Cranbrook students had an opportunity to get to know their artistic side for the past two weeks.
Cartoonist Julian Lawrence has been an artist in residence for the past two weeks in School District 5 schools. The residence was organized by the Canadian Parents for French. Lawrence also works for the non-profit organization Art Starts.
“The mandate with Art Starts is to send artists into schools in British Columbia to teach students the skills that each artist has,” Lawrence explained. “There are over 100 different artists on the roster, ranging from musicians to actors to visual artists.”
Lawrence had been in the schools for two weeks and was headed back on Saturday, Feb. 21.
Lawrence was in T.M. Roberts on Friday. He also visited Mount Baker Secondary School where he did three art sessions for the 10, 11 and 12 grades. He also spent a day in Fernie teaching his art at the Elementary School and High School.
Lawrence said the he’s enjoyed the experience.
“It’s been amazing,” he said. “The community is super friendly. The schools have been super supportive and I think in some respects even a little surprised by the output ad some of these products that these students have created. I think some people might think of cartooning as a novelty but I see it as a very powerful education tool that can be used across the curriculum.”
Lawrence is working on his masters at UBC in comic books in the classroom.
“It’s very important to teach visual literacy, especially in the 21st century with computers, where everything is very much image based and it’s really important for students to develop visual literacy.”
He said the time as an artist in residence has helped him to learn to think on his feet.
“Generally when I’m sitting in the studio by myself I’m alone with my own thoughts, then when I’m working in the classroom I’m challenged by the students. They’ll ask me how do I draw a bike? How do I draw someone sitting at a picnic table? This is getting me to think of things I wouldn’t think of on my own. It’s also improving my drawing skills as I’m demonstrating to the students how to draw certain things in front of an audience. I do feel like it’s strengthening my drawing abilities and my speaking abilities too.”
The two weeks have been quite intensive, and he’s been doing between five and six classes a day. He drew a cartoon that illustrated the mad dashes between classes.
Lawrence has been teaching cartooning for the past 10 years all across Canada through a few programs.