Third Friday’s ‘Art That Moves’ showcases scribbler’s unorthodox philosophy
Drawing rewires your brain,” Rob Court says. The owner of Scribbles Institute in Santa Cruz, Court has a lot to say about creating art. He coaches several students a week—adults, teenagers and children, all with their own reason to improve their drawing skills. Some just want to become better artists, others are looking for a new hobby, and some are even looking to expand their brain’s creative capacity to help them in their day jobs—mostly people in the tech industry, Court says.
But you don’t need to sign up for one of Court’s classes to get a taste of what he does. He will be participating at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History’s Third Friday this month, with the theme “Art That Moves.” Court will have a table set up to teach passersby how to draw people in motion—particularly athletes such as surfers, skateboarders, snowboarders, and cyclists.
As people drift in, Court plans to work with each of them individually, at their level; whether they’ve never drawn before, or have been doing it for 20 years. Aside from the specific focus on movement, this is precisely what Court does in his weekly classes at Santa Cruz’s Scribbles Institute. There are no lectures and no textbooks. It’s a unique teaching environment.
“I immediately read what level each individual is at, and I work with each individual,” Court says. “If they’re someone that’s been in art in the past, and they want to get back into drawing, I just pick up at that level.”
Court keeps his classes small, usually between four and eight people. Court has a curriculum, but it’s designed for each specific student. During their weekly two-hour class, Court walks around to each person and coaches them, but tries to steer away from the typical, rigid class structure.
“It’s a very different setting than a classroom,” Court says. “We have nice music going. We chat for a while. It’s a social evening. People come here after work. They are stressed out. They like it. It’s something we all look forward to and form friendships out of.”
People can pay for several classes at once, but they’re not required to attend those classes in consecutive weeks. He sends out a weekly email to his students, and they simply reply “yes” or “no” to whether they’ll be attending class that week. If they says “yes” he’ll prepare that person’s lesson.
“It’s really flexible. If they can’t make it that week, it’s cool. It’s no problem,” Court says.
It’s only been about seven years that Court has officially been teaching, but he’s been a professional commercial artist for more than 35 years, including graphic design and illustration work. One of those clients was Disney.
Court’s first foray into teaching seven years ago was as a guest lecturer, conducting weekly art classes at different schools. Initially, he attempted to do a uniform art lecture.
“I could just see that I was losing them in the first five minutes, so I just started drawing with each kid,” says Court. “I built my program specifically from that, so I could be with each person. I learned from it and they learned from it, so it’s really sharing the experience. There’s a lot of struggle and frustration in drawing, but it’s very relaxing and rewarding.”
He still works with schools, but now offers private lessons at his studio for people of all ages. Though Court may be late to the teaching game, he feels like it’s something he’s a natural fit for.
“It’s more coaching than teaching,” says Court. “It’s just something I naturally do. If I have some experience and knowledge, it’s just sharing the knowledge as a coach. I’ve always done it as a kid. I organized kids in the neighborhood and helped them do stuff. It’s just a natural thing.”
INFO: Third Friday: Art That Moves, Fri, June 20, Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History. 5-8 p.m., $5 general, $3 students, seniors and kids.