Dave DeVries, Marvel Comics artist and illustrator for Universal Studios, brought his award-winning project, The Monster Engine, to Salt Brook School in New Providence on Dec. 5. DeVries’ multi-year project began with the question: What would a child’s drawing look like if it were painted realistically? The answer evolved into a 48-page collection of drawings, paintings, photos and interviews in which DeVries demonstrates how he turns a child’s pencil sketch of a monster into a realistic 3D painting.

Prior to DeVries’ visit, teachers instructed students to create their own pencil sketch of a monster. He then picked two drawings via lottery and transferred the sketches onto large black boards. During the school-wide assembly, DeVries began with a slide show to help students understand the book’s main theme and then demonstrated how to turn the sketches into realistic paintings.

The students watched the transformation happen before their eyes, and many had the opportunity to add their own touches to his paintings. The original sketches remained next to his paintings for comparison during the demonstration. DeVries’ interaction with the students made it a unique and exciting experience for the audience. He also joined two groups of students for lunch and gave them tips on their artwork. Salt Brook art teacher Michelle Hoogerhyde was instrumental in organizing all aspects of DeVries’ visit.

Sponsored by the Salt Brook PTA, The Monster Engine assembly helped to enhance the students’ art skills and appreciation for art and was a wonderful way to promote creativity.