April 10 & 11, 2015 – Cartooning @ Moonah Arts Centre (Tas)

Just had a great couple of cartooning workshops at the brand-spanking new Moonah Arts Centre, which opened recently.  The new MAC building is quite a departure from the old space – lots of post-modern concrete & steel, with that MONA sheen that’s become a popular aesthetic around town.  The new design offers much more space all round, with designated areas for workshops, exhibitions, performances etc, allowing more flexibility in what the Centre can offer in their program, which has hit the ground running – check it out here or go have a look!

I used the main workshop room on Fri & Sat, and it was a great space to work in –  lots of natural light (glass doors opening into the courtyard) AND a full wall of whiteboard!


I worked with two cozy-sized groups, with four kids doing both days – great to see some familiar faces from previous classes and always wonderful to meet new drawing enthusiasts.


Both days were 5 hr sessions, and I was very impressed with the stamina of the kids all round, especially a couple of the younger ones.  I mixed it up a bit, played some drawing games with the Doodle Cards & Face Cards, and took some suggestions from the group, of things they wanted to draw.  I used these ideas to zoom in on some specific line techniques, using the thINK Process to deconstruct the drawing.

The first of these was a kind of Undead Astronaut, where we focused on curved lines, cylindrical effects and overlapping curves:

After this, Daniel requested a Jetpack.  Now, recently I’ve been revisiting a couple of childhood heroes, Wallace Wood & Basil Wolverton, who were both pioneers & masters of science fiction comic art from the 40s & 50s, so naturally I envisioned a very old school rocket pack.  Daniel soon corrected me, and a quick Google later we were looking at pics of real-life water-powered jetpacks, which look like heaps of fun.  This was a great opportunity to talk about getting “feel” into a line – in this case, what kind of lines capture something fluid like water…..including water that’s pushing someone into the air!

This focus on the “feel” or energy of a line flowed nicely into the next drawing we drew together.  Isabel had requested a Phoenix, which I used to explore using fluid lines to draw flames.

This is almost always a challenging shape for kids to capture, because its success really depends on making your line flow smoothly, and relaxing into a kind of swooshing rhythm as you draw.  I break the flame shapes down into the main elements – an S curve, a curved V – and encourage the students to just freeform with it.

This was a great exercise for the kids, flowed perfectly into our next drawing.  Rupert had requested a car (not a specialty of mine!), but when I quizzed him about what style it turned out he was after something old-fashioned.  Another quick Google search later, we found some great old cars from the 40s, including some hotted up – another opportunity to practise our flame-drawing technique!

I think these are my favourites of all the drawings, because every car has such distinct personality, and the sense of movement in some of them is fantastic:

We finished Friday’s session with some flipbooks & a bit of kamikaze cartooning on the whiteboard, where the kids challenged me to draw as many of their ideas as I could in the last 10 minutes – chaos!

Saturday’s session we started with the Doodle Cards, using them as idea triggers for their own creativity.  There were a couple of younger kids in the group, and sometimes this game helps them to relax their anxieties & expectations.  It also gives the kids a message that their own creativity is valued in the workshop:

After the Doodle Cards, we eased into some guided drawing with a request for a Secret Agent Chicken – he looked like this:

One of the youngest students, Elliot, was particularly apprehensive in the morning, being the young end of 8, and his mother explained that he also has difficulty with visual processing eg connecting and making sense of lines & shapes.  It was just as well his mum informed me of this because it enabled me to steer the workshop with him in mind, and I checked in regularly with him to make sure he was coping.

Fortunately he also had his older brother & sisters buoying him along, but the transformation in his confidence by the end of the day was pretty amazing.  Here is an example of his first drawing in the morning & the last drawing of the afternoon.  The second drawing (which he copied as I drew on the whiteboard) was very complex, with many details & very specific techniques, and yet what Elliot accomplished is really impressive:

doodles 12
rhinocericorn 5

This Rhinocericorn was an amalgamation of the other kids’ ideas: unicorn, evil pizza (with salami), marshmallow man, evil space cube, vampire first aid kit…the usual!  Here are some other versions:

We were all pretty brain-fried after that one, so we finished off the day again with some flipbooks to wind down.  Thanks to all the kids who came to create, and to Sean, Caroline & Eleanor at MAC for all your support!

harry tentacles