Moose Lake sixth-grader combines love of sports, drawingEarlier this year, the assembled members of the entire Moose Lake elementary school recognized sixth-grader Isaac Riihiluoma and his remarkable artistic ability. Specifically, they applauded the fact that Isaac’s drawing of basletball star LeBron James was published in the September issue of “Sports Illustrated Kids.”
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Earlier this year, the assembled members of the entire Moose Lake elementary school recognized sixth-grader Isaac Riihiluoma and his remarkable artistic ability. Specifically, they applauded the fact that Isaac’s drawing of basletball star LeBron James was published in the September issue of “Sports Illustrated Kids.”
It wasn’t the first time Isaac had been published in the junior version of that hallowed magazine. Nor, most likely, will it be the last.
Isaac said he would “probably” send in more artwork in the future, but sending his drawings away is something he has to think about first.
“If I like it enough, but not enough that I think I should keep it, then I will send it,” the sixth-grader said, “because they don’t send it back.”
That’s OK every once in a while, because mom and dad, Lisa and Paul Riihiluoma, have a scrapbook filled with Isaac’s artwork starting when he was a toddler.
The talented youngster showed an aptitude for art before he could even put pen to paper.
“When he was just a toddler, he loved Scooby Doo, and we had different Scooby Doo storybooks with lots of pictures,” Lisa said. “He would take whatever book grabbed his attention, take paper and pencil and find his dad and make him draw Scooby Doo. He would sit very still and watch his dad draw Scooby Doo and the gang for a year or two before he could really start to do his own thing. He was a squirrelly, active, antsy child, but he would sit very still to watch his dad draw.”
Once Dad was finished, Isaac would take the drawing and color it in. He remembers watching his dad draw, although there are other moments his parents talk about that didn’t stick.
“He always had a unique coloring style for such a young child,” Lisa added. “He would stay within the lines and he always picked the colors. You know how some kids will pick one color and scribble across the whole thing? He never did that.”
When Isaac started doing his own drawings, Paul said Isaac continued with his unique approach.
“It always struck me,” Paul said. “I draw from the outside in, creating the shape and then creating the details inside. Isaac would always start with some details and work his way out. Half the time you wouldn’t know what it was going to be until it was nearly complete. All of a sudden, he would put the shape around it.
“That’s when I knew it was more of a gift than just a kid who liked to draw.”
Isaac is well spoken and thoughtful, sometimes pondering an answer to a question, other times responding almost immediately. He is confident, but not precocious. He obviously enjoys drawing, but it doesn’t consume him. It is something, however, that he’s willing to work at (when he’s not playing sports or making movies).
Recently, after using grids in mathematics, Isaac embarked on a new method of drawing. While he’s been going on the Internet to search for images that he would like to draw for a couple of years, now he chooses an image, then places it on a grid (using Microsoft Word) and prints it out. Using a ruler, he then pencils in another grid on a piece of paper before starting on his own drawing.
His new method is almost a complete reversal of the “details first, outline later” approach he innately used to draw.
“First I sketch just the outlines, then I draw the details,” Isaac said, noting that using the grid helps him figure out where to put the eyes and ears more accurately. “That’s usually when I erase the grid. Then I use my colored pencils and color in the player. The last thing I do is the background.”
Shading, he noted later, is his favorite thing to do.
Speaking of favorite things, when asked if he’s aiming to be a famous artist, Isaac says no, he’d like to be a professional athlete. If that doesn’t work out, he’s likely to be an animator.
“Sports is probably my favorite thing to do – I like baseball, basketball and football – and then it would be drawing,” the 12-year-old said.
Favorite thing to do on a sunny day?
“Probably play catch with my dad or run [football] routes,” he said.
Favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
“Play video games.”
“Pirates of the Caribbean.”
“Harry Potter, all of them.”
While drawing wasn’t mentioned, Isaac does note that he enjoys combining the joys of sports and drawing. For the past couple of years, he’s been drawing different sports personalities – portraits and action shots – usually in their proper season. His recent collection also includes a number of tiger drawings, including an ink drawing that took first prize at the Carlton County Fair for ink drawings in the 12 to 16 age group (even though he was only 11) and a reserve champion ribbon overall.
“Before sports came along, [Isaac] drew every day,” his mom said. “Now, between sports and school, plus making movies with his friends … it’s not daily anymore.”
Isaac has gone through several phases with his drawing.
“I didn’t like to draw people until a couple years ago,” he said. “Before that I would just draw animals and cartoons.”
Garfield was a favorite for a long time, as was Scooby Doo. More recently, he came up with his own cartoon characters, Darch and Carl.
And then there are the movies – spy movies, to be exact. Isaac and his friends act in them, sometimes his sister Ellie, 14, will film them and Isaac is usually the one who edits and adds in sound effects, with assistance from Windows Movie Maker
Talented artist? Yes.
Well rounded kid?
That seems to be the case, and the main priority for the Riihiluoma family, who moved to Moose Lake from the Twin Cities when Isaac was in kindergarten. They were looking for a smaller community, and Paul’s family was from the Kettle River/Cloquet area originally.
“We love that our kids can be involved in all kinds of things here [in Moose Lake],” Lisa said. “No, there’s no art class at the school, but he can draw on his own all he wants. But he can be in every sport there is, be involved in Math Masters, choir and band when he’s older and he doesn’t have to pick and choose. It’s the same with our daughter: she can be in everything.”
Even though art was only offered for a year since Isaac started school, every teacher has recognized his talent and provided lots of encouragement, his parents add.
“We like the pace and the people here,” Paul said.
So does Isaac. That’s true whether he’s filming a sword fight in the basement, playing his beloved sports, drawing ideas for the set of a community play or just messing around with pencil and paper on a rainy day in Moose Lake.