Perfecting the art of spooky

Suzie Harrison

The fourth- and fifth-graders filed into their after school art

class and upon noticing the subjects they each made a beeline toward

the table of skulls asking all sorts of questions, wondering if the


skulls were real or if they could touch them.

Equipped with a large piece of drawing paper and different hues of

charcoal, the Top of the World Elementary students diligently watched

their instructor, that is after they made the big decision choosing


which Halloween subject to draw. The choices ranged from a ram’s

skull with twisted, long horns, a mountain goat’s skull with short

pointed devil-like horns, a plastic human skull or a ceramic owl.

“We’re drawing these because it’s always a spooky sort of thing,”

Paige Watroba, 9, said. “Halloween is a spooky sort of holiday and it

makes things sort of come alive, it makes things seem real.”

The art program is offered by Laguna Outreach Community Arts -- a

community outreach program of the arts where professional artists


teach children various mediums over an eight-week period.

On this day Joan Corman-Block is the instructor. She specializes

in drawing and pastels.

“I’m drawing the owl because it’s nicer than the skull,” Katie

Nemsik, 9, said.

A couple of the kids enthusiastically crawled under the table to

get closer to the skulls, but the teacher made sure they didn’t get

too close so all the students could equally observe.


“I picked the ram when I came in,” Nick Brown, 10, said. “I really

thought the skull was neat and stood out.”

“When doing the skull notice the ram’s head is very elongated,”

Corman-Block said. “If you’re doing the mountain goat’s skull it’s a

little smaller. This is to get the basic shape we want to do.”

She instructed the kids to fill the whole paper with their picture

and illustrated the steps of drawing the owl from the basic oval

shape to determining where the eyes might go by segmenting the owl in

thirds noting that they should be a third of the way down.

As the young artists were transforming their blank piece of paper

into an illustration, step by step they also learned the importance

of color use, the colors to use for shading, shadows and different


“The light is hitting the right hand side, so we should shade on

the left,” Corman-Block said.

Adding black to accent the dark areas of their piece and to

brighten certain places, the kids seemed mesmerized staring at their


The final touches included adding a signature, a background and

any other finishing touches to make their drawing complete.

“Mine is a picture of an owl on a tree sitting in the bushes,”

Masha Goncharova, 10, said. “Adding the details was the most fun


Paige drew a night scene with dark clouds and sky.

“I wanted it to be a little owl lost and spooky on the night of

Halloween,” Paige said. “I added some clouds so it looks like normal

Halloween pictures.”

Some added moons, stars or darkness and gray, seeming to create in

their mind’s eye their idea of Halloween.

* SUZIE HARRISON is a reporter for the Laguna Beach Coastline

Pilot. She may be reached at 494-4321 or