Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ed Emberley taught me how to draw

Edward Randolph Emberley (born October 19, 1931 in Malden, Massachusetts) is an American artist and illustrator.
Emberley is best known for his work with children's books. In particular, Emberley has contributed illustrations to instructional books for drawing. From an educational standpoint, Emberley believes that everyone can learn to draw. His instructional drawing books for children present simple step-by-step instructions and often employ the numbers, letters, and shapes with which early elementary-school-age children are beginning to familiarize themselves. His book Ed Emberley's A.B.C. uses this style of instruction exclusively, presenting a single letter-based drawing for each letter of the alphabet.
Emberley has illustrated or contributed to over 50 books. Many of the books were published in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Emberley has experienced a renaissance with adults who fondly remember using the books in their youth, and are now purchasing them for their children (or for themselves).

As a kid, I hung out at the library, mostly because it was one of the only public places my over-protective parents would allow me to roam beyond eyesight. The kids section and the art/comics section were my stomping grounds, and I must have gone thru all the books there at least three times over. Even back then I barely had the attention span for any books without pictures, and ever since I was old enough to look at things I've been a visual person. But one of the things I got that I was OBSESSED with, and caused quite a sum of late fees, was the Ed Emberley's How-To-Draw Books. These were like, my artistic bible growing up. He breaks stuff down SO SIMPLY that literally ANYONE can draw this stuff, and it's perfect for kids who want to draw, cuz it helps them make SENSE of all the crazy scribbles they do, and learn basic structure and how to use simple shapes to make a picture. I mean,look at this:

Even if you 'can't even draw a straight line' you can follow Ed's instructions. And for the record, hardly ANYONE can draw a straight line, regardless of their artistic skill. That's why rulers are so popular.

Look how simple that is. And after you draw all of the things he shows you, it arms you with the basic artistic ability to break stuff down that you see in real life into simple shapes and then build them back up into a picture on paper. Which is, essentially what an artist does.

Here's a review I found of Ed Emberley's Make A World book, that they recently reissued, which was my favorite by far. Honestly, this book changed my life. It makes anyone capable of drawing SO MUCH STUFF, that it's like your imagination just pours out onto the paper. At least it did for me.

How to Draw a Werewolf, from The Big Book of Weirdos. He was my favorite. I'm actually gonna get a tattoo of him sometime next year or so.

For more information:
Ed on Wikipedia
Ed Emberley search results on Amazon.com
Ed Emberley.com (requires Flash)
Make A Word: The Film (upcoming documentary on Ed Emberley's book)

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