Thursday, May 24, 2007

Drawing & Cartooning Classes

I think that cartoonists and persons who know how to draw, who make their living at it; such as myself, do not seem to be the heroes or mentors that we once were. Therefore; the average kids are not so anxious to learn or apply themselves, to actually want to be able to draw better or learn to create their own cartoons, so much as in the past. Parents naturally think that their kids are the greatest, and the kids believe it, --so why bother to work hard or listen to the professional?

Personally, I find that taking the necessary time and effort to learn something, to be creative oneself,
is much more rewarding and fun, than just sitting there being entertained by others, who are having all of the fun.

I know that there are other artists or cartoonists, who do just cave in to the pressure and give up the exhausting and often unappreciated task of actually trying to teach anyone anything. They merely have students copy popular cartoons and everybody is thrilled, even though they have learned nothing at all other than how to copy someone else's cartoons. Which; by the way, requires not a professional to instruct the class.

Sometimes, parents and teachers just want to psychoanalyze, through the cartoons, what their kids are thinking about.

On the other hand, the true reward for a professional, is the thrill of watching someone who really pays attention, applying themselves to what is being taught, and than naturally excels because of it. I have been told that one of the creators of the cartoon character, Spongebob Squarepants, said that --I was his teacher! --when he was asked; locally by a mutual friend, if he knew me. And the reason I found some work on the "Doug" animated TV show, for Nickelodeon, was that I first heard that some of my ex-students were working on that show.

Anyone can learn to draw, but only few will apply themselves to learn how. It always amazes me, how few will take advantage of a good and rare opportunity when it comes along, when it is right there under their noses. It is their loss, and they don't even know it. They would rather copy cartoons, or watch someone else draw cartoons. Or just sit there and be entertained, or waste the precious time just goofing around with one another. Or some will draw, but pay no attention to what is being taught. They just sit there and do their own thing, doing a lot of drawing, but not becoming any better at it, than when they first came in. Although one does learn to draw by drawing; if they would listen to the professional, above the high praises of their parents, their skills would advance at a much faster rate. Eliminating just one common error in drawing, can eliminate thousands of errors that are made over and over again by someone who hasn't learned, or discovered it yet. Not listening to the teacher, while he is teaching, is a big mistake in drawing classes. It is almost impossible, and certainly a big waste of time, to try to teach the same thing over and over again, individually to each student, (although I do try to work with each student as best I can) when you can be teaching the whole class, enabling them to subjectively correct their own work.

However, the classes that I hold usually go very well --especially when the kids are there because they want to be. And they are fun to teach, because the children who apply themselves really do learn how to draw, whereas most people, including most adults, do not. The creative drawings done by my students stand out in a crowd, because of their drawing skills learned, far surpassing the flat or copied restricted drawings of their peers. I have seen a student of mine,or two, published in the paper, standing next to their art teacher, taking the credit for their superior drawing skills. The RSF classes do exceptionally well, because I have 15 classes to teach, over the three weeks. Most of the community schools, after school programs, that I teach are only about 6 sessions, once a week. So the RSF Program has always been a real treat, with substantial results, that I can be proud of.

Just because students can copy a cartoon, doesn't make them a cartoonist; but they, and their parents will get all excited over it, thinking their child is "gifted". So the incentive for the "gifted" student to actually learn anything goes out the window. And then when that "gifted" child discovers that drawing is way too hard to meet all the demands, he finally gives up, --because he never really learned how to draw in the first place! He, and his parents, thought he could draw, but he never learned how. Any copy machine could do just as good, or better, and faster.

Don Cole

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