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Visiting Illustrator and Author Lee Harper Gives Lesson on Creative Expression

lee harper Armed with pencils and clipboards, Wedgwood Elementary School first and second-graders took instruction on April 15th from visiting and award-winning picture book illustrator and author Lee Harper, who guided the budding artists through a drawing session on several of his popular book characters.  Harper encouraged the students to consider their personal interests to create story ideas, to look for inspiration all around them and to practice, practice, practice.


Harper, a native of Pitman, N.J. and a graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, is best known for his illustrations for the best-selling Turkey Trouble Series written by Wendi Silvano. Books both written and illustrated by Harper include Snow! Snow! Snow!, Coyote, and The Emperor's Cool Clothes. He also has illustrated for Walter Dean Myers (Looking for The Easy Life) and Leslie Helakoski (Woolbur and Ready or Not, Woolbur Goes To School).


“Make things up and exaggerate,” Harper told the students while they were re-creating the Woolbur main character with him. “Things from your real life can find their way into your sketches. Add background to make your drawings interesting. I found that I like to draw silly characters, and I have been able to create stories around them.”


Harper explained his personal creative process, which involves making characters out of clay, moving to quick sketches and then, once selected by the publisher, tracing and painting in water color to produce the finished sketch.



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Picture book illustrator Lee Harper poses with Wedgwood Elementary School librarian Melissa Dabrowski beside his sketch of Woolbur.



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Wedgwood students sketched during a guided lesson by Lee Harper.



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Lee Harper admires the student-versions of his Woolbur title character.