John Stanisci provides relief through online drawing classes
Apr 22, 2020 | 1700 views | 0 0 comments | 57 57 recommendations | email to a friend | print
John Stanisci with his mother Lenore Zuspan.
John Stanisci with his mother Lenore Zuspan.
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Forest Hills artist John Stanisci has been helping residents cope with the coronavirus pandemic by offering a nightly distraction.

“I wanted to do something that could offer people a fun distraction while we are sitting at home,” Stanisci said. “The response has been rewarding.

Every evening at 7:05 p.m., he offers a complimentary 45-minute illustration class via Facebook Live at facebook.com/john.stanisci.1.

His class attracts a couple hundred of guests, who are discovering their own talents while watching him transform a blank canvas into works of art. Every class is recorded remains on his timeline.

“People tell me that they have coronavirus, are quarantined, and cannot be near their family,” Stanisci said. “For some who are with their children, they are able to take my class in separate rooms. Someone said that he has underlying conditions, his wife is a first responder, and he’s worried that she will get it. He looks forward to my class every night. Those kinds of messages mean a lot.”

A large range of classes cover anatomy, drawing in perspective, light and shadow, animals, fantasy creatures, cars, laying out a comic book page, and visual storytelling and inking.

“My 13-year-old daughter Olivia learned that it’s not just about drawing something exactly as you see it, but by allowing your own style to shine through and to be confident in your abilities,” said Lynbrook resident Wendy Biondi, whose husband and four children watch Stanisci’s classes. “During dinner, Olivia takes out her art pad. She is very shy and never likes to show her work, so I secretly sent John some of her drawings from his class. He praised her work, which I passed on to her, and just from that little bit of inspiration, I’ve seen a change for the better.”

Stanisci also discusses his philosophies about art and being an artist and its emotional territory. He does not visualize it as a “how to draw class.”

“I think of it as a ‘how to think’ class,” he said. “I was not born with a ton of natural ability, but learned how to do it through a lot of time, practice, and hard work. As a result, I developed thinking processes that I apply whenever I draw and no matter how difficult the subject is. People said they thought about something differently, and that is very gratifying.”

Stanisci’s students include his mother, Lenore Zuspan from Tallahassee, Florida, who is homebound with her husband.

“His sessions have given me a wonderful way to see and hear him each evening, and something uplifting in this time of difficulty,” she said. “I don’t draw or paint, but watching John work has made me aware of how strong his work ethic is, and how it can be applied as life lessons in all ways, not just as a comic book artist.”

Another student is his wife Suzie Cho. His class reminded her how all artists face blocks and hurdles.

“It’s self-care to allow the freedom to be human and have faith that these blocks will pass, if you’re willing to work through them,” she said. “It reminds me that art needs to be watered and fed daily with practice.”

Stanisci is a professional comic book artist known for his work with Marvel and DC Comics, ranging from Batman to Superman to Spiderman. He is an inker, penciller, and writer. Among his most noteworthy works is a graphic novel, “Batman Beyond: Hush Beyond,” a New York Times bestseller.

At IDW Publishing, his achievements include Judge Dredd and The X-Files. His latest sci-fi graphic novel is “LifeDeath,” which is described as an action-packed thrill ride where the spirit world collides with future science spiraling out of control. It can be ordered at lifedeathogn.com.

In 2017, he volunteered for three fundraisers at local restaurants, selling his prints and sketching upon request. The money raised helped fund the local mural “A Tribute To Ascan Avenue & The Forest Hills Gardens.”

Rego Park resident Joe Vega reminisced how drawing was a perfect distraction during his childhood.

“Hours would pass, seeming like minutes,” he said. “In John’s class, I've learned useful shading and perspective techniques. The elephant illustration class was most enjoyable, likely because I’m a huge Edgar Rice Burroughs fan.”

“I was excited to see that one of my neighbors was providing a live art class, and it’s extremely comforting to listen to his stories and art tips while watching him create masterpieces,” said Suzanne Koch of Forest Hills, who found his session on the human figure most interesting. “I loved how he explained the body’s angles and shapes. John inspired me to start drawing and painting again.”

Titi Yasukawa lives in Forest Hills with her husband, son, and daughter.

“John is like the drawing version of painter Bob Ross,” she said. “It’s soothing to even just watch.”

Yasukawa feels that his class awakened a dormant artist.

“I’ve always liked to draw, but never worked hard to pursue it,” she said. “There was a session where John was drawing a tiger and his explanation made it so easy to follow. There are times when my kids and I draw along with him, and they watch how the picture starts to appear out of seemingly nowhere. They often want me to post comments, and when John responds using their name, they’re so happy.”

Between the pandemic and being a breast cancer survivor, Wantagh resident Rosanne Cipolla-Keefer is under quarantine.

“My husband, my son Nicholas, and I love his classes,” she said. “Nicholas draws all the time and has been practicing the skills that John discusses.”
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