Thursday, February 16, 2012

Jon Gnagy : America's Original TV Art Instructor

A few years back, a good friend of mine presented me with a Learn to Draw kit. Unlike such regular sets, where you have an assortment of materials, this kit, called the Master Art Set, had a very professional looking material set. It had three chalks of different grays, it had a sand paper set for flat-sharpening a pencil, it had oil pastels of a very good quality, sheets of paper of different kinds, Brushes, watercolor and so on. 

But what stuck me the most were the set of books that came with it! Each one of them was packed with information of the first quality. Drawing forms, Landscapes, Human Figures, Watercolors, Oil pastels and so on. These were not some stuff that was put together for creating a 'package'.  But very high quality lessons, that would actually work.

All these had the picture of a person, whom I thought must be an instructor.

After several years, I happened to look at one of the booklets on watercolor, and was so impressed by its standard, I wanted to know more, and was delighted to know the history.

The person responsible for the Kit and materials  was the Art instructor Jon Gnagy. He started to give instruction on TV as early as 1946! Jon, was a self taught artist, who went on to become a successful instructor, and pioneering the concept of TV art instruction. As you could see, his lessons were no nonsense , up-to-the point instructions of the highest standards.

Here is one from several such wonderful episodes.

He also came up with this idea of Art kits, and wrote those wonderful books that came along.

You can find more about this wonderful instructor and his works at this website maintained by his daughter Polly Seymour.  Jon Gnagy Website.

What is interesting is that these instructional books along with the materials are still available in a variety of combinations, and are available at various places such as Amazon.


Ross Lynem said...

What a fabulous Blog! It is amazing that you feature a Jon Gnagy Learn to draw kit here. It was only a few days ago that i was looking into these. As a kid i ordered one from his TV show and waited for the mailman every day until my kit arrived. It was what got me into art. Thanks for doing this and for following on my blog. Cheers! Ross

larry said...

Oh my goodness...I remember Jon Gnagy from what I was a kid..and that was a LONG time ago. Thanks for the memories, GS.

Jon Gnagy's Portfolio said...

My wife Polly is Jon Gnagy's daughter, and we have maintained the webpage on his life and work since 1996. We very much appreciated your tribute to him on your webpage/blog, and I hope you don't mind if I posted a link to it.

I have been updating the Jon Gnagy page. The original site was done in early HTML, and it is pretty basic. I guess it was when someone wrote, "stupidest and ugliest webpage ever," that I decided it was time to start over!

Using iWeb and some things I've learned over the years, we now have a new site but with the same address. It is also posted at

One of the pages lists a number of blogs, including yours.

I assume that it's okay to post your link. Thanks for your good words about Jon.

Thaddeus Seymour
Winter Park, FL

Ganapathy Subramaniam said...

Hi Thaddeus, great to hear from you. Thanks much for letting know of your beautiful website. Just like Jon Gnagy, this is a treasure. thanks.