Ron Arias shows one of his beach scenes drawn from a photograph of the strand behind him. Photo by Chelsea Sektnan
Ron Arias, a 71-year-old L.A native and world traveler, has his own Wikipedia page. A former People magazine journalist, Arias spent most of his life chasing heavy-hitting stories of struggle, celebrity and triumph. He is most famous for his stories of survival and for traversing many of the most dangerous areas of the world. He has turned many of his adventures, including his time in the Peace Corps, into novels.
These days Arias can often be found in his home workshop in Hermosa Beach molding clay and drawing calm South Bay beach scenes.
“It’s a different world,” said Arias. “To me this is more contemplative. Journalism is go-go-go.”
As a full-time writer, Arias never had time to sit down and work with his hand and only thought he could draw stick figures.
“I never knew I could draw. I couldn’t even draw a face, just a smiley face,” said Arias.
When he retired he automatically thought he would continue writing, because, “A writer writes.” But after teaching biography writing classes Arias wasn’t feeling the usual inspiration and knew it was time to make a change. Years before, he had taken a pottery class, but his hands wouldn’t mold what he wanted and he moved on. While Arias was adjusting to retired life, his wife Joan was taking a class at El Camino College, and just to fill-in the hours he started a ceramics class and realized that unlike before, his hands knew what to do.
“I didn’t know I had the ability to work with my hands, not just my brain,” Arias said. “I saw someone cleaning up a tub of clay and fell in love with it when I first touched it.”
He finds throwing pots and painting scenes calming and even while on vacation seeks out local potters and sculptures to learn about their different styles and processes.
He began painting beach scenes, and Bryce Toney, owner of the local store “Curious…”, recognized his skill and asked him to create a few pieces for his shop. Now, Arias spends much of his time creating new pieces and finding inspiration in the colors and scenes of local beaches, street scenes and his most famous drawing, a whale tail diving into the bay.
“To me the white [of the clay] is a canvas,” said Arias. “I’m gonna paint something that inspires me. I live here, I like the place; I’m part of the community. In a way I’m creating something to give back.”
Arias’ pieces range from $20 – $50 and can be found at “Curious…” at 128 Pier Ave, Hermosa Beach. He also does custom scenes. B