Thursday, 28 July 2011

For the love of Ed Emberley

Drawings by my daughter
A few months ago, the very wonderful Heather Ross mentioned the Ed Emberley drawing books on her blog and how much she'd loved them as a child. I bought a copy of his Drawing Book of Faces from Amazon then, but didn't give it to my children until yesterday. It was met by oohs and aahs and we all sat down with some paper and pens and happily started working our way at random through the pages.

Top: by my daughter, Middle: by my little boy, Bottom...um, by me.

Ed Emberley's books are amazing - they have rows and rows of drawing sequences that show you how to build up from the initial shape to the finished picture, indicating the lines and shapes that need to be drawn at each stage. This appeals to me as it's the way that I taught my daughter to draw when she was very small, although with a lot less visual appeal than Ed Emberley. Wanting to draw a picture of a house as a toddler she was overwhelmed, until it was broken down into a series of sequentially drawn squares and rectangles...it's the same with wishing to draw a horse as an older child - it's helpful to have it fragmented (that's where we really need Ed....horses have always foxed me and my daughter has long outgrown my rudimentary drawing instruction). As well as his Faces book, we are also tempted by his Drawing Book of Animals, and perhaps most usefully, his Make a World book, which covers the drawing of most things you might like to include in a picture.

I know that some might dislike this formulaic method when it comes to childrens' drawings, but for me, I think rather than removing creativity, it enables it. Once the elements that make for a well drawn face or horse are demonstrated, it's then a springboard for creativity, producing things that look like the artist hoped they might, rather than feeling frustrated that things never come together on paper as they do in one's head.


They make for perfect rainy-day summer fun...or even early morning fun, as I was greeted by the book and a small boy coming into my bed at 6.30am this morning. Do you have any similar book or activity recommendations?

Florence x

17 comments:

  1. oh I Love Ed Emberley, I must get this book. Coincidentally my daughter is just now having a go at the bubble writing book, but I think it's going to take a bit of practice - there is a lot of sighing going on!

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  2. Snap! We were planning to use the Bubble Writing book today too. Will prepare for deep sighs also then...

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  3. We have that book. Must resurrect it. Fun fun.

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  4. I'm with you that it encourages creativity rather than stifles it. I didn't hear of Ed Emberley until now but we had a similar kind of guy, Don Conroy, when I was a kid. I systematically drew through everything in his book and used the basics for all sorts of wild imaginings!

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  5. We are huge Ed Emberley fans in our house too. I would highly recommend the World book - there are loads of lovely buildings,a nd furniture in it as well as more typical Ed characters. It is my daughter's favourite. We also have Faces and Animals. I want to get the Weirdos one next.

    I bought some Ed Emberley fabric from a seller on Etsy a while back, and made some glorious pencil cases with it. It is tricky to track down, but so much fun to make things with. Crayon Rolls, a baby blanket, a little craft apron....

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  6. That looks like an awesome series! Penelope would love it!,, thanks for the info, I must have missed it on heathers blog. :)

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  7. These are great - must have a look for it. When I was a child I had a great book which used an egg shape as the basis of lots of things - mice I remember were especially nice.

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  8. Oh...I see lots of fun here!!! Thank you !!

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  9. How fun is this?!?! I used to love learning to draw from instruction as a child. It never came naturally to me. This book looks perfect for afternoon fun! ~Val

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  10. Have a look at http://www.monart.com/

    Mona Brookes has written art books for children - I've got 'Drawing for Older children & Teens A Creative Method for Adult Beginners Too. She also wrote 'Drawing with Children' - which I think would be more appropriate for your children's age group. They both contain similar material apparently. I got mine for me and I'm finding it fascinating. It's interesting to read and there is undoubtedly lots of useful information in the book; which will help to draw anything - with reference to different styles. Its stress is on learning how to look at what we see - learning how to break down the shapes in order to record them on paper and recognising the shapes/marks we need to use to do so. (Mona Brookes call this the alphabet of shape - there are 5 basic shapes, the elements of which, make up the shapes of everything). It is a book for children to learn to draw but it is quite sophisticated. So for children who are frustrated at their attempts because they want what they draw to look more real (amongst other things) this is a useful book. No styles are scoffed at - we look at flat drawing, line drawing, gesture drawings as well as the tools needed to make realistic looking drawings - e.g, shading and perspective. Lots of info which I think is best filtered through an adult - although the book I have is meant to be able to be used by the older child themselves. The 'Drawing with Children' book is definitely meant to use with an adult. The content is more geared up towards the younger child - up to 8 years old I think.

    You can read inside the books on Amazon - definitely in Amazon.com if not .co.uk. I like a lot of what she says. It makes sense to me. Of course no book can do it all for you but I do like this one.

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  11. What a fantastic book! I really like the idea of things being broken down into a "drawing process". Great pictures!

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  12. Ha! I did the exact same thing. I bought the faces and animals books at the same time. We love them (although there is a little repetition). In fact I'm not sure who got a bigger kick out of them - me or my 6 year old daughter. I will definitely be buying the world book. Hours of fun.

    Ceri

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  13. Ed Emberley fabric - that sounds amazing!

    Anonymous - thank you so much for the suggestion and for taking the time to tell me what it's all about - I really appreciate it and it sounds fantastic.

    Thank you so much for your comments,
    Florence x

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  14. I love those Ed Emberley illustrations! I can't wait till my kids are old enough to enjoy things like this.

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  15. By coincidence, my sister just gave this to I as a belated birthday present! she is busy drawing all manner of animals now. What a brilliant book!

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  16. What a lovely book. My older daughter has been quite a study at drawing. She's been drawing, learning from me, since the age of 2 and a half. She's quite good but always has to see me draw something before she can spring board with her own creations and interpretations. This book looks like a fabulous tool for getting her going and giving me more time with sewing. Love!

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  17. Have you thought about making fabric out of your children's drawings (and your own!) I made some fabric on www.spoonflower.com and am now addicted to creating my own prints :)

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x