Of Pencils and Crayons

A drawing is simply a line going for a walk. – Paul Klee



Hindsight has brought me to the happy realization that there are so many books and authors that have shaped my thinking and living as a father, but there are only a handful that I can honestly say I remember with great detail from childhood all the way into fatherhood.  These are simply books that have always been a part of my life, from my earliest memories to this very week.  The “how-to-draw” books of Ed Emberley are in that handful.

I wouldn’t be surprised, especially if you grew up in the 1970’s and 1980’s, if you remember his name, too.  Scholastic didn’t have book fairs in school back then (the first was officially held in California in 1981), but I was like a kid in a candy store when I saw the teacher break out her stack of book order forms and start passing them out among the class.


I wanted nearly everything in those flyers, but if there was an Ed Emberley book listed…that is all I wanted.  I have most of his 13 books about children’s-style drawing, while his children’s books continue to inspire our daughters.  His newest, The Crocodile and the Scorpion, was created with his daughter, Rebecca, also an accomplished children’s writer and illustrator.


I was drawn to the Emberley books because I am not a natural artist.  Since I can’t really see something and then draw it in a way that makes much sense to anyone else, as a boy I was often left with drawing stick figures or tracing coloring book pages!  But after I received my first book by this great artist, that changed.  This is the kind of art I wanted to draw.  It is all about using shapes and lines and dashes and colors in a very simple step-by- step process to create fantastic stuff like dragons, spiders, boats, funny faces, bridges, buildings and on and on.  I was able to draw castles and plot out stories through these drawings and I loved every minute of it.  It finally allowed me to give some form to my thoughts.

Now that I am a father (especially when my daughters were younger), the kids often ask me to draw and color with them.  As soon as I introduced some of these books to them and we began creating these funny worlds together, they were hooked.  It also gave them the great feeling that they could indeed draw and that they are indeed artists. Books that do that are books worth having.

If you haven’t visited his website yet (www.edemberley.com), please do.  You will love it and your children will love it and, more importantly, when you show them how to draw some of the things that this gifted children’s artist teaches, you will be the rock star of the house!