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Sound Bites - Issue #50- October 2017

On the Cover
(Neuroscience) n (Art) = { Todd Carpenter }

Todd CarpenternaTodd Carpenter

Todd Carpenter - LandscapeTodd Carpenter - Landscape

Todd Carpenter - Landscape ITodd Carpenter - Landscape I


Painting instructor Todd Carpenter did not take the typical route to become an artist. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from UCLA in Psychobiology and a Master's degree from UC San Diego in Neuroscience. After college, he spent seven years as a product engineer and head of R&D at a medical products company in San Diego.

But in 2004, having saved some money, he turned to art, pursuing painting, photography and sculpture full time. And he's been very successful at it -- his works have been displayed in dozens of solo and group exhibitions throughout the world and he has been featured in nearly 20 publications, frequently garnering high critical praise for his work.

For example, Visual Art Source recently lauded him for his "Shadows Discarnate" show of paintings at KP Projects in Los Angeles: "If one dreamt in black and white, Todd Carpenter's 'Shadows Discarnate' offers a perfectly realized noir reverie. So precise and delicately rendered as to appear photographic, Carpenter's exquisite black, white and grey oil on board works have an inward glow of pre-dawn light, a captured, dusky-moment. These neutral toned works are poetic images of a hauntingly real Los Angeles."

"I think I've always been interested in science and art," Carpenter says, noting that his parents and grandparents had various artistic interests.

"I'm still interested in science but what I eventually turned away from was the lack of creativity in science, he adds, saying that his original plan was to get a doctorate in science and seek a career in academia.

Indeed, Carpenter takes a scientific approach to his art and to teaching art and he is interested in the connections between art and science, in particular Neuroaesthetics, the biology underlying the creation and appreciation of art.

The connections are complicated, he says, and many questions are still unanswered -- for example, why does an individual like one piece of art but not another or why are visual things connected to emotion? His paintings -- which are rendered mostly in black and white and which convey the depth and mood of landscapes through the careful portrayal of light -- often explore the mechanisms of perception. They examine, among other things, how the depiction of light can impart realism to paintings.

Like his paintings that connect art and science, Carpenter's career has similarly straddled the two fields, and he has taught classes in subjects as diverse as neuroscience, environmental science and photography.

A Koreatown resident, who is married to Hee-Kyung, Carpenter has been teaching painting classes at SMC Community Ed since Fall 2016.

What do you like about teaching?

1. That it makes me examine a subject more deeply. I probably learn more as a teacher than as a student. 2. When a student surprises me with a new or unexpected idea, painting style, etc.

What's the craziest thing you've ever done?

Possibly the times I turned away from a secure career path -- first when I left neuroscience research and second when I quit being a product engineer. In both cases the outcome was worth the risk -- as with many crazy things.

What is your idea of a perfect day?

For me a perfect day would have to have something of the unknown, and therefore would be unknowable now, so I don't know the answer to this question. It is always out there, ahead.

What is one of the best compliments you ever received?

To circle around that question, when it comes to my paintings I like it when occasionally someone compliments me on one of my weirder or less-typical pieces, as I feel such viewers may be thinking more deeply about my work.

What was the last picture you took with your phone?

I often have a camera on me, so I don't take many photos with my phone. The last picture I took with my phone was probably something practical, such as a map posted at a hiking trailhead.

What book(s) are on your nightstand now?

"Art and Physics," by Leonard Shlain and "The Consul's File," by Paul Theroux. Both most likely came from a thrift store.

Anything you would like to add?

The real answer to #2 -- the craziest things I have done -- probably happened during my travels, but I won't go into those.

Carpenter will teach "Experimenting with Oil Paint in the Winter Session, beginning Jan. 2. 

*** Note: the n symbol is used for Intersection in mathematical equations. ***

What's New
Kudos to Nancy Kaye & Her "FemaleImage" Project

Alice Meyering

Nancy KayeNancy Kaye

A photo from Nancy Kaye?s series called 'FemaleImage'A photo from Nancy Kaye's series called 'FemaleImage'

from the desk of Alice Meyering

I'm always happy to share good news from our instructors, and so it is with great pleasure that I inform you that Photography instructor Nancy Kaye has been selected to be a presenter at Open Show LA #43: Venice Arts Gala. Her presentation will be at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 1 at Venice Arts, 13445 Beach Ave., Venice.

