PBS's Guru Of Extreme Skateboarding Twinkies & Ants Wearing Pants

Categories: Whatever
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Lois Bernstein
Skateboarding Twinkies, ninja squirrels and space hamsters are making their way to Houston, with Commander Mark leading the way. Things might get a little weird.

Mark Kistler, the self-styled Bob Ross of children's art, will be holding drawing camps in the area over the next two weeks. Kistler got his start teaching after-school drawing classes, and in 1985 he left college to start his own public television show.

"I'm a little more hyper than Bob," Kistler, who has dropped the Star Trek-inspired "Commander" from his title, says. "I scream and throw stuffed ducks and screaming monkeys."

Kistler, who lives in Tomball, has produced about 300 shows (some of which will be running on KUHT this fall) and several books on children's drawing. He says he was inspired by Ross's ability to "invite the world into his imagination."

For a peak into Kistler's mind, the Press asked him to explain some of the themes
used in his drawing classes.

Extreme Skateboarding Twinkies:
"Twinkies have always cracked the kids up. It's a mushy little treat, and all of a sudden he's a super hero, or the mayor of a city. Or instead of King Kong, King Twinkie Kong. The kids are into sports now."

Bunnies and Ninja Squirrels:
"I mean come on, that just cracks me up. I want to draw more fluffy creatures. I love the idea of bringing Kung-Fu to a squirrel."

Ants Wearing Pants:
"It rhymes."

Pyramids and Penguins of Ancient Egypt:
"I bought a projector, and I was testing it out at home. My kids were watching March of the Penguins on the living-room wall. I took the projector and aimed it at my neighbor's window, and there were 30-foot penguins marching through the neighbor's house. The next day in class we were doing pyramids ... If I make myself laugh, I know I can make third-graders laugh."

The camps run from August 10-14 in Kingwood and 17-21 in Conroe, and there are still a number of partial and full scholarships available. Anyone interested can contact Kistler through his Web site, www.draw3D.com.
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