Artist Keith McGuire Makes Learning How to Draw Fun

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 01/16/2018 - 16:33
Artist Keith McGuire teaches How to Draw Manga at Salt Valley Arts

When first asked to teach art classes while living in Hawaii in 1985, Keith McGuire did not think it was something he’d be interested in. But he gave it a go, and something clicked.  “This is fun!” he thought, and, over thirty years later, McGuire is still at it.

Stopping in to McGuire’s The Art of Drawing Manga class on Saturday morning at Salt Valley Arts Center here in Saline, the immediate impression is that this group of young adults and their teacher are having fun.  The students come from Saline, Ann Arbor, and Manchester, and some of his students have been learning from McGuire for years.  McGuire has a relaxed teaching style that can appeal to all ages, and his teen students in particular seem to enjoy learning how to draw in such a fun and energetic environment.

McGuire began teaching in 1985 as a free service in the community where he lived in Hawaii.  Single mothers were able to drop their kids off to the art store at the mall in Kona for an hour and a half where McGuire taught the kids how to draw, and the mothers were able to get their shopping done without having little ones in tow.  Eventually the Anime/Manga craze reached the US, and McGuire took to teaching this Japanese style of drawing.  It took off, and when he moved to Michigan, Keith brought his classes and his style with him.  

McGuire has found great success with his drawing classes in the years since he has lived here.  He started out teaching at Two Twelve Arts Center, and then moved his classes to the Clinton Arts Center.  Eventually he switched over to Community Education and Salt Valley Arts Center, and a couple of his students have followed Keith to each new location.  McGuire is rightly proud that he has had four of his students take the skills they learned in his classes and go to college on art scholarships.  
McGuire makes it easy for the students in his Manga class to learn the concepts he teaches.  He starts them out with the basics - “Always start with the shapes!” - and then guides them from there.  He surrounds his students with materials to help them become more confident in their drawing skills, and creates “How to draw” guides for a large number of animals, creatures, people, etc.  One student, who has been taking classes from McGuire for seven years, said, “He’s a good teacher, and he’s fun to be around. He knows who he’s teaching to, so he knows how to get the message across.” When asked what his favorite thing is about teaching such an energetic group of tweens and teens, McGuire laughed and said, “It keeps me glad to be old.”

McGuire doesn’t only teach manga (which is geared towards 11-16 year-olds) on Saturdays, he also teaches Basic Drawing for 6-11 year-olds, and a Kids Watercolor Class (ages 10-17).  

On Thursday afternoons, McGuire can be found at Salt Valley Arts teaching a Drawing Class for Homeschoolers, which allows homeschool parents the flexibility to fit art into their child’s schedule 1-4 (or 5) times a month, and is catered to the students in the class and their skill levels.  

McGuire teaching skills are not only shared with kids, however, as he also teaches adult art classes.  On Tuesday mornings from 10-11:30, McGuire teaches The FUNdamentals of Drawing at Salt Valley Arts, for students ages 17 and older, and on Thursdays he teaches an Adult Watercolor Class from 10-1.  Keith’s been teaching watercolor as long as he’s been teaching drawing, and started in 1985 in Hawaii as well.  “It’s just been fun,” McGuire said.  “I like passing knowledge on - it’s just fun as heck.”

Recently, McGuire found another way to pass along his vast knowledge of art - on YouTube.  “A friend of mine said, ‘why don’t you do online videos?’” McGuire says that his son hated art, and wouldn’t do anything artsy with him, so he’s happy that he can pass along his knowledge in this new way.  With over thirty videos posted to his YouTube channel (r k mcguire), McGuire guides viewers through watercolor painting and manga drawing projects in a step-by-step, multi-camera style.

Outside of teaching, McGuire puts his self-taught artistic skills to use by doing graphic design work for a number of different places, including The News Arts & Antiques and the Saline District Library.  For more info on his classes, check out the Community Education website or  To see his videos, follow this link to his YouTube channel: r k mcguire.  


Katherine Downie's picture
Katherine H. Downie
Katherine Downie is a local artist and art educator. She serves on the executive committee of the Saline Celtic Festival, on the board of the Saline Area Players, and on the Saline Library Art Exhibit Committee.

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