and it feels so good! It is a privilege to guide a young person through the creative process. I've loved art ever since I was a small child. I can remember being in preschool when I was very, very young and when everyone ran over to grab a red tricycle, the canvas and paintbrushes set up on tiny easels on the blacktop would call out to me. I remember that pull and I was only around four years old at the time.

In my opinion, every child is an artist. Some just need a little encouragement to let their inner artist come out and play.

Inspired by my rad Campbell Soup Limited Edition Andy Warhol soup cans from Target marking the 50th anniversary of Warhol's iconic artwork,  I decided to create a Pop Art-inspired project for my students.

My lovely cans that are awaiting a shadow box so they can be displayed.

I've worked on this Pop Art project before, with a group of middle-schoolers back in 2009. Wow, time flies when you're having fun. Since I was working with a younger age group (kinder through fourth grade), I thought I would do as much preparation work before we got down to painting.

What you'll need:

  • Liquitex Matte Medium (Mod Podge or Collage Pauge would work, too. Just make sure it's matte)
  • Paint brushes
  • Watercolor paper
  • paint palette (inexpensive paper plates are perfect in this capacity)
  • water dish
  • paper towels and/or paint rag
  • Acrylic paint
  • Black and white inkjet printed copy of your portrait of choice
What I did to prepare the kids's photos was I went in and chose a really good portrait style shot. Then I opened it in Photoshop and posterized it, playing with the contrast until it had that "Pop Art" look to it. I created a grid, which gave me four images. You may just want one image, maybe you want three--it's totally up to you. The goal is to have something that looks like Warhol's silkscreen prints.


Once you get your image the way you want it to look, print it out. Laser printers work best because the ink doesn't bleed once you stroke the matte medium on top of it. I brushed the Matte Medium on the back of the print because it will act like a glue. Make sure it's positioned straight and put it on top of the watercolor paper. Smooth out any air bubbles--make sure it's nice and smooth. A brayer works great on this project. Once you've done that step, you are ready to brush the Matte Medium over the top of the print, too.

 See how some of the ink is coming off? Don't sweat it. It'll all be painted over anyway.

After my little group sat down at the table, we talked about Andy Warhol, his art, we looked through some of my Modern Art books (with all the nekkid paintings folded in so it wouldn't corrupt their young minds), and they oohed and aahed over my cool soup cans from Target.

Then they got started painting. Their choice of paint is totally up to you. Tempera paint works well but acrylic paint will be the most vibrant. I like to use inexpensive craft paint for these type of projects, They come in so many cool colors and they only cost a dollar and some change. Much easier on the wallet than artist grade acrylic paints.

Be sure they paint their background, using different colors for each square. They may or may not have taken my advice.

Miss Xixi and her fellow artistes.

Xixi's finished piece. I love that she made each square unique from the others. Those red eyes are creeping me out.

I totally want some green glasses IRL.

It was really fun to revisit this project. Now that I'm teaching art to kids once again, I'll be resurrecting some of the projects from Modern Art 4 Kids, with a tweak here and there.

Hope you have fun making this cool project!


Maybe he really can't do everything

So basically my little brother Jeshua is awesome. He blogs. He can sang. Check out his latest here. He can dance. He can cook delicious food. He can draw. We all know he can paint and he can craft. All the while making heads turn with his fierce DIY style.

And then there's all that hairrrr.

Hair and lips. Yeh, that's pretty much it.

People ask me all the time, "Is there anything that dude can't do?"

And so I pondered. And I pondered some more. And I think I discovered it. Discover for yourself.

It's good to know some people are still mere mortals. Check out more of BoifromIpanema's videos on Viddy.


My son the artist

My son Solomon is turning 12 this week, and I wanted to share a life lesson he learned over the summer. If he works hard and finishes a painting...someone might actually want to buy it.

Hopefully, the stacks and stacks of unfinished pieces in his parent's studio will be a cautionary tale.

Um, pardon me but...we can claim six kids, a crap load of laundry, homeschooling and trying to survive financially as an excuse for not always finishing our artwork. He is a preteen whose biggest problem is discovering there are no more limes to squeeze on his cucumbers and Tajin. He gives up on his paintings when he gets bored or he finds himself at a difficult step and he doesn't know how to resolve it. Both Michael and I try to encourage him to keep working, keep trying, keep painting, keep creating.

And this is what he came up with:

Boy Marley art never gets old. This is Sol's fourth Bob Marley-inspired painting.

Che Guevara, as requested by my nephew, who also happens to be a revolutionary.

Sol and the two paintings he sold. Make that money, boo! P.S If you don't know what C.R.E.A.M is, you better ask somebody.
Once Sol got his stack of cold hard cash, he paid off his debts and put the rest in savings. And by savings, I totally mean he deposited it at Grandma's Bank of California. Then, we talked about completing his goal of creating ten paintings in a year. He has two more to meet that goal.

