BATH TOWNSHIP — For months, Bath Elementary School pupils have been looking at professional book illustrations from Henry Cole.On Monday, they saw slides of some earlier work: A picture of his family drawn in second grade, many of his family farm, the family car parked in the living room, and one of his mother wearing a mink scarf.“I tried to make her all glamorous. ... It looks like a python is strangling her,” Cole said to his young audience's delight. Bath invites a guest illustrator/author to the school every year. But first, pupils become very familiar with the work and do projects in preparation for the visit. Some of that work can be found at http://j.mp/J70s73.Cole, who has illustrated nearly 100 books, grew up on a dairy farm, spending much of his days drawing the farm and lots of chickens. The animal is still a favorite and seen in several of his books. Cole, who earned a degree in forestry, incorporates nature into many of his books.“I have all these science things in my head, was a nature nut as a kids, so when I illustrate lots of animal stuff, I already have that background. My research is already under way,” he said. Cole taught science for 17 years before submitting one of his ideas to a publisher and has been illustrating, writing and talking with pupils ever since. He will be in Deshler today. He hopes he shows pupils that they can make a living doing something they love, like drawing. “I like to draw and now I am making a living at it,” said Cole, whose mother was a fashion Illustrator during the Great Depression. Working along to music just as he does in his Fort Lauderdale, Fla., studio, Cole quickly drew two pictures for pupils. One, a “silly” one of an alligator and chicken playing horns together. The next, a more serious picture of a mouse from one of his books. He drew the mouse with just a black crayon. “You can be an illustrator by using very simple tools,” he told pupils. Cole comes to schools wanting pupils to learn that their first try at something, whether it be art or a class assignment, shouldn't always be their last. He showed a slide of a stack of revisions for one of his books, telling pupils that his editor/publisher is like his teacher.“If you don't get it right the first time,” he told them. “Keep trying.”You can comment on this story at www.limaohio.com.
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