Yesterday I had an amazing opportunity to paint with a group of Luiseño children on the La Jolla Reservation north of San Diego. For over a decade, Dr. Norrie Robbins has been running the Science Explorers Club at reservations around San Diego with the express purpose of nourishing a love of the outdoors and sharing values that protect the earth.
Norrie and I connected by email while I was planning a trip to California and she generously offered to spend a day with me looking and collecting red in the local landscape. During our drive I learned a lot from her about the geological formation of the area and the traditional stories that accompany the deposits of colour. The whole trip was a blast!
When we arrived at La Jolla for that afternoon’s club meeting, we spotted a bright red swath of earth (a gabbro) at the reservation’s entrance and Norrie asked if we could do an impromptu paint making class. So, between the children’s excitement, Norrie’s knowledge of the landscape, and a little bit of direction from myself, we got to work! We harvested red soil, ground it in the naturally occurring granite basins, mixed it with egg to make paint, and then applied it to the rocks with our hands. With each step we creatively improvised, and learned a lot in the doing.
I am very grateful to Norrie and all the children who made this event possible—it was truly magical!