October 2009

Performing Art

Sela Ward finds a spiritual outlet in her cherished painting studio


sela ward, sanctuary, painting studio Jack Coble

Oscar Wilde wrote, “It is through Art and through Art only that we can realize our perfection; through Art and Art only that we can shield ourselves from the sordid perils of actual existence.” Actress Sela Ward certainly understands the sordid perils of the entertainment business, as well as the myriad stresses—sordid and otherwise—of contemporary life in Los Angeles.

When the day’s trials and tribulations conspire to deprive her of clarity and peace, Ward happily takes refuge in the civilizing calm of a private painting studio perched on a verdant hill above her home in Bel Air.

“At the risk of sounding cliché, painting nurtures the creative part of my soul,” she says. “My studio is the place where I can replenish that part of me and find balance.”

After double majoring in fine arts and advertising at the University of Ala­bama, Ward set painting aside to pursue acting (she returns to the big screen October 16, with the release of the thriller The Stepfather) and raise kids Austin, 15, and Anabella, 11. Then when she and entrepreneur husband Howard Sherman bought their home several years ago, the opportunity presented itself to return to her passion.

Architect Robbin Hayne worked with Ward to come up with a serene space that provides the essentials of a proper art studio—crisp white walls and abundant natural light. It functions as “an enveloping, comforting retreat” that does triple duty as a creative workspace, yoga studio and occasional guest house.

“Robbin suggested cantilevering the studio on the hillside between two ponds that already existed on the site,” the actress says. “You open the sliding doors, and you are surrounded by water and gorgeous plantings. It’s heaven.”

Hair: Campbell McAuley/ Solo Artists
Makeup: Bernadette Beauvais