Monday, May 12, 2014

A Childhood Inspiration who Still Inspires!

Throughout my adult life, I have kept coming back to those things that held a deep fondness or interest for me when I was a kid.  From my second grade stamp collection to my burgeoning collection of old labels when I was 14, to my desire to own any and all manner of tiny "printing press" toys - I am of the firm belief that what you loved when you were young is what you come back to as your passion in adulthood.

Speaking of childhood inspirations - growing up, Ed Emberley was one of my favorite authors!  I pored over his "Make a World" - the simple shapes and tininess of the drawings allowed me to draw small worlds. Since I first checked it out of the Ashwaubenon library in 1977, I've owned several copies.  I STILL own a copy, as a matter of fact, and thumb through it often (about those thumbs - remember "The Great Thumbprint Drawing Book"?).

I didn't realize until recently that Mr. Emberley was the also the illustrator (and his wife the adapter) of Drummer Hoff, a book that has left an indelible print on my heart (and for which Ed and Barbara Emberley won a Caldecott medal in 1968).  I read this book, ad nauseam,  as a very small girl.  I remember being somewhat terrified of the psychedelic colors and designs of the beautiful woodcuts, and yet I couldn't stop looking.  There was something magical about those illustrations!

Then, in January of 2013, as I was just discovering the magical world of relief printmaking and woodcuts in general, I found this glorious book:

I was at the Milwaukee Public Library's book sale, and felt like I was committing a crime - I got this book for one American dollar.  I was smitten with the cover immediately, but then I looked inside and found pages like this:

The Story of Paul Bunyan, by Barbara Emberley and woodcut illustrations by Ed Emberley, 1963.

Those TREES!  They're just so....woodcutty!  So simple, yet so gorgeous.  The whole book is chock full of incredible woodcut illustrations.  My copy is one from the fourth printing, in 1966 (the book initially went to press in 1963).  Every illustration almost feels like it was printed directly on the page - it is somewhat embossed!  And if you notice, there is some bleed-through from the proceeding page!  I don't know how this happened - maybe it's just the fact that it's a 48 year-old book, but it just feels so real.  This book inspired me to start carving my own designs - once again, Ed Emberley gave me the courage to create, just like he had 36 years prior.  :)  

So imagine my utter delight when I got this notification in my e-mail yesterday:

Are you KIDDING ME?!?!?  Ed Emberley, following ME?!?!?  This news made my whole week, month and year!  :D  

To all of my fellow printmakers and other artist friends - do yourselves a favor and discover (or rediscover) Mr. Emberley's work!  You won't be disappointed.  :D  And thanks for following me, Ed!  :D


  1. This might be one of the best blog entries I've ever read! Well done for being noticed by your inspiration! Amazing stuff :)

    1. WOW!! Thanks so much! I'm so glad you like it! And yeah - I was pretty blown away by that Twitter notification! It was such a delightful surprise! :D

  2. It just made me feel very happy for you! :) keep up the good work (and blog!). By the way, is it possible to get an RSS feed of your blog?

    1. Thanks again! :D I'm trying to figure out the RSS feed for you. :D