Category Archives: Natural Bridges School

Sketcher Spotlight: Gianna Goodpaster



Gianna Goodpaster is a Santa Cruz teenager who doodles, draws, and paints. What sets Gianna apart from other students is her quiet, self-determined journey of creative exploration. After viewing the extreme variety of media she experiments with, we’re compelled to jump on board just to see where her extraordinary journey will lead in the future.

(Click on images to view larger details.)

In fact, Gianna is a daring shapeshifter when it comes to artistic styles. During the past couple of years, having her as a Draw to Learn student required me to keep a wide assortment of tools and subject matter on hand. Whether doing study sketches in charcoal, highly detailed ink renderings, or vivid pastel compositions, she shifts creative gears effortlessly. Gianna’s impulse to create is apparent the moment she walks into the classroom. Quickly choosing her materials, she sets her iPod; then explodes with unpredictable, irresistibley cool drawings.

I often use Gianna’s drawings as inspiration for lessons at high schools and in my studio. Largely self-taught, her expressive lines and powerful tonal work resonate with other students–true signposts of becoming an artistic powerhouse in the future. But for now Gianna Goodpaster is quite content in relaxing with her cat and creating art.

Interview: Busy preparing for graduation from Natural Bridges High School in Santa Cruz, Gianna took time to answer questions for our Sketcher Spotlight. Enjoy catching a glimpse of her exciting creative journey! (Click on images to view larger details.)

Age: 17
Home town: Fresno (Currently resides in Santa Cruz)
City of Birth: Mountain View
Interests: Besides doing art I like to go to music events and go adventuring in the woods.
Favorite artist: Adam Scott Miller
Favorite music: I like a very wide range of music. Right now I listen to a lot of electronic music.
Pets: I have 4 dogs and 3 cats in my household, but only one of the cats is mine. His name is Little Man and he is three years old. I also have a dwarf bunny named Saddam.

When did you start drawing and when did you first consider yourself an artist?
I started drawing as soon as I could pick up a crayon just like all of the other kids. I however started drawing much more often when I was around 13. I’ve never thought of myself as an “artist”;  I’m just somebody who creates art more frequently than most.

How did you learn to draw?
Besides learning basic shading skills in middle school from art class, nobody has really ever helped me learn to draw. I’ve always just learned how to draw things from pictures or from repetition.

What are the sources of inspiration for your artwork?
My main inspiration comes from spiritual beliefs, dreams, and daydreams.

How is drawing important in school and daily life?
Drawing is pretty much the only enjoyment I’ve ever gotten from being in school. As for my daily life it is one of the only things that helps me relax, and is the most effective way of relieving boredom.


What are your favorite things to draw?
I doodle faces of women quite a lot. When I’m not just doodling though, I don’t have anything in particular I draw. A lot of my art is just swirls with lots of colors with some sacred geometry.

Which tools and techniques do you prefer?
When I doodle I usually just use a black pen, but sometimes I like to use oil pastels. I mostly just paint with oils though. I like to just paint colors flowing or swirling into one another, and then after it dries I put shapes and other things over it.

What do you see doing with drawing and your future?
As of right now I don’t have any plans to do art as a career. I’ve sold a few paintings here and there for more art supplies, but I don’t know how much I would want to do it as a career. Not having creative freedom and following deadlines doesn’t sound that appealing.  So for now I’m just doing it for enjoyment.

What is your process of making art from observation and imagination?
I draw from observation so that I can learn how to draw something without having to see it physically. I make most of my art on my bed, even my paintings. I usually set up all of my painting supplies on my bed, put on music, and sit with my cat as I paint.

How does drawing improve your world?
Drawing is just one of the only things I really like doing, and it’s always nice to create something beautiful for yourself or for somebody else.

Natural Bridges Sketchers Explore Form and Color

Natural Bridges students are rolling into the second quarter of our Draw to Learn program with focused, outstanding work. In the photo, shown above, Briana works on a color pastel drawing after the artist Piablo Picasso.


In the above photos, students from last year continue with their interests in subject matter and media while new students learn about lines, shapes, patterns, form, proportions, positive/negative space, and tonal values.

Shown above, Natural Bridges sketcher Gianna continues her studies of plaster casts of faces and hands.

Students learn how to use charcoal to depict 3D form while looking at real life objects. Above left are Briana’s pencil studies of a pumpkin and larger finished charcoal drawing showing contours and shadows. To the right are realistic drawings of a pumpkin by Jade.

As students move from beginning level skills to exploring color and experimenting with various media, we’re beginning to see amazing results. Above left is Grace’s work-in-progress drawing of a peacock using soft pastels. Above right is Briana’s soft pastel drawing after a painting by Picasso.

NB Sketchers explore subject matter and drawing techniques. Above left is a character design sketch by Emilio. And to the right is a tightly rendered drawing by Jade showing accurate proportions and detailed line work.


