Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cartoonist uses art to build childhood imagination

Banana Man and Marshmallow Monster showed up at Gearhart Elementary School on Feb. 8 in the form of cartoonist Mark Kistler, who presented two how-to-draw in 3D assemblies.

Kistler's television series, "Mark Kistler's Imagination Station" has been broadcast for more than 20 years on PBS stations across the nation. The Gearhart Elementary School's Parent Teacher Organization sponsored the cartoonist's visit.

Gearhart Principal Sande Brown described Kistler's presentation as a real hands-on lesson.

"The kids had paper and pencils so that they could participate and not just be observers," said Brown. "The students learn a lot better by doing and not just watching. That's why this presentation had so much more value to it."

According to Brown, Kistler's outgoing personality helps him connect with the students.

"Through this presentation, the children see someone other than a teacher who actually has a career doing something that they could aspire to be," said Brown. "Because we don't have an art teacher here at our school, this presentation also helps the students learn important art skills."

During the presentation, Kistler uses an overhead projector and a computer with the cartoons beamed to two screens in front of the assembly. He leads the students in drawing cartoon images like Banana Man and Marshmallow Monster.

But it is not a basic drawing or cartoon presentation. Kistler actually becomes one of the kids. Adding wild hair on one of the images, he draws and lets out yells. He also uses a small red sound box with crowd applause to reward the students for their drawings.

The students roar with laugher and cheers.

"I loved it, it was so much fun because he had so much entertainment along with it," said fourth grade student Dalton Smith. "He was making all the kids laugh while he was pretending to make the sounds of his (cartoon) characters, like screeching."

Fifth grade student Sami Thornton said she learned a lot at the presentation.

"I thought it was totally awesome," said Thornton. "Actually, I showed my mom, and she thought my drawings were awesome, too. The best part was when he was drawing the craters, I really liked his techniques."

"It was really fun doing the 3-D, because I've never seen a cartoonist before," said third grade student Angela Flores-Reyes.

Kistler noted his 35-year background as a teacher helps him connect to each student during the 3D presentation.

"I've learned by watching other master teachers," said Kistler. "But it is the teachers here at Gearhart School that are the heroes. They have the kids all day. I just have them for one hour. I have such admiration for the teachers here."

Kistler's goal is that each local student would appreciate drawing a little more after his presentation.

"This is like teaching someone how to read," Kistler said. "You know when you read a good book and how you get into that world. That's how drawing is for me. Time and space disappear. It's a joy and a passion for me."

Kistler calls drawing a fundamental human communication skill.

"It's an ability that we all have when we are kids, but at some point we believe we can't draw," Kistler said. "I want to shatter that myth. Everybody can draw."

Kistler acknowledges more and more college students are emerging with the skill to draw and using that skill to enter the entertainment field.

"Yes, I suspect we will see more and more full length 3D cartoon movies," Kistler said. "They are like the Internet. They are here to stay. The young cartoonists are able to hone that excitement they have for technology, for the computer, the social network, or for animation and put it to use using their imagination. But the first skill they must have is that drawing ability."

According to Kistler each child possess an imagination.

"That is the key," said Kistler. "They can use that imagination and go to infinity and beyond."

Kistler, 47, lives in Houston, Texas with his wife and their four children.

"I flew 4,000 miles to draw a screaming marshmallow with these children and their teachers," Kistler said. "Is this a great job or what? It is a dream come true."


1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    GREAT to find you are still active on Blogspot, but a long time ago we used to correspond and I thought I should let you know that "Jane Jaunts" should be back on line again soon - as soon as I have moved into my new home and sorted things out a bit.
    It's been 4 years, yes FOUR, since my last post and since we were in contact. A lot of things have changed and I have been doing some growing up, although my 'preferences' remain the same and I still haven't really settled down and become a particularly respectable citizen. I never did get back to ballet and, instead, I earn my crust through writing.
    Anyway I DO hope you are fine and still around and blogging. If you are, do let me know when you have a moment.
    For now I'll just send you BIG hugs