‘Half Hour of Pencil Power’

Award-winning art teacher releases new book

Malaki Lingg, Assistant Web Editor

Mark Kistler is an Emmy award-winning TV personality, teacher and artist. Kistler began teaching children how to draw during his teenage years, quickly gaining a passion for art education. Over the years, Kistler has been a part of TV programs such as PBS’s “The Secret City.” In the show, he portrayed the character “Commander Mark,” a spaceman eager to teach children how to draw. Over the years, Kistler has participated in various other shows and programs, has written multiple books and even started a YouTube channel to teach children the art of drawing in 3D. 

In Kistler’s youth, he pledged to teach one million students, and his TV shows quickly allowed him to surpass that goal. Many of his students, whether that be in-person or digital, have gone on to be successful professional artists. 

“Over the past four decades, I have been so delighted to have a lot of my past viewers and students [go] on to animate movies like ‘Big Hero 6’ [and] went on to work on ‘Star Wars’ characters,” Kistler said. “Now I love the minions; they are some of my favorite characters. I actually taught the folks who created the minions, the ladies and gents who went on to create ‘Despicable Me.’ I’ve had some of my students go to work on ‘Frozen’ and ‘Kung Fu Panda.’ It makes my heart happy to see a lot of my students have worked on these movies.” 

While Kistler aims to teach students how to draw, it is not as simple as that. His priority is to teach the fundamental steps of how to draw in 3D. 

“Everybody can draw me a house,” Kistler said. “Now, you can tell it’s a house, right? It’s a flat house, it’s two-dimensional, but you’re conveying the information with visual drawing. One of the [main] purposes [of art] is to visually communicate. Well, I want to give folks the choice to be able to draw in 3D, see flat to 3D. That’s my goal.” 

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kistler had to stop doing in-person lessons. Because of these circumstances, Kistler and his son started to record videos online to teach art distanced and digitally, as well as writing multiple educational art books. The most recent is “Half Hour of Pencil Power,” an art book based on the video lessons he started recording during the pandemic. 

“My son and I created this book when the pandemic hit,” Kistler said. “The schools shut down here in Houston. I had to go pick up my son from school mid-day, and he didn’t understand why he wouldn’t be able to graduate with his class. Over the weekend, we talked about what was happening. It was very scary. So we started doing what we call the ‘Hour of Pencil Power’ lessons [online], and this book was built on that too.”

For lessons from Mark Kistler, refer to www.Draw3D.com, his personal website or his YouTube channel @MarkKistlerOfficial

Mark Kistler will attend the National Art Education Association Conference in San Antonio, Texas, from April 13 through April 15. For information on attending, refer to https://www.arteducators.org/news/articles/882-2023-naea-national-convention-call-for-presentations.