ARLINGTON -- Children's book illustrator David Catrow visited Goodman, Thornton and Webb Elementary in the Arlington Independent School District on Thursday morning. His visit was the fourth of the 2011-12 Storybook Series, a joint venture of the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation, JCPenney, Storyopolis Entertainment and the Arlington Chamber Foundation.
Catrow spoke to a couple hundred first-graders about his inspiration for his illustrations and how he truly felt like he was an artist from birth. He didn't just speak about himself, however, he also drew. Ten illustrations accompanied his story, beginning with a baby with a crayon and paintbrush prominently featured above his head.
Catrow hoped to help the young students figure out what inspires them by sharing his story, creativity and entertaining drawings. He told of a childhood day when his art teacher instructed the class to draw a very basic bird using two circles and a triangle. He was reprimanded for drawing the bird the way he imagined it, extravagantly detailed and including feathers.
"I think that it is important for kids to hear that story because for kids there are so many pressures on them that they start forgetting about themselves a little bit and what it is that gets them up in the morning and what they love to do," Catrow said.
Several students in attendance enjoyed Catrow's drawings.
"David Catrow draws funny people. [I learned he] draws small and big people," said Thornton Elementary first-grader Jaime Ruiz.
Midway through the program, Catrow invited three students to the front of the library to mark on his drawing pad. He then turned each marking into three unique creative pieces.
Leonel Medina enjoyed this section of the presentation the best. His favorite part was "when they [drew] something, he figured out what to draw."
"Art is something very close to my heart, obviously, but I talked about how I sensed in myself this desire to create and observe things around. I really feel like I was an artist when I was born," said Catrow.
Catrow traveled from Ohio as part of the Storybook Series: Building Arlington One Book at a Time, which brings a different children's author or illustrator to town each month.
Illustrator C.F. Payne will be the Storybook Series' next visitor when he speaks on Jan. 12.
Alan H. Rose is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.