Category Archives: School

Santa Cruz High Schoolers Take Doodling During Class Very Seriously

Doodling is very much a part of life in school. Students the world over indulge in this meditative activity, often during class. As a drawing coach in high schools, I encourage doodling as a way to explore spontaneous expression and creative problem solving.

This year I encountered Corey Chrysler and Arastas Duran, two students who are crazy serious about doodling. I wanted to see what would happen if I nudged them both toward creating abstract and surrealistic compositions. In the image shown above, what started as a lesson in drawing realistic proportions of a skull ended in a brilliant abstract riff by Corey. Below, the two 17 year-old sketchers share their thoughts and “random nothings”.

corey-DSCN0765
Corey Chrysler

Age: 17  Hometown: Santa Cruz  City of Birth: Santa Cruz  Interests: Music, skateboarding  Favorite Artists: Alex Grey, Vincent Van Gogh  Favorite Music: Misfits, Suicidal Tendencies, Atmosphere, A Perfect Circle  Pets: Bobo the cat, Bully the bull dog, Cali the king snake

Corey is a mild-mannered teenager who takes time to ponder his next drawing. Then with iPod earplugs locked in position and playlist selected, he drops into the doodle zone. Musical rhythm can be seen in a lot of his highly imaginative drawings. A strong influence in his work comes from close to home. “My dad has drawn around me all my life, so I’ve always been drawing off and on.”

Other than our Drawing Lab lessons at Louden Nelson Community School, Corey is pretty much self-taught. Even with this year’s burst of surrealistic and abstract drawing he remains humble. When asked if he considers himself an artist Corey simply replies, “Artistic yes. But artist, no.”

Drawing is a creative outlet for Corey. “It makes school worth showing up on time for. Art helps me express myself on a daily basis. I don’t think I could go long without starting some kind of art project.” And when asked how drawing improves his world he replies, “Drawing gives me the chance of surprising myself and that can make my day!”

Corey pays attention. He watches the news and listens to a lot of music for the inspirational triggers that get his work going. When taking time to study Corey’s pencil and charcoal drawings you begin to see images of topics that interest him, ranging from world peace to “random nothings and sometimes trees.”

Corey Chrysler knows the challenges of learning to draw and offers words of wisdom to those viewing student work, “Art is subjective so never tell anyone that they can’t draw something great.”

Draw on, man.

Corey’s Drawing Gallery:

corey-DSCN0791 corey-DSCN0770 corey-DSCN0793 corey-DSCN0771

 

 

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Arastas Duran

Age: 17  Hometown: Santa Cruz  City of Birth: Santa Cruz  Interests: Doodling (of course!), meditation, gardening, psychology, philosophy  Favorite Artists: Hasn’t been able to choose, doesn’t think he ever will.  Favorite Music: Jazz  Pets: Cares for 3 rabbits: Lionel, Biscuit, and Bananacakes; 2 cats: Ophelia and Pheobe

Arastas Duran’s earliest memories of doodling date back to his early years in elementary school. When the classroom lesson wasn’t interesting Arastas says, “I’d draw to focus myself so I wouldn’t disrupt classmates.”

Ever since his childhood desire to doodle, Arastas has been able to channel his drawing into a form of meditation and problem solving. “I find that drawing, done correctly, can help me think about things and process them more smoothly. I find myself doodling at times when working on a math problem or writing an essay. Yet, if I’m not careful I can begin to draw an essay.”

During the past few years he has taken his drawing more seriously. An avid sketchbook drawer, lately Arastas has devoted his efforts to drawing on his iPhone and digital tablet. Inspired by nature and his love of music, his intricate labyrinths of intense line work reveal his spontaneous drawing method. He says, “I can have a sort of flash or glow of an image or a movie-like process in my mind’s eye. I sometimes guide the image to create a pre-structure to base the drawing off of, like a formula.”

Arastas’ Drawing Gallery:

arastas1 arastas2  arastas4

This meditative process then triggers deep emotions that are translated by his drawing. “I think I usually get inspired by feelings, not so much as what causes the feelings, but the interpretation/processing of the feelings. Drawing seems to be the best translator I can operate with ease.” He adds that, “When I draw from imagination, anything goes. I like to try and sync my movements with feelings, the environment, thoughts, and music.”

Pages from Arastas’ sketchbooks:

 

Arastas Duran knows he will always draw but doesn’t see it as his main occupation in life. “I have the itch to help those in need, those who suffer from harmful governments in society. I have no idea what the future holds, so I don’t presume.”

In closing, when asked how drawing improves his world, Arastas Duran replies, “I think it helps me learn how to express myself and it’s like a muse to me. I constantly find myself in awe when I draw, especially when others draw. I have time and time again been reminded that improvement is infinite.”

To view more of Arastas Duran’s work on Deviant Art click here.

I Can’t Draw

Originally posted 9/09:
It’s that time again–back to school! Today I’m planning drawing lessons for schools in Santa Cruz and Monterey, California. I’m also preparing for the inevitable group of students who will lay down the gauntlet at the very first moment of class, proclaiming outright, “I! Can’t! Draw!”

Indeed, I faced the first defiant outcry even before the first day of school. Last week, while discussing the drawing course with teachers at a small alternative education school, a student overheard her name added to the course roster. A look of horror crossed her face as she blurted out, “No way! I can’t draw.”

As she spoke I leaned over to look at the papers on her desk. I noticed she was doodling with a pen on a folder. It was a wonderful abstract doodle, composed of intricately woven lines and delicate shapes. “Perfect start. I’ll see you in class next week,” I replied.

Driving home, I remembered one particularly defiant high school drawing student last year. From the moment pencil hit paper Alex let me know, in no small way, that he didn’t know how to look at things then draw them. Each time he gasped in frustration, my return volley was firm encouragement. “Compare what you’ve drawn to what you’re looking at, keep looking for accurate proportions.”


Alex’s drawings

That was pretty much how it went as we continued drawing through the lessons, from simple cartoon characters to natural forms.

Then one day during class, while drawing from a picture by the muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros, Alex glared up at me and quietly said, “I hate you Rob, and I hate drawing.”

I replied, “Yeah I know, but look at this amazing sketch you’re doing.” He smiled slightly and continued shading the background behind the figure of the woman.

And so it goes. This week, every drawing teacher across the land will rise to the challenge. Elementary and middle school teachers, drawing instructors such as Mona Brookes, and university professors such as Dr. Betty Edwards will step into their classrooms and hear the familiar ring of those three fateful words: “I can’t draw.”

Smiling patiently, they will say to themselves, “Ah, but you can.”