One of television's first instructional shows, "You Are an Artist", hosted by Jon Gnagy, was a series of brief (fifteen-minute) filmed drawing lessons, syndicated nationally for over ten years. I first saw the program in the 1950s, and it was influential in my decision to make Art my life's work.
Gnagy (rhymes with 'leggy') was nearly a caricature of what an 'beatnik' artist was 'supposed' to look like (stocky, with short black hair and a goatee, wearing plaid short-sleeved shirt, and occasionally, a beret), but his technique in drawing was excellent, and he had a relaxed, no-nonsense approach to teaching.
While he wasn't 'above' promoting his commercial drawing kits (containing manila paper, pens, pencils, kneaded erasers, charcoal, and a sheet of acetate you could lay over your television screen to trace his work), the bulk of the fifteen minutes was spent creating a drawing in a step-by-step manner, with the closing credits displayed over his finished drawing.
My favorite lesson involved his drawing a cocker spaniel, beginning with ovals and triangles, and ending with a lovely, shaded rendering.
Occasionally, he'd devote a program to a 'classic' work of art, which he'd analyze, showing the importance of composition, light and shadow, and the media used.
While "You Are an Artist" was certainly no threat to the many PBS 'how-to' shows of today, Gnagy filled the void quite well in his time, and had a generation of kids and adults building self confidence in their drawing skills...
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