PORT RICHEY — “Structure,” that’s what kids need most, as many teachers believe.
That goes for learning to draw, believes “Bert” Swartz, a designer and screen-print artist. She teaches an art class for young children at the Regency Park Branch Library on Thursdays called Flip Flop Art.
The idea is to give kids a concentric structure on which to focus by providing a subject to draw which is symmetrical. That way they are able to think of the drawing as two halves rather than a whole, which for children might be overwhelming.
“Once they have something they can repeat—something concentric—it gives them a focus and they don’t get lost,” said Swartz. “They basically have a line down the middle and they can finish the drawing in two halves.”
In her most recent class, Swartz deviated from her usual method to accommodate a special request associated with the library’s summer reading program. She led the class of youngsters by drawing cartoon super heroes Dogman and Cat Kid. Concentrating on simple circles and erasing portions where lines overlapped, she led them to a coloring page featuring the two popular children’s characters, which they then colored with markers.
When kids try to free-hand from scratch they can easily get frustrated or lost along the way, said Swartz. But by breaking the drawing down into manageable shapes and parts, they can build a completed work.
“Oh yes,” Swartz said when asked if most kids are more capable artists than they or others might suspect. “They just need to understand the method.”
Swartz is teaching the Flip Flop class at the branch at 2 p.m. every Thursday through the summer. Classes are free and materials are supplied. Following the summer classes, Swartz will begin an adult painting class at the branch. Look for the branch calendar on the Pasco County Library System website at
Christopher Gilchrist, 9, said the drawing class was “a lot of fun.” He knows Dogman and his faithful sidekick well and was the class member who pointed out Cat Kid was missing his cape in her whiteboard example. Another student in the class reminded Swartz she forgot to draw a bone symbol on Dogman’s chest.
“We’re all experts on Dogman,” Gilchrist said.