PRESCOTT -- As Skyview School students called out shapes they saw in a rabbit, illustrator Paul Mirocha sketched them on a whiteboard Thursday at the Prescott charter school.
"I see an oval in his body," first grader Kevin Phelan said.
Second-grader Lucas Kroll said, "His tail is a triangle."
"You're right," said Mirocha, whose highly detailed images of plants, nature, and food, combine the realism of photos with the emotional appeal of paintings.
Students then used those shapes to draw their own rabbits, and later added in details like fur, markings and backgrounds with sun, sky and grass.
"I like that he helps us see the shapes, and he chooses fun animals to draw," second-grader Katherine Ann Keenan-Pascale said.
Mirocha urged students to continue to look beneath the surface of things, and keep drawing and developing their creative thinking.
"I like drawing, because it's fun. If you draw more, then you draw better," first-grader Addy Baxter said.
Skyview School Art Teacher Yvonne Holland invited Mirocha, whose work has been featured in children's books, advertising and exhibits, to work with kindergartners through eighth-graders throughout this week as they drew bison, whales, horses and other animals.
"He is doing a class that we termed as 'Drawing is Seeing,'" Holland said. "Taking animals and plants to their basic shape level and helping kids look at things from a very simplified perspective."
Students worked in tables of five, sharing erasers and encouraging each other.
"The basic philosophy I want to convey is everyone is an artist," Mirocha said. "Anyone can draw; there's nothing to it. You just work at it and practice."
Mirocha reminded students to use a light hand drawing basic shapes and a heavier line to blend shapes and add detail, and that their eraser is just as important as their pencils.
"You should spend more time looking at the animal or whatever you're drawing than what's on your paper," Mirocha said.
"I know they're very excited to be learning techniques to draw from a realistic point of view," Skyview School Director Scott McCreery said. "They've been showing me their drawings every day."
Mirocha said he's had fun drawing with the kids, took photos of their work, and wishes there was more time to look at the artwork they want to show him from home.
"In every grade, all the kids exceeded what my expectations were," Mirocha said. "There's always one or two kids who draws as good or better than me."
Mirocha noticed some students drew in manga-anime style, and told them Picasso and the Impressionists began drawing realistically and developed a more abstract style over time.
Second-grader Damian Giese-Johnson declared, "I love to draw. I'm going to be an artist when I grow up."
Mirocha said he wished he could have spent a couple of weeks with the students so they could create a field guide.
"When I open my sketchbook and look at a drawing, I remember the smells and sounds around me while I was sketching," Mirocha said. "Drawing uses all your senses."