For students in the Johnson County Parks and Recreation Department afterschool care class at Gardner Elementary, Thursdays mean it’s time to draw.
Mark Hinojosa, a former afterschool teacher, comes in Thursday afternoons to lead students through a drawing lesson.
“I use the whiteboard, and the students draw along with me at their tables,” Hinojosa said. “I normally teach them to start with a circle. I always ask them, ‘now what does my Dad say?’ One or more of them will say to start with the eyes. If you start with the eyes, everything else just falls into place.”
He says he always teaches them to never give up. They may not like some things about their drawings, but he encourages them to keep going. The class recently finished their Fall Art Contest. Hinojosa’s father, Mike, is a professional artist living in Independence, Missouri, in an eclectic area known as the Englewood Arts District. He donated a print of his Alaskan Brown Bear for the contest.
Students had two weeks to draw what they saw in the print. There were five entries. An artist friend of Mark’s, Natasha Beroska, who owns the Blue Mango Art Studio in Overland Park, then judged the pieces. Prizes were awarded for first, second, and third place. This time there was a new award handed out for honorable mention.
Coming in at First Place was Addison Winters. Addison received a fifty-dollar gift card to Groundhouse Coffee in Gardner. She also got to take home the donated print.
In second, was Fredrick P. For his efforts, Fredrick received a ten-dollar gift card to Quik Trip. There was a tie for third place. Claire McKelvey received a five-dollar gift card to Subway for her submission, and Ariana Madrid received a five-dollar McDonald’s gift card, for her artwork. The Honorable Mention award went to Kinsley Kobler. She received a gift card to Dairy Queen. When Kinsley got her card she shouted, “I love Dairy Queen!”
Hinojosa said he would like to express his heartfelt thanks to Groundhouse Coffee owner Steve Hines, Summer at the Gardner McDonalds, and Dairy Queen for their donations.
Hinojosa recently sat down with his Dad at a McDonald’s in Independence to celebrate his turning eighty-nine. His Dad’s favorite sandwich is the Big Mac. At some point the conversation turned to the topic of art, and the questions and answers that follow come from their conversation.
Have you always loved art?
“I have always loved to draw.” Mike Hinojosa said. “When I was ten or eleven, I would go down to the American Royal building, and just draw the animals. Today, the bulk of my artwork is animals, everything from eagles, to elephants. When I begin drawing an animal, I like to ask myself what the animal is thinking. I also do landscapes. I did a mural in your Mom’s Pottery Arts shop in the arts district. In the mural I painted a lake. Somebody once just stood there staring at it and said, “I wish I could go down to it.” To me, art should be seen and enjoyed. It should captivate, invite, and make people smile. It should transport the person looking at it to a different place.”
So, your work is predominately wildlife and landscapes?
“Yes, I have started drawing people like Johnny Cash, John Wayne and Ronald Reagan.”
What mediums do you work in?
“I mostly do scratchboard and pen and ink.”
Any advice to offer?
“Keep doing what you love. Practice makes perfect.”
What are your goals for the future?
“I plan to keep on doing my art. I want to honor God in some way with my work. Before I start a piece, I always ask St. Michael to guide my hand.”
Do you agree that the Earth without art is Eh?
“I do. I believe a society without a strong emphasis on the arts has little or nothing to offer. It lacks substance. I hope schools continue to offer art programs.”
For Mark Hinojosa, Thursdays will always be a time to draw and an opportunity to inspire future artists.