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HomeMoviesLearn to draw with Mark Kistler : NPR

Learn to draw with Mark Kistler : NPR

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Mark Kistler, aka Commander Mark, stars in a brand new documentary, The Secret Cities of Mark Kistler, that tells the story of Kistler’s legacy and the way it all occurred.

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Mark Kistler, aka Commander Mark, stars in a brand new documentary, The Secret Cities of Mark Kistler, that tells the story of Kistler’s legacy and the way it all occurred.

Corgan Footage

Commander Mark had massive shiny eyes and a large mustachioed smile large enough to match his magnetic persona. He wore shiny pink army coveralls with a bandoleer stuffed with — not bullets, however magic markers.

His catchphrase was “Dream it. Draw it. Do it.” Again within the Nineteen Eighties and early ’90s, tens of millions of youngsters tuned in to PBS to observe Commander Mark create magical worlds along with his pen, educating them how to attract alongside the best way.

And 40 years later, a brand new documentary — The Secret Cities of Mark Kistler — tells the story of Mark Kistler, the artist behind the exhibits The Secret Metropolis, Draw Squad and Creativeness Station.


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Born in Ohio, Mark Kistler grew up in Southern California, the youngest of 5 children with a single mom who labored as a nurse. He says his mother inspired him to observe his ardour for artwork early on, shopping for him artwork provides and letting him flip his bed room closet right into a tiny artwork studio.

He cherished Disney animations and dreamed of changing into an animator. Then, as a teen, he started educating drawing workshops for youths, via his native parks and rec programming. There, he fell in love with educating artwork and got here up with a objective to show one million children to attract.

It did not appear a loopy thought, he says, as a result of he actually believed anybody might draw. Forty years later, he informed me he nonetheless believes it. “In case you can write your title, you possibly can draw,” he says.

However how would he attain that objective? In any case, he says, he was only a broke child with a dream.

At some point he was in an artwork retailer and observed a rack of VHS tapes with titles like “Tips on how to Paint” and “Tips on how to Sculpt.” He did not see one which mentioned “Tips on how to Draw.” He went to his native public tv station to see in the event that they’d give him a shot at internet hosting such a program. No means, they mentioned.

He did not hand over. In New York, he met with PBS producers, who additionally mentioned no. They needed a present about portray for youths, to journey the coattails of Bob Ross. Kistler pushed again on that concept, mentioning that paint was not as accessible to children as a pencil and paper. Ultimately, they let him check out his thought.

Kistler’s exhibits and subsequent how-to books, like You Can Attract 30 Days, train drawing fundamentals utilizing a step-by-step method primarily based on copying and tracing. It differs from extra conventional artwork lessons that train drawing from remark, or “life like” artwork, however these strategies are primarily based on rules of drawing developed by the Renaissance masters.

In his method, children study composition, shading, foreshortening and different strategies in a enjoyable setting that emphasizes observe over perfection.

All of that is completed with a beneficiant dose of showmanship and classes about angle.

Actually, watching Mark Kistler is sort of like listening to a self-improvement audiobook: “You are able to do this!” He believes drawing is the best way to visualise and obtain your life targets.

In case you’re a fan of the Memphis Group design motion, this TV set will make you giddy.


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Kistler’s model is actually enjoyable and inspiring, however is it only a gimmick or does it actually train children how to attract? Is drawing actually a ability, not a expertise, like Commander Mark espoused?

I requested Seymour Simmons, a retired professor of artwork and artwork training at Winthrop College in South Carolina, who wrote a textbook in regards to the historical past of drawing.

Simmons says drawing is an intuitive course of that captures momentary mind processes and data them. He, too, believes it’s a ability, not a expertise, that people have used to speak for hundreds of years, since they started making marks on cave partitions lengthy earlier than formal written language.

And if it’s a ability, he believes it’s one thing that must be taught. However there are various methods to show drawing:

“Drawing is remark, drawing is invention, drawing is self-expression, drawing is problem-solving,” he explains. “Drawing is a visible language.”

Simmons says Mark Kistler has an awesome method to drawing as ideation and invention. As Simmons places it, “It is a self-discipline, however it must be enjoyable.”

For his half, Kistler believes that it helps to have a optimistic angle when studying a brand new ability. Or as Commander Mark would put it: “Wave bye-bye to the stress bus.”

That is the explanation he created his character, and the cosmic world round him, so a few years in the past. He needed to create a secure place for youths to attempt one thing new, mess up and never be afraid to attempt once more. All so they might put to paper what was of their minds.

And because of that younger 18-year-old who needed to show the world to attract, many kids throughout the globe — children like me — received his message and fell in love with drawing, too. We adopted together with Commander Mark at residence, drawing goofy toucans, birthday cakes and castles.

His hope from the beginning was that his classes may lay the groundwork for future engineers or scientists to design options to one thing massive.

The entire level of training, Kistler believes, is to show college students to develop into problem-solvers. And he is nervous that arts training is usually forgotten, particularly in instances of price range cuts. “Science, expertise, engineering and math are all very noble pursuits,” he says, “however you have to have that creativity.”

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