Co-Curricular Activities Expand Students' Creative Outlets

Middle School art teacher Katherine Nicholson recruited cartoonist Rick Stromoski, the illustrator of Soup to Nutz, to work with KO students in an hour cartooning workshop as a co-curricular activity. Armed with several sheets of white paper and a thin-tipped black marker, the students followed the directives of the illustrator in a Zoom room. Stromoski shared his screen - a virtual whiteboard - and the students saw his speedy notations, as he transformed emotions with a mere flick of his pen.

“Cartooning is about exaggeration. You can create things that don’t happen in real life like the sharp teeth of a vampire. It’s really about simple lines and knowing where to place them,” Stromoski shared.

Stromoski drew four circles on his screen and proceeded to show how the mouth in different forms can create different expressions from nauseousness, to surprise, or fright. He starts with basic elements -- eye or a mouth -- and then adds to it to create an emotion. For instance, he drew a big smile but then added a giant tooth to “drop the character’s IQ a bit.”  By playing with eye shapes, Stromoski was able to vary his litany of characters.

“Experiment. Mix things up. Play around,” Stromoski directed the budding cartoonists.

He said that cartooning is a suggestion that requires a minimal amount of details or gestures. For a male character, he doesn’t draw lips or eyelashes, but for a female character, he does. He aged his characters by giving them an illusion of gray hair with a slight outline of the hair, drew on a pair of spectacles on the tip of the nose, and added two curved lines around the mouth to represent jowls.

“The fewer lines you use is the best cartooning,” he noted.
Learn more about Stromoski's work by clicking on this link.
Located in West Hartford, CT just steps from Blue Back Square, Kingswood Oxford is a private school inspiring co-ed day students in grades 6-12 with a college preparatory curriculum. Empowered students become clear confident communicators, resourceful problem-solvers, and ethical leaders. KO: where unlimited potential meets endless opportunities.
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