Painting Class: The Art of the Tar Pits

La Brea buffs'll put brush to canvas at "Paints and Pleistocene."

That ol' burbling pit sitting at the northwest corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Curson Avenue, the one with the iconic family of mammoths, has been known to attract a brush or two in its time.

After all, delicate brushes are among the tools used to carefully remove dirt from the tiniest of fossils, those wee bones and bits of natural matter regularly removed from famous Ice Age site (and, yes, current excavation efforts are centered around Project 23 and other spots deeper within Hancock Park, and not the mammoth-laden "Lake Pit").

But different brushes will come into play on Saturday, May 14 at "Paints and Pleistocene." The day-long make-art activity, which will offer time slots for both beginning painters as well as intermediate and advanced artists, is all about capturing the beauty, mystery, and fossil-fabulousness of one of LA's best-loved natural landmarks.

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The art-cool event'll rev up at the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, which sits adjacent to the Lake Pit. Reserving your space is key, and note that both kids and adults are welcome. Prices and such? Find 'em here.

So, what will you summon via your paints and canvas? A giant sloth? A dire wolf? Perhaps a mastodon eating his lunch? Or one of the most storied long-ago denizens of the area, the beautiful saber-toothed cat?

And where will you hang your finished work of art at home? Important stuff to consider.

It's always fantastic when science and art dovetail, but this isn't the tar pits' first foray into the creative field: TARFEST is an annual music and art to-do that happens right around the beginning of autumn, and, of course, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art sits next door to the Lake Pit (and the Craft and Folk Art Museum across the street).

Really, though: How big and shiny will you make your saber-toothed cat's teeth? These are the essential questions to ponder as you head out for a pleasant, painterly day at the famous fossil site, the one located on the always marvelous Miracle Mile.

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