Memory Lane: Jon Gnagy

Fast, Fun & Effective Ways, To Paint & Draw! - Art-NY Gallery

Throughout the 1950s and 60s, Jon Gnagy’s Learn to Draw was among the most popular educational TV shows. I watched it regularly, and sent away for one of his instructional kits. And you know what? It really helped me learn to draw!

His lessons usually started by showing you the basic geometric shapes–cones, cubes, spheres, etc.–underlying the objects that you wished to draw; and then he’d show you how to build on those. For instance, you’d start with a cone and build it, step by step, into a sheaf of wheat, a teepee, or a church steeple. The kit had a variety of pencils, charcoal sticks, and this really cool “kneaded eraser” that was like a ball of Silly Putty. And it had a book of scenes that you could learn to draw–again, step by step.

Over the years, I got rather good at drawing all kinds of things. It was fun! We still have Patty’s Learn to Draw kit stowed upstairs. Still lifes, landscapes, people and animals–it’s all in there.

8 comments on “Memory Lane: Jon Gnagy

  1. Nice! I used to like to draw, and a little painting too. My fingers are too clumsy now to do much of that. My older son was a real artist when he was young and still at it, now three of his four kids (now adults) are great artists. Art is a great favorite of mine.

  2. I had one of those kits, too! But somehow my pictures never turned out like his. I did find out later that I had a slight knack for cartoon drawing, but only after I’d slaved away at learning anatomical proportions. Alas, drawing seems to be another of those skill sets that I’ve lost over the years. But I do remember John Gnagy. I even remember how to pronounce his name. 🙂

    1. My favorite lesson in his kit was on how to draw facial expressions. He used these simple little cartoons for that–and I’m still drawing them today.

  3. Love to see some of your cartoon drawings. My son was obsessed at drawing cars and did well. My grandson’s great at drawing cartoons – and cars. I studied for 4 weeks with the son of Nicholas Frudakis, a noted sculptor, drawing naked people. I did really well on the hands and face, but my proportions were out of whack. Of course, some of the bodies were too – lol.

    1. I felt embarrassed, drawing from live nude models in college.
      I wonder if there’s a way to post some of my cartoons here.

    2. I wish knew how too. It took me a few years to figure out how to post an emoji. I think someone here may know how post your cartoons? They know so many things as it is.

  4. I remember watching the artist on tv and I tried to mimic him. I never had one of his kits but I certainly would have enjoyed working with all the art supplies. I did quite a bit of drawing as I grew up and, to be honest, high school art class in my senior year is what kept me going throughout that last year of my educational adventure. Most of my friends had dropped out, gotten their working papers, and were making money and apparently enjoying themselves. The art class taught by Saul Goldstein, a most wonderful teacher, who saw my talent and was so encouraging. I just wish I would have done more after high school but…. well, I’m happy with my life choices.

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