The Woodcuts of Ed Emberley

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. 

All Drummer Hoff images via BisforBook

Above images from One Wide River to Cross, via me

All Yankee Doodle images via livingstonandporter

To go to Ed Emberley's website, click here
An interesting article about Ed Emberley and his career @ Juxtapoz Magazine


Woodcut Artist Antonio Frasconi

Antonio Frasconi became well known for his woodcuts after moving to the U.S. in 1945 to study at the Art Student's League in New York City. Frasconi has done a variety of work over the course of his career in advertising, magazine illustrations, posters, record covers, Christmas cards and books - the latter of which I will be showing, specifically some of the children's books that Frasconi has illustrated.

The House That Jack Built (1958) via Kline Bookseller

The House That Jack Built (1958)

From The House That Jack Built, via Kline Bookseller

From The House That Jack Built, via Kline Bookseller

From See and Say, (1955) via Iconoclassic

Frasconi wrote and illustrated See and Say: A Picture Book in Four Languages (1955) for his son Pablo to expose him to other languages. Multilingual books were a recurring theme for Frasconi who felt that children should be exposed to other languages.

From The Little Blind Goat, (1981) via TheVintageWordShop

Six Spanish Nursery Rhymes (1960) via Bibliopolis

Frasconi was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Italian parents who immigrated to South America during World War I. Soon after the family moved to Uruguay, where his parents ran a restaurant. Antonio was just 12 years old when he was apprenticed to a printer. As a teenager he published cartoons and drawings in satirical newspapers. In the early 1940's he started to experiment with woodcuts. After studying in the U.S. woodcuts and lithographs became his main media. By the early 1950's he was recognized as one of America's foremost woodcut artists. In 1951 Frasconi married artist Leona Pierce.

From At Christmastime, (1992) via Old Children's Books

From Overhead the Sun via Vintage Kids' Books My Kid Loves

From 12 Fables of Aesop, via Topittori

From 12 Fables of Aesop, via Topipittori

From 12 Fables of Aesop, via Topipittori

Kaleidoscope in Woodcuts, published in 1968, is an accordian fold book, when fully opened it is 130" long. Publisher Harcourt, Brace and World published this book to honor the selection of Antonio Frasconi by the Republic of Uruguay as it's artist at the 34th Biennale in Venice in 1968.

Though picture books compromise a small portion of Antonio Frasconi's career, the work he did in them is exceptional. I would encourage anyone who likes woodcuts to read about him and seek out more of his work.

In continuing the theme of woodcut illustrators, my next post will be about artist    Ed Emberley. 


Woodcut Artist Mary Azarian

To start off our week of woodcuts, I am showing the work of Vermont artist Mary Azarian, who has over 50 children's picture books to her credit, amongst other work. Azarian's work is beautiful and highly detailed, she is clearly a master at her craft. Azarian says that inspiration comes from her farm and gardens.

A Farmer's Alphabet

From The Four Seasons of Mary Azarian, image via Black and White

Mary Azarian was born in 1940 and grew up on her grandfather's farm just outside Washington D.C. Her interest in gardening developed at an early age and continues to this day. She went to Smith College and studied printmaking with Leonard Baskin, one of the great 20th century printmakers. It was then she began to work on wood and says her interest in the medium has never wavered.

A Gardener's Alphabet

From A Gardener's Alphabet, image via Black and White

Magazine Illustration

Ready For Canning, image via Vita Brevis

Image via examiner

After college Azarian moved to a small hill farm in northern Vermont with her husband Tom. They farmed horses and oxen, kept chickens, sheep and a jersey milk cow. They raised three sons who helped with the large gardens and a maple syrup operation. Those years on the farm became the inspiration for many of Azarian's prints.

The Tale of John Barleycorn, image via Bibliopolis

After teaching for three years in one of the last one room schools in Vermont, Azarian decided to try earning a living from selling her prints. She started working in black and white, printing each block by hand. After a while she started adding color by hand, painting each print. Later Azarian bought an old Vandercook proof press and began using that to produce her prints. In the 70's she started illustrating children's books and now has over 50 to her name. In 1999 she won a Caldecott for her illustrations in Snowflake Bentley.

Snowflake Bentley, image via Read Me A Story

From Snowflake Bentley, image via Children's Book-A-Day Almanac

The Four Seasons of Mary Azarian, image via Black and White

A Christmas Like Helen's, image via Hero's Welcome

From The Four Seasons of Mary Azarian, image via Black and White

Mina Minette

To view a previous post I did on The Man Who Lived Alone, illustrated by Mary Azarian, click here.

Mary Azarian

On her website Azarian states she has returned to the design of black and white woodcuts and is especially interested in working with simple shapes. To see more of Azarian's work, including her black and white gallery, you can view her website here. 

My next post will be about the woodcuts of Antonio Frasconi as they relate to children's picture books. 


Woodcut Illustrations in Children's Books

I love woodcut illustrations (and linocut and scratchboard...). This form of printmaking lends itself to illustration in children's books. My posts this week will focus on different woodcut artists who have done children's books.

Below is a sampling of different children's books with woodcut illustrations. Tomorrow I will show work by woodcut artist, Mary Azarian.