A Day of Stellar Art at the Richland Schools

In February 2020, CANA’s Lead Graphic Artist, Koa Beam, teamed up with CANA Foundation to lead a wonderful day of art and drawing at the Richland School District’s high school and elementary schools in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

In February 2020, CANA’s Lead Graphic Artist, Koa Beam, teamed up with CANA Foundation to lead a wonderful day of art and drawing at the Richland School District’s high school and elementary schools in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Koa loves to share his passion for comic art as well as encourage the next generation to draw, doodle, and discover their creative side. The Richland High School (RHS) Art Club teacher, Mrs. Marth Ringler, had participated in one of Koa’s Community Art Center (of Cambria County) drawing classes that he teaches on occasion and reached out to him.  She thought that a comic book style drawing workshop would be great for inspiring the students in the art club. Koa agreed and the workshop was put into motion!  Word quickly caught on that Koa was doing the comic book style art day at high school and not wanting to be left out, the Richland Elementary School art teacher, Mrs. Krista Hershberger, reached out to see if Koa would be able to do a similar workshop for younger students.  Koa quickly jumped at the opportunity to also work with the elementary students and the comic book art day was scheduled at both schools.


Koa structured the RHS workshop so that the Art Club students would choose and then draw a comic book character along with Koa during the allotted time. Surprisingly, they did not pick one of the more popular choices Koa thought they might select, like Spider-Man, Batman, Deadpool, or Supergirl. Instead went with one of the more off the wall characters from Guardians of the Galaxy – Groot.  With character decided, Koa led the students through how a comic book cover or “splash page” is created.


“I wanted them to have fun but also see all the process and understand the way a typical comic page is drawn and all the creative parts that go into it, from doing thumbnail layouts and choose the best, most dynamic character placement, to drafting the rough pencil art, to the finished pencils, on to inking and finally a demo on digital colors. It was a lofty goal for the day, and I think everyone had a good time making some art and learning how you get there from start to finish.” – Koa Beam


After he was done with the high school kids, it was off to the Richland Elementary School for part two of the day with the younger kids. Mrs. Hershberger and her kids welcomed Koa enthusiastically and were extremely excited to get to draw some fun character along with him. The students were asked to choose a character (from a short list) who they would like to draw. Unable to decide and after a short debate and with crayons and scented markers at the ready, they chose Baby Yoda. With the decision made, it had shaped up to be a fantastic cosmic space character-themed day and Koa spent the next hour drawing along with the kids.


“I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to do the class with the younger kids since it was much shorter and I knew the attention spans would be a little different than the workshop with the high school kids, so I decided to go old school and I just posted a big piece of paper on the chalk board and had them follow along…kind of like the draw-alongs I used to watch on TV as a kid.” – Koa Beam


All-in-all, the day was a great success and Koa looks forward to doing other events like this in his area to help support the arts and encourage creativity in the next generation. In the words of the late great Stan Lee – “Excelsior!”


CANA Foundation has been proud to come alongside Koa and support his passion for teaching and inspiring others through art. If you are located in the Western PA Region and would like Mr. Beam to visit your school for a fun filled day of drawing and learning you can send him an email at kbeam@canallc.com and maybe he and the CANA Foundation can spark your students imagination.

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