For as long as I can remember I have always been drawing, starting from the day my pudgy hand could hold a purple Crayola marker. It was never something that I had to do, but something I could escape into. Unlike most kids, I wouldn’t just draw a static scene, like a picture of a butterfly; my drawings always came as stories. Perhaps in real life I would be sitting there in a polyester jumper, but in my world of drawing I could be anything my heart desired. Cartooning has always been a passion of mine, but until this summer, never one that I publicly shared.
In March, my mom signed me up for a class called “Comic Studio” at Cornish College of the Arts. Though she did so without my formal permission, she reassured me that I could back out at any time. In all honesty, in the fervor of the last few months of school, the class was completely pushed out of my mind. That is until my sister, Kendall, did a little research.
“Were you aware that your teacher for that art thing you’re doing did the illustrations for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian? She and Sherman Alexie won the national book award for it,” Kendall said to me as I took a bite of honey nut cheerios.
“Who?” I asked, only half listening.
“Her name is Ellen Forney, she’s teaching the class you’re taking in a week.”
The ball of half chewed cheerios fell right out of my mouth.
I had never formally shown anyone my work, let alone a nationally acclaimed artist. But it was too late to back out. Needless to say, the first day I showed up for class, I put on about thirty layers of deodorant in preparation.
The first thing we did in class was create a comic about the struggles in the life of a donut. Each member of the class came up with an idea for a comic, drew the first panel, and then passed the page to student to their right to draw the second. We kept this up until the whole comic was finished, each panel completed by a different
classmate. Ellen Forney looked through all the finished comics grinning under her spikey black hair at all the goofy stories and giving praise to all the pieces that she liked. Finally she came to the one I drew about a female donut character struggling to find clothes that fit her in a department store run by pretentious vegetables. She laughed out loud and said, “I love this one!” Like an unabashed tween in front of Justin Bieber, I stared at her in awe.
As the class continued, I found that something I had kept to myself for so long and always shrugged off as a hobby was actually a talent. It was something that people liked, that they laughed at and yelled to their friend, “Look at that one! Don’t you love that detail?” I started to have confidence in myself and my abilities. I began taking risks in the class. I found myself getting excited for our critiques; something that I previously had dreaded so much that I would hide in the back of the crowd pretending I hadn’t drawn it. The class was more than just an extraordinary learning experience; it was a cathartic moment in my life. It taught me to have confidence in my abilities and to be proud of myself. I know now that I will never stop drawing, never stop pushing myself to explore my talents and the opportunities around me. The world is an amazing place if you just put on a few extra layers of deodorant, and step outside your comfort zone.
I would highly recommend taking a class at Cornish College of the Arts. They offer courses in theater, music, dance, design, and almost any genre of art imaginable. These classes are available throughout the year, but the most intensive and frequently offered courses, like the one I took, are part of their summer program.
To find out more information on programs offered at Cornish College of the Arts visit http://www.cornish.edu/.