August 15, 2018

Illustration Workshops

Illustration Workshops are the heart of my programs. Introductory lectures or assemblies give your students the opportunity to see examples of my work, hear the stories behind them, and interact through questions-and-answers. My hands on illustration workshops pull it all together, through their own creative endeavors.

 These Illustration Workshops engage students of all grade levels, in fun, yet challenging, drawing projects. Through storytelling and step-by-step instructions, students become Illustrators, turning words and ideas into pictures – each, in their own unique way. Simple lines and shapes soon transform blank paper, into complex, believable, three-dimensional illustrations. The results are often far beyond their expectations. Back in the classroom, many students want to keep right on drawing, some, even through recess.

Much more can be done with their work. Finished drawings hold a wealth of information about the selected topic, making this a great introduction to creative writing projects.

Teachers may select topics to fit their curriculum, request new topics, or leave it to me.

Single-session Workshops result in illustrations, broadsides, or cover art for a folder. Multiple-session Workshops result in Books of 4-8 pages, with extensive drawing, and emphasis on visualizing, outlining and writing techniques. For scheduling the following times are recommended, though flexible.

               (Grades K -1) 30-55 minutes       (Grades 2-6) 55 minutes or more

(Grades 7-Adult) 55 minutes/full-day      (In-Service Workshop) Half-day


Setup needs are basically the same as for assemblies. In the workshops, it is even more important that students can see and hear what is going on. The quality of their work depends on it! I’ve shared my Workshops successfully with groups of all sizes, but, smaller is better. Students will need white drawing paper, note paper and two sharpened pencils.

I recommend that all adults present, participate. It’s a good message to send, and just a drawing!

Everyone Can do this!



In a 30-minute Illustration Workshop, with kindergartners at Elba Elementary, in Lapeer, we explored the story of Old Broken Nose, and the Iroquois False Face Healers. This was the first time I’d adapted this complex story to such a young age group. I was so impressed with the results, I copied them all. There were tall ones, short ones, skinny ones, funny ones, even scary ones. Emily’s drawing, was selected for the cover of “Creative Connections”, a county-wide anthology of K-12 student works!

“…but, that drawing looks far too complicated for my students.”
a  heartfelt comment from a concerned and admittedly art-challenged teacher

My father taught me long ago, that I could do anything I set my mind to. He encouraged me, towards almost everything I aspired to be when I grew up. As a child, those choices changed with the wind. One day a sailor, the next, an astronaut, then, a paleontologist. He’d put his big hand on my shoulder, look me square in the eye, and say -”Tommy, the world is your oyster.” My gut reaction, then, was “Yuck!” But, I knew he meant well. He knew I had time to make up my mind, and that getting there is half the fun. Years later, I acquired a taste for oysters and learned the value of the pearls inside. In my workshops, we seek the pearls and savor the journey, knowing we can do anything if we try.

“My kids won’t believe I did this!” 
the same teacher, one hour later

“Many of the children, who often reflect a negative self concept, expressed themselves through their artwork in such a unique and positive way…Many of the children who are categorized in Special Education, related to the tasks in such a way that their handicapping conditions were not there.

– Tammy Miller, Counselor, Sheridan Elementary School

“During this workshop a great deal of learning took place for all those involved. Not only did the children learn but also the staff. Tom Woodruff was warmly welcomed by everyone. He shared a great deal of himself and did so in a genuine and sincere way. His enthusiasm for art and for the life around the Great Lakes region was contagious. Make that highly contagious!!”

– Kathy Heinze, Elementary Art Educator, Greenville Schools


Some Workshop Examples 



Woodruff Designs