Santa Inés Mission Mills Provides Limitless Inspiration at Kids Art Day

by Christa Clark Jones

“The artist’s world is limitless. It can be found anywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away. It is always on his doorstep.” ~Paul Strand

Families enjoying art activities at the Santa Ines Mission Mills. Photo by Christa Clark Jones.

On Saturday, July 26, kids and families were invited to a Kids Art Day at the Santa Inés Mission Mills, hosted by the Elverhoj Museum of History and Art in partnership with the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation as part of a celebration of the Mission Mills property.  On this serene day the natural beauty and history of the site offered abundant inspiration.

Leaving the entrance at Alamo Pintado Road, kids and families crossed a creek and passed by an olive grove.  After being immersed in the sun on a short journey to the mills, they found refuge under some trees where instead they explored and documented the site with their imagination.

One participant’s watercolor of the olive groves. Photo by Christa Clark Jones.

Project stations offered several hands-on art making activities, led by local artist and teacher Faith Nygren. They learned how landscape painters create composition, and using a viewfinder to isolate a picture, they created landscape paintings with watercolor. At another station they made solar prints from composition designs that included plant life found at the site.

Taking a break from their artwork, Mission Mills property steward Wayne Sherman led a tour of the mills, one of the earliest industrial sites in California, and surrounding property.

Sun prints made from nearby plants. Photo by Christa Clark Jones.

After a memorable day exploring this unique place and learning about the history of the site, perhaps their experience will inspire them to cultivate their creativity and find inspiration anywhere, both on adventures and even feet away from their doorstep.

Enjoy the newest exhibit at the Elverhoj Museum of History and Art, “Art from the Groves – Santa Inés Mission Mills” celebrating the Santa Inés Mission Mills property. The show features the artwork of 26 jury-selected artists and their interpretation of the site, on display through September 28.  Who knows, maybe the artists who attended the Kids Art Day will be featured in future exhibits!

For more information about the “Art from the Groves – Santa Inés Mission Mills” events and activities, visit


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