Born in Los Angeles, California, Mona Brookes was always the school artist. This talent was noticed, and she received two scholarships to continue her art education. She used them to pursue a double major at Pepperdine College in art and psychology combined with social service.
After college she went to work as a probation officer and worked in social services for the next 12 years, helping to rehabilitate delinquent teens, aiding parolees to gain useful employment, and conducting art classes for the inmates. Having worked continuously as a freelance artist on the side, Mona decided to retire from social service and she went back to graduate school to update her skills in graphic arts. To supplement her income, Mona took a position in a nursery school. Little did she know that this job would lead to developing an art curriculum that would eventually become the basis for a revolutionary new technique for teaching art and the publication of her book, Drawing With Children.
Mona was asked by the director of the nursery school to develop arts programs for the teachers and the 100 four and five-year-old students. This simple request turned into a passionate involvement. During the first year, she created a noncompetitive environment where she taught the children to draw through a step-by-step explanation of how to observe all visual data throughout five basic elements of shape. The classroom results were outstanding. She received a three year grant that allowed her to refine the technique that she was developing and test it at several schools: a school of 100 normal four and five-year-olds, one of 75 designated learning handicapped delinquent teen-agers at Jr. High and Senior Level, and one of emotionally disturbed children from 6 to 18. It worked. In 1981 Mona started "Monart," an art school for 125 children and began giving in-service training workshops to elementary school teachers all over California. Eventually, teachers all over the country were clamoring to be taught the method. Unable to satisfy their demands in person, Mona decided to put her techniques into a book form that could be used by everyone—teachers, adults, parents, and social workers alike, to learn or teach drawing and all its benefits.
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