We brainstormed ideas, trying to decide who would be his next portrait. One vote went to Lauryn Hill.  It's no secret that I love old school hip hop and rap, so the other vote was for Wu Tang's Old Dirty Bastard. Also known as ODB.

Also known as Dirt McGirt.
Also known as Big Baby Jesus.
Also known as Freeloading Rusty.
Also known as Osirus.

Solomon usually finds an image he likes on the interwebs. Then he opens it in Photoshop and creates a posterized portrait. Then he is free to draw, reproduce and start painting.
OBD's photo id for food stamps was classic.

I confess, I let him stay up late as long as he's working on his paintings. He's a good studio mate.

My mother has this saying in Spanish about how people tend to get moving when they are motivated by making money. But alas, it's late and I can't text her for the translation. But I get it. Sol was getting tired of seeing his paintings stack up and not having any money in his pockets, like his big brothers do. So he decided to sell them and make money.

I wish I learned this when I was his age. I love this little dude. His creativity and ability to execute things blows me away every single time.


Favorite midnight snack: Roasted Cauliflower

Us, thinking about what our midnight snack will be that night.
My husband and I are those mean parents that snack on yummy stuff after the chil'rens go to bed. That's right. We've been known to throw some serious Fat Man parties...Del Taco, burritos, donuts, brownies, Pop Tarts, In-n-Out, and ice cream to name a few treats.

It ain't called a Fat Man Party for nothing.

To be totally honest, we can't party like we used to. My heartburn-stricken ass is too fat and Michael's belly gets so swollen he looks like he swallowed a watermelon, so we've taken the Fat Man parties down a notch. These days, we eat yogurt, popcorn, fresh fruit and smoothies like two old people. Still, we try to get our midnight snack on. I'm going to let you in on my favorite snacks of the moment.

Roasted cauliflower.

What? I can totally see your WTF face right now. What kind of midnight snack is that? Not only does it smell like fart, it makes you fart.

Hol' up one minute.

Cauliflower may not be all that tasty, but I promise you, once you roast it....it is magical. Like, taste the rainbow, unicorns and koala bears dipped in glitter kind of magical. I can't remember where I read about it but I can bet my money on Martha Stewart magazine. Martha knows wassup.

This is how I do it.

  • Preheat the oven to 375.
  • I buy a big ole head of cauliflower. I never buy the bag of florets--it feels like cheating. Besides, I have this belief that the cauliflower will be tastier if the head is still intact. I know, I'm weird.
  • I grab my head of cauliflower and I break it from its stem, throwing away any leaves. I then create my own florets and spread them onto an ungreased baking sheet, like so:
The cauliflower will shrink while it cooks.

  • Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the cauliflower. Don't be stingy.
  • Sprinkle garlic salt (if you are extra fancy, throw a few freshly chopped cloves of garlic) and basil and then stir the cauliflower around so it's evenly coated.
  • Slide those puppies in the oven.
Now set your timer to....zero because basically you'll just keep peeking in the oven to see if its done. Usually that's around 25 minutes. The key is to get a nice, golden brown over all the tops. Then once that happens, let it cook a little longer so you can get lots of darker brown, crunchy tips. That is what you call cauliflower gold.

I swear.

Once you get the tray out of the oven, squeeze a little bit of lemon over it and then sprinkle a healthy dusting of Parmesan cheese. Stir. Serve immediately.

Or just be like us and eat while standing over the stove. At midnight.


Birthday wishes for my teenager

My oldest son just turned fifteen years old.


When people say, "Oh, time flies--enjoy them while they are little!", they aren't exaggerating. Just thinking about it takes my breath away.

This is the child who changed my heart. He made me a mother. He taught me how to love someone more than myself. He showed me the magnitude of God's love for me.

He was a scrawny little thing, only seven pounds, four ounces at birth. But despite his tiny package, he was my world. He is the first grandchild, so his mere presence brought oohs and aahs and coos whenever he entered the room. He was adored.

He still is.

Happy birthday, son.


Rockabilly Dia de los Muertos

Fall is coming. That means Day of the Dead is right around the corner. I can feel it in my bones. Sure, it's still a toasty 95 degrees here in Southern California, but every cell in my body knows that the Fall, and all of the amazing festivities that come with it (like Day of the Dead), are on the way.

Did I mention how super excited I am for Day of the Dead this year? Oh yeeeeh. Guess I did.

The cool, crisp weather. Scarves. Pumpkin lattes. Soup. Homemade bread. Oh and...

Sugar skulls.
Papel picado.
Calavera Frida Kahlo.
Hollywood Forever Cemetery on October 27th.
Face painting.
Los danzantes.
Pan de muerto.
La catrina y el catrin.
Life and death.


In readiness for this special day that comes once a year on November 2nd, I decided to create a tiny painting as a gift for a very dear cousin of mine. She is going to be married next year, and we recently celebrated her engagement. It felt good to breathe life into my sugar skulls again. It was like, hello old friends.

I dug into a pile of wood scraps that I have for such occasions. I had my son sand it down so it was smooth, then I applied an even coat of primer. Then I lightly sketched my design. I knew I wanted a simple portrait with a heart somewhere.

My cousin is really into leopard print. Must run in the family.

Awww, young love.

I used Nova Color Paint and Sharpie paint pens to work all the little details. I used to think this was cheating, but it just makes common sense to me now. I know I can work those little details with paint and brush and it would look fab but really, why? I can create the same effects with a paint pen in half the time. Paint pens for the win. Especially in black, since I like to add black outlines in my work. I sealed the piece with a coat of glossy Mod Podge and then popped it into a small frame which I had blasted with Krylon spray paint in red.

And now I'm off to plan some cool and uh-mazing stuff for Dia de los Muertos. Peace and love.


New obsession: Viddy!

As much as I like to say that I'm not one of those social media hoes, always tweeting and pinning and Instagramming and hashtagging every thing in sight but...I kinda am!


Can I claim that it's part of my job as a blogger? That will make me feel better about it, I guess. I was recently introduced to Viddy. Their tagline goes like this:

Turn everyday moments into perfect little movies.

You can post fifteen second clips and customize filters and background music. You can follow people, like, and comment to your heart's content, too.

Here are a few of my most recent videos:

My husband Michael skating in the moonlight.

My amazing church last Sunday.

Just got a new fountain in my front porch! I love water sounds.

Go ahead and download the Viddy app to your iPhone (Viddy will be available for Android soon!) and then follow Pearmama. If you are already on Viddy (yay!), let me know so I can follow you back!


End of summer fun with the Crafty Chica

Everyone keeps saying that summer is almost over. End of summer. Summertime is coming to a close. Hard to believe when it's still a toasty hundred degrees outside and you can crack an egg on the sidewalk.

To catch that last bit of summertime, we decided to take a trip to the beach so we could have a bonfire. It was perfect, not too crowded, the sun under a hazy blanket of clouds. We were all excited because Kathy and Maya were in town from Arizona, and they wanted to roast marshmallows with us! I was happy to have them finally meet the rest of the my family. The chil'rens needed no introductions because they knew exactly who they were from their videos.

Newport Beach under the clouds.

Oh hai, gurl.

Cyan said, the water is warm, come on in!

BoifromIpanemais always laughing at people wearing funny hats.

Handstands in the sand.

He's running to me.
Enjoying the bonfire.

Getting ready to roast some hot dogs.
The sunset was so amazing! I so wished Kathy was there so she could experience it--a California sunset dipping into the Pacific Ocean but curse you L.A traffic. When they finally arrived, the sun was set but it was still light enough for us to head back to the water.

We hoofed it to the shore which was no easy feat because it's like, a million miles from the fire pits at Huntington Beach. In between our convo, we had to have several chubby girl breathing moments.

"I'm so glad you guys are--gasp. Puff. Wheeze....."
"I know! I just wish we could've got here soon--puff. Wheeze. Gasp..."

That was pretty much sums it up. Kathy's dream was to get in the water all the way up to her nose. She came prepared--hotel towels and all. Mike and the kids jumped right in. Come on in, the water is warm! they called to us. As we were trying to coax Kathy into the water, I heard Xixi tell her, "Come on, Mama CrayCray!"

Only, in Xixi-speak, it sounded like this: Come on, mama kway kway!

Before the screams come smiles.
My amiga Lizzy basking in the beauty of the Pacific.
Once Maya guided Kathy into the water, all I could hear were her piercing screams. She sounded like a child on a rollercoaster. It was fun to watch!

Kathy and Maya holding hands. Boifromipanema and that hair.

Kathy, looking longingly back at the shore.

I thought maybe she was being tortured by the icy water but as I wet my feet, then my ankles, then my calves, the knees....then a splash slapped me at the waist--I realized the water wasn't icy cold, it felt amazing! However, I drew the line at getting my $40 Cacique bra wet. Mama didn't raise no fool.

Still, the skyline, the warm breeze, the warm waves, our friends, swimming in the ocean just like we did as small children, it was really magical. We spent the rest of the evening munching on goodies and roasting s'mores.

Sometimes friends on the interwebz become friends in real life. Yay for IRL friends.

It was a wonderful night. I really can't wait to do it again!

Go visit Kathy at Crafty Chica dot com for glitter and drama.
Then, go watch Maya in the Moment's love songs because she is totes cute.
After all that, check out BoifromIpananema on Viddy.

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