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Great Lakes Article:

Artist gets students' attention on drawing
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 lines.

"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 Great Lakes."

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," he said.

Principal Dominic Greene said Woodruff got the kids enthusiastic about drawing -- and about the content of what they were illustrating.

"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.



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