WADSWORTH — Cartoonist Jeff Nicholas related stories via cartoons ranging from a kid who just wants to sing like Elvis to a dachshund and poodle that fall in love during a cartooning class Wednesday at Wadsworth Public Library.
“I illustrate and they (children) draw along with me,” Nicholas, 63, said. “Just some goofy little thing I have been doing since I was a kid and I thought, ‘Well, I can’t get it out of my system.’ ”
The retired Highland schoolteacher, who now resides in Cincinnati, travels around Ohio teaching all ages how to create art and have fun.
The program Wednesday was for kids in kindergarten through sixth grade was part of Medina County Arts Week.
After the group of about 50 kids found a spot on the floor to draw, Nicholas began with a story about the “king of rock ‘n’ roll” accompanied by several cartoon drawings.
“When I was a kid, I used to watch Elvis Presley,” Nicholas said. “Who knows who Elvis is?” he asked the children.
Nicholas explained that as a kid he would impersonate Elvis in a mirror, complete with a broom microphone stand, and work on the moves that helped propel Elvis to fame.
“The only problem was I couldn’t sing very well,” Nicholas told the group as laughter filled the room.
Nicholas held up another drawing and continued with his story.
“He sings flatter than a pancake, his high notes are so shrill,” Nicholas read aloud. “His low notes sound like foghorns and his pitch sounds like he’s ill.”
Next it was time to draw, and the kids watched Nicholas make his way to an easel, colored pencils and markers at the ready.
Before showing step-by-step how to draw a dodo, an extinct bird, Nicholas shared his three rules of cartooning.
The first of which is there are no rules.
“When you start drawing with me, your imagination might say, ‘I like what he’s doing, but I want to add something,’ ” Nicholas said. “You feel free to do that, to write your own rules when you cartoon with me.”
He then asked if the kids could handle his second rule, which is being able to draw a circle, followed by his third rule, that there are no such things as mistakes in cartooning.
“How many of you have ever started drawing a cat and ended up with a horse and thought that’s a great horse,” Nicholas asked the group. “I do that all the time.”
Nicholas, who is booked at 41 events throughout the state this summer, said he enjoys seeing what ideas the kids come up with for their cartoons.
“Just seeing what they do, I’m always amazed,” he said before the program. “They don’t have those inhibitions.”
Medina County Arts Council member Vicki Sheridan said the council tries to recognize different forms of the arts throughout the week.
“He is an excellent cartoonist, he is very well-known and the kids absolutely love him,” Sheridan said. “He is a perfect example of visual art.”