We tried a fun assignment in abstract drawing and using lines as a language to express human traits and emotions such as anger, human energy, depression, and joy. The photo, above left, shows how Erik used the artist Kandinsky to launch into an abstract drawing. Above right is Frank’s abstract composition and his line studies of human traits.

And now… for the gallery of awesome drawings by all of our students…






















Natural Bridges School: Form, Contours, Color, and Abstract Drawing

It’s so cool to see the Natural Bridges sketchers experimenting with different drawing materials and trying new creative directions in their work. Some students, like Grace, shown above, are working with various kinds of charcoal; while others are exploring graphite and pastels. Drawing from observation and imagination is still the lesson mix for everyone as newer students focus on lines, shapes, and form. More advanced students are honing their skills in accurate, realistic proportions and abstract compositions. Also, a group of NB students is exploring Manga concept sketching in the classroom and Saturday workshops at the Scribbles Institute studio/classroom.































Natural Bridges: Weeks 7-10: Form, Contours, Tonal Values, Positive/Negative Space, Perspective

Originally posted 1/11: Natural Bridges Sketchers are taking drawing to exciting new levels! A very focused NB crew put together a lot of awesome study sketches showing the roundness and contours of veggies and various objects as they aimed for accurate proportions.We also got into using large format paper and charcoal to study texture, light, and shadows.

Upper left is Abel’s study of a squash and the upper right is his large-scale charcoal drawing. Lower left is Gianna’s large-scale charcoal drawing showing the form and texture of an apple. Lower right is Frank’s composition of different studies of a pumpkin.

Upper left is Elijah’s contour study of a a pumpkin. Upper right is Emilio’s contour sketch of a pumpkin. Lower left is Elijah’s contour drawing of an antique iron. Lower right is Abel’s study of the form of a coyote skull.

Students learned about 1 and 2-point perspective. Above left is Abel’s 2-point drawing of boxes. To the right is Frank’s 2-point drawing of buildings.

A very important aspect of drawing is learning to perceive positive and negative space. Upper left is Gianna’s use of the negative space around a flower to draw its form. Upper right shows how Gianna used negative space to draw the contours of an egret. Lower left is Andrea’s study of negative space around the egret. And to the right, she adds details forming its body.

Students also learned how to use gray tonal values to represent color. Above left is Elijah’s contour drawing showing the proportions of an aloe plant. To the right is Andrea’s aloe plant drawn with gray tones for the values of green.

You’ve absolutely got to check out the latest mind-blowing eXpReSsiOn sEsSiOn drawings by Gianna (upper left), Emilio (upper right), Frank (lower left and right), and others: Click here

Click ‘Read more’ below to view everyone’s drawings and Rob’s comments…
Great to have you stop in and draw with us! Excellent use of positive and negative space to sketch the contours and realistic form of the egret and tulip. Nice job of nailing accurate proportions. Hope to see you back in class soon–we can really take your skills to amazing levels.


Great to see you pushing into different techniques and drawing styles, it will help your direction in concept art and design. REALLY nice studies of the pumpkins–would love to see you go to large paper with charcoal :-) Be sure to check out your drawings in eXpReSsiOn sEsSiOn!


Your realistic drawing is improving in a BIG way, Andrea! Your observational sketches of the pumpkin, aloe plant, and egret merge your wonderful impressionistic style with accurate proportions. Keep it going :-)


Your willingness to explore techniques and ability to get into the Zone and focus shows in your latest series of work. Superb drawings–the true artist in you is starting to shine! You definitely should be pursuing visual art along with your musical future. Hope you can finish your M.C. Escher drawing of the columns.


Excellent progress in drawing from objects in real life, Elijah! Your contour study of the pumpkin is a great step in drawing realistically. And your drawing of the antique iron is an FANTASTIC example of accurate proportions and realistic contours! Keep loosening up your line work as you make study sketches of what you’re drawing. Hope to see the character development sketches you’re working on, too.


The positive/negative lesson of the egret was a huge breakthrough in drawing realistically. Your studies of the pumpkins punched you through to a whole new level of observational drawing. You did an excellent job of showing the curved contours of the larger pumpkin. And you really pulled it all together to show the curved form of the shell! Don’t forget to check out your concept sketches in eXpReSsiOn sEsSiOn: Click here


You’re one of the most improved sketchers, of the many students I’ve had in Fall/Winter 2010. Your large-scale charcoal work of the pumpkin and the study of the lantern show your hard work in drawing realistic, accurate proportions. The sky’s the limit for 2011!


Exquisite drawing, Gianna! Time to start building your portfolio for art school! :-) Remember to check out your work in the eXpReSsiOn sEsSiOn: Click here


The egret shows a superb study of positive and negative space! Hope to have you back in drawing class soon.