Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

July 2, 2014

Students learn the finer points of drawing cartoons

TAHLEQUAH — Students in a special art class have been learning how to flesh out their graphics with dialogue.

“Cartooning With Storytelling,” one of two classes hosted by the Cherokee Arts Center this summer, ended its second week of class July 1. Both this class and a still-life painting class, to begin later this month, are taught by Valera Ainsworth.

Ainsworth began class July 1 by having her students show what they had been working on during the week.

Whitney Boyd, one of the two students currently in the class, had several pieces of anime-styled characters she had drawn. Ainsworth helped her correct the anatomy of one character, and on another made color suggestions.

“The only way to grow is to listen to criticism,” said Ainsworth. “You have to be open to different ideas to grow as an artist, and that is what criticism does.”

Ainsworth first approached the Cherokee Arts Center about teaching summer classes after she visited the Spider gallery a few months ago.

She had first taught a summer art course in California as part of the Upward Bound program for low-income students in a variety of difficult situations.

“They were wonderful students,” said Ainsworth. “They had some very expressive art, showing what all they were going through.”

After the art center agreed to host the class, Ainsworth posted cards advertising the class in local banks and gas stations.

The mothers of Ainsworth’s two current students found out about the class from these cards.

Both Boyd and Makiya Deerinwater drew cartoons before enrolling in the summer class, but still wanted to be part of the class when each of their mothers told them about the opportunity.

“I just like learning new things,” said Deerinwater.

She showed Ainsworth her book on drawing a particular style of anime character called a “chibi,” which Ainsworth had never seen before.

In turn, Ainsworth pointed out the different shading techniques used in the book, then showed both girls how to use the techniques in their own drawings.

“They are actually adding to my class syllabus,” said Ainsworth.

Ainsworth said she learned the most in her schooling through the constructive criticism of others about her work.

“I just love art in general,” said Boyd, explaining why she wanted to take the class.

Last week, the class focused on older cartoons like Popeye, and together, Ainsworth and her students compared them to Totoro and other Japanese characters.

“The eyes are all about drama; even Popeye with the eye just sticking out adds its own drama,” said Ainsworth in comparing the different styles.

The class closed in a discussion on graphic novels. They compared the styles used in “Maus,” an award-winning graphic novel by Art Speigelman about his father’s experience as a Polish Jew in the Holocaust; and “Walking Dead,” a graphic novel by Robert Kirkman about zombies, which has been turned into a popular television show.

“It’s more the illustration that tells the story,” said Ainsworth.

The still-life painting class beginning later this month will focus on Oklahoma, and is for adults and older teens.

“Oklahoma is such a beautiful place with a rich landscape to work with,” said Ainsworth.

She said the cartooning class is also still open to students who would like to still join it. Both classes will be offered through the Cherokee Center Arts Center. “It’s a nice opportunity for this community,” she said.


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