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It’s about seeing common shapes differently. Like D.Frog
Every new class I teach is like embarking upon a new adventure mind trip.
It’s good to re-visit familiar terrain from a wholly different angle. Here, I do it upside-down, sideways, anyway-but-regular. I see it as the ultimate brain synapse challenge. Like quickie sit-ups, with a lilt!
For instance, I love drawing from Emberley. In each of the following, we start with the letter D, step-by-step. . . but holding the book itself upside down.
This is the way to see PURE SHAPE. Forget about the end result entirely.
Fact: Guess who has the hardest time doing the above — from all the people who’ve taken my illustration class — the artists, or the writers? The seasoned artists. Not all of them, but just a few. Why? It’s unfamiliar, not envisioning the end-result. These renegades then discover they are falling back into old patterns of drawing, unwilling to try something new. I remind them that this is the way to venture into new terrain. To discover new possibilities in drawing. How letting go of certain drawing habits will set them free. And when they allow it to happen, they smile. Inevitably.
Try any of the following. Bonus: If you render these, purely as shape, you can do them in ANY size, from tiny to titanic — no sizing tools needed!
Then notice how these same shapes re-occur in everything around you. . . .
Ed Emberley started illustrating children's books in the early 60's. He is well know for his drawing books, which some people claim sparked their interest in drawing. Emberley has written and illustrated over 80 children's books, of which some are drawing books and some are picture books. Woodcuts are not his main media, but in keeping with our woodcut theme of the last week I am showing a few of his books illustrated in that media. I really like Emberley's style, I think he's an American treasure.
#62 Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley (1992)
This book saved my sanity when I was babysitting my two year old nephew for a week, a nephew I really did not know well. The only time, while conscious, that he stopped crying was when I read this book. So I read it a thousand times, at least. For this reason, it will always, always have a place very near the top of my list. Thank you Ed! – Laura Reed
Fun to read. The die cut pictures often fascinate children. And this book makes for an easy flannel board or magnetic story. – Gina Detate
This was always a huge, huge hit. I often give it as a shower gift as it is such a good read aloud book for 3-5 year olds. Unlike many of my choices it is the pictures that are the focus here as the child is able to disassemble the potentially scary monster and make it go away all by herself. It deserves wide acclaim. – Christine Kelly
What kid empowerment! - Pat Vasilik
Empowerment is indeed the name of the game with this strange creation from Caldecott winning artist Ed Emberley. In this book a big green monster is invoked. As the die-cut pages are turned he appears, sharp white teeth and all. But just as he’s at his most ferocious, the process reverses. The text tells each part of the monster to go away and, with a turn of a page, go away it does. When at long last the kid can say, “and don’t come back! Until I say so,” the monster has been exorcised, the child firmly in control.
It’s popular. Ripped die-cut pages in libraries across the country can attest to that. It even inspired sequels of sorts (Glad Monster, Sad Monster and Bye-Bye, Big Bad Bullybug) though nothing can quite touch Big Green Monster’s fame and fandom. It was also rereleased not too long ago with a new shiny, sparkly package, though the monster remains pretty much the same inside.
Booklist said of it, “Graphically playful and exciting, this picture book promises to jazz up any story time and to give individual children a measure of control over at least ‘one’ monster.”
I love the hand puppet aspect of this.
For my part, I’ve always liked it because the cover looks like Kilroy Was Here.
Oh, why not. Let’s just start with what is undoubtedly the best thing ever. Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the 90-Second Newbery and James Kennedy, the author and organizer, was clever enough to know how to start things off. It seems that Aaron Zenz and his Boogie Woogie kids have made another video. And darned if it isn’t even better than their previous (genius) efforts. I liked it so much I’m including the Making Of film as well.
Those of you already familiar with the PBS Digital Studio’s remixes of Mr. Rogers, Julia Child, and Bob Ross (boy is that catchy) know that no one is safe when it comes to classic public television. They did a nice job with LeVar here too. It’s fun to watch based on his shifting facial hair alone.
