Drawing Between the Lines: How Conor Cooley Turns Homework Into Artwork

Walking into any class that has Conor Cooley in it, you can tell he is an artist. Bent over his sketch pad, doodling or working on a small project, he looks up as he does his work and listens to directions, but immediately after he finishes his work he will turn back to his passion.

Most of Conor’s art is in the margins of his school assignments.

Conor is a junior at U-32 who has become known as one of the best sketchers in the school. Known for his elaborate doodles on the worksheets he’s given in class, he has made a name for himself as an artist. Cooley has become known for his elaborate doodles on the worksheets he’s given in class, and has made a name for himself as one of the best freehand drawers in the school.

Conor has had a passion for art ever since he was young. Early on, he bought coloring books where he would color in between the lines to bring the black and white pictures to life. But he didn’t really like that. “I started wanting to make my own pictures instead of wanting to color things in,” he recollects. “It wasn’t ever about being good, it was about it being enjoyable to me, the biggest thing was, it was something for me to focus on.”

Dia De Los Muertos artwork in Conor’s Spanish notebook.

Now Conor focuses on realism in his art pieces. “I really like realistic things, or combining abstract and realism.” Abstract means the art isn’t a definite object, it’s random shapes and colors put together. Realism is getting all the details into the object and making it look as real as possible. When describing Conor, Krista Dy, his art teacher since 7th grade, had this to say: “He came into my class and was always in the zone. He wouldn’t talk that much, he would just focus on his work and produce pieces with incredible detail.”

Conor has picked up some techniques to make his art more realistic. He uses “pens for cross hatching, which is for decreasing space, and I use interlocking lines to show shadows.” Krista Dy said Conor “has an incredible imagination and is great at transferring those ideas to paper.”


Some of Conor’s art is featured in the Chronicle’s header. Below is a gallery of some of his more recent work.

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