Eric Carle - Illustrator Study
The author for this month's Virtual Book Club for Kids is Eric Carle. I doubt he needs any introduction, but you can check out his website to learn more about his dozens of fabulous books. Our twins love Eric Carle books. Their favorite before we started this project was The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
It has been on our to visit list for a while to make a trip to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. I think it is beyond cool that a place exists to celebrate children's book illustrators and the masterpieces that are children's books. We haven't made it to Massachusetts yet, but this got me inspired to take a closer look at Eric Carle's illustrations. When we gathered Eric Carle books at the library, I also snagged these two books:
The Art of Eric Carle
A fascinating look at the evolution of Eric Carle's illustrations and early beginnings. It also goes in depth explaining the unique method he uses to create his illustrations.
Artist to Artist
I thought this book was incredible. It was a sort of pre-cursor to What's Your Favorite Animal. It has an astounding collection of letters from illustrators. If your child is a young artist, this is a goldmine. A range of illustrators and styles, with photos of them and sample art. Our three year olds are not quite ready for this book, but for older children it is an inspiring resource.
Together we read the following picture books that were new to our children:
This describes the unusual trait of seahorses that fathers are responsible for carrying the eggs until they are born. Together we learned from the book that several other species of underwater animal share this trait. My daughter particularly loved this book.
10 Rubber Ducks
This one fit the best with our recent interest in boats. The idea that a boat's job is to carry rubber ducks seemed to tickle my son's funny bone. It is a story (and counting book) about a box of rubber ducks that fall off a boat in the middle of sea and gradually drift off to different fates.
The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse
This one is aimed at the youngest audience of the ones we read. It has simple text and reminded me a bit of Brown Bear, Brown Bear. It is a book about a young artist who painted animals in non-traditional colors (a green lion, an orange elephant, etc), but is nonetheless a great artist. It was inspired by a painting of a blue horse that made an impression on Eric Carle and I loved the message about what an artist is and how they define "good art" for themselves.
After reading these books and studying the pictures of Eric Carle's technique, we dove into creating some Carle inspired art. I recommend getting The Art of Eric Carle to better explain the technique to you, but the gist is that he paints tissue paper and then cuts the tissue paper into whatever he needs when creating the illustrations. I had never even considered the idea of painting tissue paper, so I was eager to try it out.
Tape or lay tissue paper out for each artist.
Prepare cups or trays of paint in chosen colors.
Provide a variety of paintbrushes at each space.
Paint the tissue paper.
The book recommends painting a layer of one color. Letting it dry and then adding another color is desired. The first time we did this, we stuck to two colors each and skipped the drying in between to meet the needs of our young children. (Waiting is not something we do especially well.)
Once our tissue paper was painted (and remarkably barely torn) we let them dry overnight.
The next day, I let our three year olds attack them with scissors. Cutting things is a great interest of theirs at the moment, so this was a lengthy activity.
Once they were surrounded by a pile of painted tissue paper, I offered them some glue and some cardstock to create a picture with their tissue paper.
We proudly displayed our creations on our art wall.
Our toddlers very helpfully brought their remaining tissue paper bits to the garbage that I brought closer.
I wiped the glue from the table and then helped them wash their hands.
*We are not really to the cutting careful shapes stage yet, so this was a process oriented experience. With older children, they would likely feel inspired to attempt an illustration like Eric Carle. Perhaps invite them to write a story and then create a picture to illustrate it.
Do you have a favorite illustrator? Have you ever tried to imitate an artist's style?
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