Seems to me that LeVar Burton had his way of recommending books. Iron Guy Carl of Boys Rock, Boys Read has a different method: Scare them away with a PSA. Works for me!
Now here we have a movie coming out based on a YA novel I never read. I did listen to the Read It and Weep podcast episode about it, but now I suppose that was insufficient. I dunno. The creepy kiddo looks interesting but I may just hold out for The Last Apprentice film that’s coming out soon anyway.
Oksey-doksey. New publishing model time. It happens. Seems Rebecca Emberley and Deidre Randall are creating a new “hybrid children’s book imprint” called two little birds (something about that name just speaks to me). They’re pairing a picture book in print form with an app of the same title and publishing them simultaneously. The first book is the sure-fire winner The Itsy-Bitsy Spider, catchy song in tow.
You can learn more about their Kickstarter campaign here and read the article about it here.
Author Alan Silberberg has a different method of bringing videos and books together. He animates his thoughts on writerly advice. Like so:
Sweet screams never sounded so right.
Finally, the off-topic video (I did well this week, didn’t I? – she said like an eager puppy). Normally I’d eschew something as tawdry as a Gangnam Style parody, but . . . but . . . there are literary references! And for once the idea of looking like you’re riding a tiny pony makes odd sense.
If you want to see your children go zombie over a book, hold this one in front of them.
Then stand back and watch their eyes bulge out and their arms spring forward to get it out of your hands.
The Emberleys latest gem is an eye-popping delight. Bold, crisp cut-outs of rainbow colored monsters growl and jiggle to a raucous rendition of the popular repetitive song, "If You're Happy and You Know It."
As monsters jump out from all angles of the page with huge, hypnotic eyes, readers are coaxed to join in with the song and show they're monsters too by acting out various prompts.
First the monsters snort and growl, then they smack their claws, stomp their paws and twitch their tails. Next comes the silliest yet, wiggle your warts, as monsters shake their spotted bodies and flip around.
Then it's time for readers to show their stuff with a roar. As your child turns the page, a jagged mouthed monster opens his jaws wide over a two-page spread, suggesting just how loud they should cry out.
But wait, isn't it time for the tail of the song?
Clear out some furniture, Mom and Dad, it's time to do all six prompts at once!
If your children are silly and you know it, you won't want to miss this frenetic, fun book. The question is: who will be more wound up at the end? Your readers or the monsters?
Just be sure to have pile of multi-colored construction paper on hand when they tucker out. Nothing will delight them like snipping out monsters of their own.
To download the song, click here. If You're a Monster and You Know It is sung by Adrian Emberley, Rebecca's daughter and Ed's granddaughter.
Ed Emberley is beloved for his drawings books as well as many popular picture books, including the 1972 Caldecott Medal winning Drummer Hoff, written by wife Barbara Emberley.
It was Ed Emberley‘s birthday yesterday, so I think it’s time for a little celebration of my favorite step-by-step drawing master! Emberley is famous for his simple shape-drawing method, and I myself used to spend hours and hours copying every bit of his video, Squiggles Dots and Lines. His techniques are elementary, but now I have a whole new appreciation for his fascinatingly clear design sense. Plus, how much fun is it to make those little thumb-print people?
Thinking about ol’ Ed made me doodle some of my own characters in “Emberley” form:
And then doodle some more… (that’s my brain melting from the training session I was in, by the way. Oops!)
A portion of the sales of these prints will go to Heifer International, providing reliable sources of food to women and families in developing nations, and to the Central Asia Institute, which provides books and literacy and educational opportunities to girls and women in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
I grew up with Ed Emberley’s how-to-draw books, and it’s clear I’m not the only one. Joe Kuth has put together Emberley Galaxy, a book of tribute comics by 19 artists. Follow his blog’s Ed Emberley tag to see some samples. It’s a brilliant idea, and I’m already inspired to draw my own Emberley comic.