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Sketchy Stuff: A Resource Guide to Drawing Opportunities, Workshops, and Classes in Phoenix

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So what do you do if you wake up one day with a strange new urge to make comics? How do you learn to write and draw what legendary cartoonist Will Eisner dubbed "sequential art"?

If you're under 14, you can probably find a comics workshop at your branch library, community center, afterschool program, or summer camp. But what if you're (considerably) older than that, out of school and hoping to learn enough to make comics that aren't a total embarrassment?

That was me a few years ago, but, bright side: an utter lack of cartooning skills left me nowhere to go but up.

Without an art background, I knew I needed to develop some drawing chops. Sure, you can draw anywhere, anytime that your hands are free (see Lynda Barry on the value of doodling).

But what about a little guidance or inspiration for your drawing when you don't have the time, money, and/or courage to attend art school?

3. Museum and Public Art Programing: Phoenix Art Museum, SMoCA, and Scottsdale Public Art occasionally offer directed sketching activities at low or no cost. And even if they don't have a sketching workshop, anyone can visit a museum gallery and draw, (usually, only pencils are welcome).

2. Group Sketching

There are also free or low cost group sketch events. Some feature live drawing, which is crazy good practice, because no matter how skilled and how patient the live model, they can't stand still forever.

Panicked perfectionists (moi?) have to draw fast or risk a big blank fail when the model shifts or takes a break. On the second Tuesday of each month Anti-Art School features a live model for over-21 sketchers and painters at The Lost Leaf. Just $7 for three hours of sketching with beer and wine service if some liquid inspiration is needed.

Meetup has a few drawing groups, or a person could start their own (recently, there were 300+ people on the local list waiting for you to do so.) And Tiny Army, an informal artists' group, has sketch nights on occasion.

1. Workshops and Classes

After do-it-yourself and do-it-in-a-group come the workshops. Lower cost entries in this realm can be found at Mesa Arts Center, Phoenix Center for the Arts, Shemer Art, and Maricopa Community Colleges. Also, the Scottsdale Artists' School offers an Art for Amateurs workshop over three evenings, with the first session devoted to drawing (painting and sculpting follow). Next session begins August 13.

If, after all that drawing practice, the bug to make comics remains, there's the step up to Phoenix College's Certificate in Comic and Sequential Art. The entire program requires 37 credit hours to complete, but with studying with local, yet big-time, artists like Jon Haddock and Tony Parker, those who stick with it are sure to emerge with some big drawing guns.

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