Monday, April 4, 2011

Another Early Childhood Art Hero - Jon Gnagy

By John Jude Palencar A couple of weeks ago Dan Dos Santos posted an entry about his early childhood art hero, “Captain Bob”. There were also other early Saturday morning art instructors. The guy that started me on my way was Jon Gnagy. My Grandmother purchased the deluxe art set for me when I was around six years old ... I think it is now called the “Gnagy Master Art Set”. Mr. Gnagy’s art program and art kits became a fixture in our home and were used until I was 11 years old. Further study was done through yet another art instruction program on PBS with a Japanese Sumi Brush Master. I had my first one person exhibit of Sumi watercolors on the bulletin board in my fourth grade class. The following year my work was chosen for the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s (Newspaper) student art exhibit. Seventeen years after that I was illustrating the covers for the Plain Dealer's Sunday Magazine. While simple in their presentation, Mr. Gnagy’s demonstrations were pivotal in letting me see the world through an artist’s eye. I still have his instructional art books in my collection. Just like the late night horror movie hosts, I will always have fond memories Mr. Gnagy’s “Learn to Draw” television program. His daughter, Polly Nagy Seymor maintains a web site dedicated to her father. And... "yes" his art kits are still available! Thank you again Mr. Gnagy. Here are a few links: Wiki link: Here Jon Gnagy page: Here (Includes a number of You Tube vids) Jon Gnagy Bio: Here Jon Gnagy Art Kits: Here


  1. Wow to remember this you must really be seasoned. I had a couple of his books as a kid but I'm not sure it was broadcast in CA. I would have remembered. Maybe I was just too busy watching Captain Kangaroo and Might Mouse.

  2. This is great! My Father-in-Law Loved this program. His parents still have the art set from the sixties as well as some of the drawings he did as a child from the set. what a great step back into history. Cheers John!

  3. That's so cool, John! My family had his art set, too. I remember learning what a kneaded eraser was, but couldn't figure out how to use it.

    I remember the book included was how to draw a puppy dog's head. I know that this one method had fed my drawing skills for decades. His squared and sculpted forms taught me how to see. (It also fed my love of flip books, because it was a step by step booklet that you could flip.)

    I still have an unused Jon Gnagy pencil from the set!

    Thanks, JJ!