Artist teaches children truly to see world

"I teach them (children) to see, not just look," says Sam Sutherland of the drawing class he runs at the Sequim Boys & Girls Club. A display of their work is at The Buzz, 128 N. Sequim Ave., through May.

Sutherland worked with children for many years, first volunteering in schools in Seattle, then in schools and the Boys & Girls Club in

Sequim. Last fall he suggested starting a drawing class for any interested children. He now has 22 young people who

show up regularly.

Sutherland provides the materials and art books, but the class focuses on what the students want to do. Sutherland never tells anyone what to draw or how to draw, but he does provide individual direction and suggestions. He loans out the art books after first checking with parents.

Mother painted

Sutherland's mother was an oil painter and taught him how to look at the world and see what was actually there, not just what he expected to see.

For instance, when you look at a table, you expect to see four legs and a flat top. Actually seeing the table means looking at the shadows and texture of the surfaces, seeing the varying shades of color and the mixture of colors. This is how artists must look at the world, Sutherland says, to portray it accurately.

Sutherland is a retired Boeing mechanical engineer. Drawing comes easily to him, but he is able to teach others to draw as well. For many years he sculpted in bronze and, when he volunteered in Seattle, he taught students to sculpt using plasticine, not bronze. They created a variety of large, communal sculptures.

However, plasticine is expensive, messy and takes a large space, so Sutherland thought drawing would work in Sequim.

Works with parents

He feels that many of his students have talent and he works with their parents to encourage the children to develop their gifts. He works with them to broaden their skills.

"I like all the energy around me," says Sutherland about why he holds the class three days a week, every week of the school year. He plans to continue as long as there is an interest.

He usually works with children 8 to 11 years old. He has seen some teens who enjoy drawing, but they are so busy with other activities that they don't take the time for a drawing class.

Sutherland has won a variety of awards for his work with children, including a governor's award four years ago. Still, Sutherland says working with the children and being part of their lives is his real reward.

Reach Dana Casey at

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the Oct 20
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates