Students at St Paul’s Camden have enjoyed valuable opportunities to sharpen their artistic skills from those who have come before them, engaging in experiences with talented local artists – including a former student!
The school’s Year 4 students are currently studying the Japanese artist, Hokusai, and his creation of the ‘manga art’ movement. They were excited to have former St Paul’s student and gifted artist, Peter Cornett, visit the school to facilitate an art workshop with them.
With an avid audience eager to learn, Cornett shared his story and love of art and creativity, reflecting on his own interest in manga and other Japanese art at the students’ own age. He also demonstrated useful manga art techniques and tips with the group and to the children’s delight, brought some of his own wonderful manga pieces and other recent artworks to show.
The Year 12 Magdalene Catholic College, Narellan student has had a passion for art since his days at the Camden Catholic primary school, and has continued to practice and improve a variety of methods and artistry to become the skilled creator he is today.
“Star Wars, Japanese animation and video games were a very big influence since about Year 3, and made me want to start recreating the things I enjoyed on paper. Over time, my interest has deepened and expanded beyond cartooning and into the broader art world. I love sculpture and medieval draftsmen work and I’m inspired by heavy metal album covers and tattooing, so that’s become a big part of how I now create too,” he said.
Cornett said his artistic practices are constantly evolving to incorporate new and interesting techniques. He primarily does fine-line illustrations with ink, but has recently also expanded into areas such as laser cut sculpture and pyrography (hand-made wood etchings made by burning the design with a pen-like tool).
“I’ve been very fortunate to have supportive teachers, friends and family, who have encouraged me to improve myself over the years. I never received formal art training outside of school, so it's been a lot of research, and trial and error. It’s a long process, but it’s so rewarding” — Peter Cornett, artist and former St Paul’s Camden student
“Magdalene has been a great avenue to develop my art too. The school projects have really helped add to and adapt my art knowledge, allowing me to get better at art while still having fun doing it.
"Magdalene has been especially helpful in my final year this year, allowing me to invest more time in my major work so I can get more done. Their resources have also allowed me to expand my practice into areas like the laser cut sculpturing. I don't think I would be at the point I am now if I didn't have the support of my school.”
“Art is pretty much all I want to do for a living now – I couldn't see myself doing anything else! I'm very excited to see what I will end up doing in the future. My core goal is to live off making art that is enjoyable for others and myself.”
Teacher, Mrs Deb Huxley, said the Year 4 children were completely engaged throughout Cornett’s presentation to the class. “The students were in awe of the intricate and detailed artworks Peter had created and mesmerised as Peter sketched using only a lead pencil to add shape, shade, texture and line to create a manga-inspired self-portrait.”
“Peter so eloquently inspired the children, encouraging them to do what they love, dream big and follow their passions; to never give up, always have a go, encourage others and always believe in themselves” — Deb Huxley, teacher, St Paul’s Camden
What the students said...
“We could see how Peter went from simple sketches to something really detailed! His art is so neat and the techniques based on manga were amazing. I get Peter’s art and he inspires me to continue to do my art” — Peter, 4H
“Peter said to take your time, practice and make sure you have fun creating your art” — Hannah, 4F
“When Peter did his artwork, he showed us how to use fineline pens and build up. I learned that you can teach yourself art skills using YouTube and lots of practice!” — Ashley, 4T
For Cornett, the opportunity was equally enjoyable. “It was a lovely experience seeing some of my old teachers again, especially Mrs Huxley who was one of my own teachers too! The school looks quite different from the time I left, but it felt familiar enough to be comfortable. I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity.”
“The St Paul’s kids were amazing to work with! They were really attentive and their questions were well thought out. Some came up to me to show me artworks they’d been completing at home and it was beautiful seeing how much they enjoyed what they were doing” — Peter Cornett, artist and former St Paul’s Camden student
“I told them anyone can develop their skills in art – I'm still learning new things every day! As long as you have the determination and patience, you can get better at anything; and when we mess something up, we can learn from it. That applies to everything, not just art; and if we really stop stigmatising failure, we can achieve so much more,” he said.
Mrs Huxley said Cornett’s visit is having a lasting, positive effect on the children’s interest in art and their sense of empowerment in continuing to develop their manga art skills themselves.
“Since Peter's visit I've had so many students excitedly bringing in from home their manga practice sketches and show me their new manga skills,” she said.
“We thank Peter for taking the time to come into St Paul’s. We have all become passionate followers of his creative journey and can’t wait to see where it takes him. We hope that some of our present Year 4 students come back in the future and share their passions and amazing gifts, too.”
MEANWHILE in Year 2…
Year 2 students at St Paul's Camden have also been busy with their own special art guest and experience. With their teacher, Ms Deb Clancy, they’ve been exploring the methods that Camden artist, Roger Percy, uses to create his beautiful watercolour paintings.
They were very excited to have Mr Percy himself lead their recent tour of Camden’s Alan Baker Art Gallery to learn all about perspective drawings! Mr Percy even led the children through a guided sketch of the historical building of Macaria House, using the perspective techniques they’d just learned about.
With that kind of inspiration and guidance, it's no wonder Year 2's sketches were so impressive!