Artist gets students' attention on
By Gary W. Morrison
The Grand Rapids Press
Published March 10th, 2005
GRAND RAPIDS -- After learning some tips from a Michigan
children's book author and illustrator, Jack Vicari was
perfecting his own drawings of "yucky weeds"
and "tickle weeds."
"I learned how you can draw a fish with just wiggly
lines," the 7-year-old said.
"It is easy when you know how."
The secret to drawing is imagination, Tom Woodruff told
students at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic School.
Lines can be made to look like sand at a bottom of a pond,
and seaweed is easy to draw by making wiggly vertical
"But you can also make 'tickle weed,' which is what
my daughter calls it," Woodruff said. "You start
drawing a line at the top and just pretend someone came
up behind you and tickled you."
Woodruff, who grew up in Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor,
has produced four illustrated histories with and longtime
friend John Mitchell. Their latest is "Prehistoric
The artist shared his enthusiasm for learning last week
at the kickoff of March is Reading Month at the Grand
Rapids parochial school. After an all-school assembly,
he conducted workshops with students in each grade.
Woodruff told students he spends a lot of time doing
research. In the mind of an illustrator, words create
images, and images create stories, he said.
"My preliminary sketches give me the ideas,"
Principal Dominic Greene said Woodruff got the kids enthusiastic
about drawing -- and about the content of what they were
"Kids are able to learn something about the environment
and also illustrate it," Greene said. "He (Woodruff)
can connect with kids from where they are educationally
and take them much farther."
Woodruff said he likes to engage children in drawing
while teaching them about science and history.