Open Show is an event where photographers submit photo projects to exhibit and discuss. Nancy was selected to be one three people to present work. Her project is an ongoing photo series called "FemaleImage," which is about women's preoccupation with image -- the striving to meet an unrealistic standard, to conform to an ideal, or, sometimes, to challenge it.

Nancy, who teaches The Art of Hand-Tinting Photographs and photo essay classes for us, is a freelance photojournalist who has worked in London, New York and Los Angeles for a variety of news companies, including the Washington Post, the New York Times, and Associated Press. She brings a narrative style to her editorial, commercial, and fine art photography. Her images are in many books, among them the bestseller "Wired" by Bob Woodward, "The History of American Ceramics" (Abrams), and "Yesterday and Tomorrow: California Women Artists."

Congratulations, Nancy!

Don't forget to visit our website for Winter classes, registration now open.

Behind the Scenes:
Nathalie Kramer's "Lucky" in Prestigious Literary Journal

Nathalie KramerNathalie Kramer

Santa Monica ReviewNathalie Kramer's "Lucky" is published in the Fall 2017 issue of the Santa Monica Review

Fiction writing instructor Nathalie Kramer''s short story "Lucky" is included in the fall issue of Santa Monica Review, a prestigious literary journal published twice yearly by Santa Monica College. "Lucky" is the story of a 12-year-old French-American girl from Paris who spends the summer of 1978 with her American family in a dilapidated beach house on the Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica.

How do you feel about being published in Santa Monica Review?

I am honored; some of my favorite writers are published in the Review

What appeals to you about fiction writing?

To create a world, but we do that in memoir too. Perhaps it is the use of my imagination.

Tell us briefly about your life -- you are French, but you live in L.A. Why and how did you move to the United States?

I grew up in Paris and Corsica. I studied theater in New York and came to L.A. to work on a play and ended up staying here.

Do you find it difficult to write in English?

Since moving to New York, London and California I have written only in English. Even though French is my first language I would find it more difficult to write in French -- my writing voice has always been in English.

What do you like about teaching at SMC Community Ed?

The diverse groups of students.

Can you provide one to three tips to a beginning writer?

Read. Read. Read.

Nathalie Kramer will be teaching Mindfulness and Fiction Writing in the Winter Session beginning Jan. 18.

The Buzz About Our Winter Session and Open House!

Michelle KingMichelle King, Director Career & Contract Ed.

Instructor Jackline Daneshrad  at last year's open houseOur Annual Open House allows prospective students to talk to instructors about their classes

Vegetable GardenA new class offering this winter: Vegetable Garden Design for Landscape Designers

It might be autumn for you, but it's feeling wintry in my office -- because we're all thinking about Winter Session 2018 and planning for our Open House in February 2018. And the plans are exciting.

Check out our terrific offerings -- more than 80 classes in all -- for the Winter Session, which begins Jan. 2. We have several new classes, including Fashion Design courses -- Sewing Machine Boot Camp, Pet Couture: From Rags to Riches, and Fashion Tech Pack I -- as well as Lifestyle Portraits, Vegetable Garden Design for Landscape Designers, and Intermediate Sumi-e Painting. In addition, our incredible architecture and design expert Eleanor Schrader returns with new lectures: "The Glamour of Old Hollywood: Architecture of the Stars" and "History of Hotels in America."

Our Annual Open House is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Room 123 at our Bundy campus. Like last year, we will offer a special 15 percent discount for anyone who enrolls in classes at the event.

 This past January's Open House was such a success that we are looking to make the 2018 event bigger and better. The energy, enthusiasm and excitement of our 128 visitors -- a more than a 50 percent increase from the previous year -- were palpable. More than 20 instructors volunteered to be at tables to allow prospective students and others to ask questions and get a sense of the diverse mix of courses we offer. Instructors and students -- including bipolar poetry student John Young -- made wonderful presentations that demonstrated the breadth and depth of our the eclectic course offerings -- from writing to French, from fitness to screenwriting, and from landscape design to Sumi-e painting.

So, please mark your calendar for Feb. 3, 2018. More details on our Winter Session and Open House will be forthcoming in Sound Bites, e-blasts and our social media outlets!

Meanwhile, we welcome your questions, comments or suggestions. You can reach us at or (310) 434-3400.

Warm regards,

Michelle King
Director of Career &
Contract Education