Creative Comics

Dallas students had a great time learning about comics on Sunday, March 10, at the DMA’s Urban Armor workshop. Urban Armor is a program that allows teens and tweens to take a closer look at the Museum’s collection and create unique art in the DMA’s computer-equipped Tech Lab.

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Workshops are generally scheduled twice a month for two hours and are free; for more information, and to register, visit the DMA’s Urban Armor page.

Local comic book artist and illustrator Kristian Donaldson led our recent workshop, which covered the basics of drawing comics and their history and progression. Donaldson completed his training at the Savannah College of Art and Design and has worked for Marvel, DC, Dark Horse Comics, and Dallas Observer/Village Voice Media. He has also taught several classes for young adults and college-age students across the U.S.

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The workshop was inspired by the recent Arts & Letters Live program featuring Art Spiegelman on February 27. One of the perks of being the McDermott Intern for Adult Programming and Arts & Letters Live is getting the chance to create a program based on my passions and interests. I grew up in small-town Texas, far from any art institutions, so as a relatively new museum-goer I have become keenly aware of a certain gap in museum activities. While programs for children, families, and adults abound, similar activities for teens and young adults often do not. One of the things I love about the DMA is that we do have programs like Urban Armor, teen-friendly author events, and student discounts. When I saw that Spiegelman was coming to Dallas, I thought that the formula of comics + teens + local art programs at schools like Booker T. Washington + Urban Armor at the DMA + FREE = awesome.

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And so it began. Students age 14-17 gathered in the Center for Creative Connections to be schooled in the awesomeness that is comic book art. Kristian was very open-minded and supportive in his approach, encouraging the students to run with whatever style comes naturally, because there is no “right” or “wrong” way to draw a comic. While working with his self-professed current obsession with outer space, Kristian showed us step-by-step how to divide a basic template into three parts, set the scene with a general landscape, bring in human anatomy and emotion using shapes and positive and negative space, and lead into a story that is completely up to the artist. WOW. It was mesmerizing to watch the students create their own unique interpretations of what a comic should be. One student focused on what can only be described as a well-drawn noodle monster. I was amazed at the skill level and creativity flowing in the room.

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After the workshop was over, Kristian kindly signed some of his work for the students as they begged for another program with him later in the season. Comics: Part II, anyone?

Emily Brown is the McDermott Intern for Adult Programming and Arts & Letters Live at the DMA.


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