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NOTE! This is an EXPIRED article.

Illustrator draws attention to cartooning

Steve Harpster with student

Steve HarpsterBy Rebecca McLean
Elementary school librarian

Elementary students enjoyed a visit with illustrator Steve Harpster on Tuesday, December 11. Using his iPad Pro and slick illustration software, Mr. Harpster demonstrated the drawing of sea creatures, cute critters, and crazy made-up animals like the “Unicorn-narwhal!” Better yet: Our students got to draw these creatures right along with him.

His message to our students was “to practice what you love to do so that you’re the best that you can be at it, but don’t try to be perfect.” He shared some of his own early drawings, including some from when he was in elementary school. Those drawings had flaws and imperfections. But he told students that instead of erasing mistakes or starting over, they could choose to continue and see what unintended and interesting things happen to their drawings.

Judging from the impressive drawings that the students left his sessions with, and from the audible excitement and laughter coming from the Old Gym, it is clear Mr. Harpster made quite an impression on our students. He enjoyed his time with students and faculty as well. He was particularly impressed with our students’ enthusiasm and art skills, and he enjoyed having lunch with the staff.

We want to thank our staff and students for being so welcoming to and enthusiastic about Mr. Harpster. Thank you, teachers, for making time in your schedules for great visits like this, and for helping by sharpening pencils and accommodating extra students in a pinch.

A very special thank you goes to our own “in-house” illustrator Cindy Bodziak, who did a stellar job of prepping our students for the drawing lessons, getting them excited about the visit, and supplying us with drawing supplies for 500 people (because even the teachers were getting into drawing)! We also want to thank the Ottawa Hills Schools Parent Association for single-handedly supporting our author and illustrator visits year after year. You, OHSPA, are a giant part of the success of our OHES Library Program.

If you missed the opportunity to purchase books from Steve Harpster before or during his visit, you may purchase signed copies from his website at www.harptoons.com. You also can find fun drawing videos there as well.

Fourth-grade students took the time afterward to share their thoughts:

  • “I loved drawing today. It was very fun!” Anna Artemchik
  • “The session was the best. It was super creative and amazing. He could draw anything from a number.” Gates Begeman
  • “He was amazing. I liked how he could turn a number or a letter into a picture.” Graham Burns
  • “I loved his art work. It was amazing how he did that. And I made him laugh. It was so cool.” Blake Craver
  • “Steve Harpster was the best. He would go slow for us and wait. He also had a wheel and whatever we got, we put on our photo. I love his creativeness. It was like being in a creative universe. I loved him being here. I didn’t want to leave him I was having so much fun. I hope I see him soon.” Chris Culler
  • “It was the best to learn to draw from an illustrator.” Sawyer Ellis
  • “Cool. Talented. Nice.” Adam Fizer
  • “Draw like Steve Harpster and you’ll get sharper. He has great enthusiasm in drawing.” Emmett Flanagan
  • “ He was the best. He even signed people’s books.” Dane Furey
  • “Steve Harpster inspired me to draw more and I would really love for him to teach us again.” Aryelle Genot
  • “A beautiful drawer makes a great earth.” Lorena Guardia
  • “Steve Harpster was so fun & enthusiastic. Be creative, be yourself, draw!” – Jasmine Hajjar
  • “Drawing is not always perfect, and Steve Harpster is great at drawing with lettes and numbers.” Sara Hamilton
  • “He was very inspiring and it was an awesome experience. It was interactive and he was hilarious.” Lizy Hoelzle
  • “He was so funny and I can’t even do that good!” Bella Howard
  • “Steve Harpster was a very enthusiastic, joyful man.” Brodi Kale
  • “Steve Harpster was amazing. I loved how he taught us to draw.” Rose Kile
  • “Steve Harpster is a kind man and a good artist. Someday, I wish I could be that good at art.” Rose Kowalczyk
  • “Our time with Steve Harpster was an experience I will never forget because he was so creative and enthusiastic. I hope he never loses his phenomenal imagination.” Lauren Laser (fourth grader)
  • “It’s so cool he came out to our school just to draw with us. It was amazing.” Mary Lathrop
  • “He was so cool. I almost fainted.” Henry Lenahan
  • “Your drawings are the BEST. You helped me draw. I liked how you can turn numbers and letters into such beautiful drawings. I love Steve Harpster.” Zahir Mahmood
  • “Steve Harpster was amazing. I loved him coming to our school. I could finally draw something amazing. He was awesome. I now learned when I draw with Steve Harpster, I can draw. I don’t know about anybody else, but I loved him coming here. It’s been so long since somebody has come to our school. But I loved Steve Harpster. I hope he can come every year. I also hope more people can come.” Ayah Metawa
  • “I’ve seen him one other time and they were both awesome.” Sterling Miller
  • “If I didn’t want to be a doctor I would want to be just like him. I didn’t want it to end.” Rory Norris
  • “I couldn’t believe it. I could not believe he was the actual Steve Harpster. I loved it.” Jillian Parsons
  • “I liked how he could turn letters and numbers into weird funny animals.” Walker Peterson
  • “It’s more fun when you’re not the only one having it.” Alexa Potts
  • “Anything can be done.” Prashid Poudel
  • “It was exciting, educational, and creative. I like using my imagination and drawing funny and cute characters.” Aurora Puskala
  • “He was the most funniest guy I met.” Lowell Shreve
  • “His energy lit up the room and he made our imagination spark. He encouraged me and I’m sure many others to let your imagination shine.” Ashleigh Speakman
  • “Steve Harpster is awesome. He can draw very well.” Henry Sun
  • “I like his saying, ‘Practice makes better but not perfect.’ He got me in the mode of drawing.” Preston Thom
  • “This guy was AMAZING! Because we actually got to draw with him. Do the same thing again please.” Max Toma




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