The Visual Arts Resource that Didn’t Exist, and that Still Doesn’t 

Ed Emberley

My mother likes to tell me that I learned to draw before I learned to talk.  I drew voraciously as a child, and some of my favorite drawing books were by the children’s book author and illustrator Ed Emberley. His drawings are so quirky, playful, and incredibly expressive.  The instructions in his books are delightfully simple and easy to follow. There are so many god awful instructional drawing books out there for kids, and Ed Emberley’s books are unique, timeless classics that still resonate with me today as a professional artist.  I’ve been reliving moments from my childhood with his drawings with my own kids, who draw daily from his books. There’s something very special about seeing an image you haven’t seen in 30 years, but upon seeing it, feeling as though you drew it yesterday.


On the back page of Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Animals, is the above image. I found Emberley’s statement so remarkably poignant and moving.  So often I see long, pretentious explanations for why artists do what they do. Emberley’s statement is right to the point, and so incredibly honest and genuine.

I kept thinking about Emberley’s statement over the past few days.  His words relate to the motivation for my forthcoming project, which is going to be announced in a few weeks. Essentially, my project is for me, what Ed Emberley’s books were for him.   I desperately craved a rigorous, comprehensive visual arts resource in high school, but nothing like that existed.  Twenty years later, there is still nothing out there that measures up to what I wanted as a teenager.  Now I’m taking action to change that. Don’t miss the big release, subscribe to my email list today!

On the set of ART PROF at WGBH Studios in Boston, MA

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ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

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Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.

Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.

ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.


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