On Saturday, several Glen Cove children took part in a special animation class at the Glen Cove Library, taught by artist Ed Klein. It was an unusual opportunity, though one they might not appreciate until they’re older.
Klein’s animations have been featured in more than 300 films, television shows and commercials produced by the Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros. Studio and Hanna-Barbera Productions, to name just a few, and he has animated characters including Bugs Bunny, Fred Flintstone and Mickey Mouse.
Before delving into the lesson, Klein played a game with the students. He started to draw a character, and the first child to correctly guess who it was got to keep the drawing. He also quizzed the students with questions like, “How many buttons are on Mickey Mouse’s pants?” and “What town does Fred Flintstone live in?” He made sure every child received a drawing personalized with his or her name, and gave out sketched characters including Goofy and, in the spirit of the holidays, Frosty the Snowman and the Grinch.
Klein’s students then practiced drawing squares, circles and triangles. These basic shapes are the foundations of drawing the characters, he explained. Then, using those shapes, he led a step-by-step process of drawing several iconic characters. Even parents got involved in the lesson.
Klein also talked about personality lines. Unlike a straight line, a personality line has curves and turns, but never touches or crosses itself. It has “personality,” he said. He asked several children to come to the front of the class and draw their own versions of a personality line. Using each line as a guide, Klein drew a character. Regardless of how crazy the line was, the character came out perfectly shaped each time.
The children and their parents clearly enjoyed the class, and requested photos with Klein at the end.
The reason why he teaches these classes is simple: “I can take my experience and share it with young people,” he said.
Klein began his journey to animation after he saw “Pinocchio” when he was 12. He became fascinated with the art, and cited Walt Disney as an inspiration. “I was surrounded by a lot of teachers that encouraged me to draw,” he said. “That’s why my word to any young person is to just keep working at it.”
He studied animation at Pratt Institute, the New York Institute of Technology and LIU. He has been animating for 35 years, and has taught cartooning for 25 years. He designed toys, games and apparel for Warner Bros. when the company operated retail stores. Growing up in Mattituck and now living in Mastic Beach, he has worked with the art department of BOCES, and as a freelancer, he continues to draw and teach in schools and libraries across Long Island.