Artist teaches student to draw cartoons

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 2/11/97.

Start with a heart, circle or triangle and a cartoon character can develop into anything your imagination wants. Author/illustrator, Gary Harbo, Minneapolis, spent three days at the Paynesville Area Elementary School doing an ďartist in residence,Ē teaching students how to draw cartoon characters.
Harbo has created 10 characters over the past five years. In each new book, he tries to add a new character. All the stories center around Bart, a dragon/alligator, who is a cut-up character in need of learning a lesson.

In his classes, Harbo tells the kids to start with noses. ďFrom there you can frame any character in any direction you want,Ē he said. In one class, he told the kids they can even stick the neck out of the side of the head. It makes the character look like he is sticking his head out a window and yelling at a friend.

Harboís programs highlight how to create a story idea, how to write a story, and how to create illustrations. His presentations with the students take them from the beginnings of a cartoon sketch to the finished product, including a background of trees or lakes.

ďI love working with kids. When you get down on yourself, I see the kidís enthusiasm and itís like they recharge my battery,Ē Harbo said. ďLearning has got to be fun and easy. In art, I take the kids step by step and they find it fun to draw,Ē he added. ďIím just a big kid at heart.Ē

Harbo says it usually takes him about two years per book: one year to write the book and one year to do the art work. ďItís the art work that usually grabs a personís attention to pick up a book. The colorful book covers pull a person into a book,Ē Harbo stressed. Harbo said he visits about 60 schools per year doing artist-in-residence sessions. This was his third visit to Paynesville.

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