Posts Tagged ‘Eric Carle’

Collage Birds Inspired by Picture Books

Friday, September 6th, 2013

As promised, here is a deep look into one of the projects we did with our Animals, Art and The Imagination Students, aged 6-10, 0n the final day of our program two weeks ago:

The project happened in a few phases throughout the day.  In the  morning, I set up a series of stamping stations with our homemade stamp pads, similar to the way we set up when we do our Eric Carle program offsite, and let the students make as many visually textured papers (using tracing paper, construction paper and Folia Transparent Paper) as they wished within a 40 minute period.

When we were stamped out, we gathered in a circle on the floor around a handful of picture books to look at how different artists’  illustrate birds. They noticed that some artists work realistically, depicting the birds and their details closely to how we would see them in nature, and some artists work more abstractly, using a collection of simple shapes to illustrate theirs.

We looked carefully a doodle of the Pigeon, which happened to be drawn by Mo Willems himself in larger-than-life fashion on our back wall.  When we compared Pigeon with birds by Charley Harper and Eric Carle, the students noticed that there were a few basic geometric shapes the artists used in common: drop/tear/seed, circles, and triangles. We used magnetic versions of those shapes on a small magnet board  to collectively construct a bird of our own as I told them that later, they would be making their own birds out of paper.

After a storytime in the Reading Library featuring books with birds, an Elephant and Piggie story, and Windblown by Edouard Manceau, I gave each student a rectangle of scrap watercolor paper (approx. 6″x10″)  and proposed that we make our own collage birds. Those who were less excited about the idea were glad to hear that after making a bird, they would be welcome to make a different flying creature after.

drop shape and triangles

I explained that we would be cutting our birds’ parts out of the white paper first and then adding our stamped paper to our shapes once we were happy with them.  I suggested starting with the largest part of the bird. While asking them to remember what shape Mo Willems, Eric Carle, and Charley Harper often used for the body of the bird, I  cut a rough tear drop from my own piece of paper, starting with the point on one of the short sides. Whenever possible I try not to “demonstrate” how to do something because it could lead the the students to wanting theirs to look like mine, or feelings of not getting theirs “right.”  I let them know if they want to make their drop rounder, or wider or narrower, they choice was theirs.  As it turns out, everyone’s drop shape was unique. As an educator, I see a part of my job as helping my students see their peers as resources and teachers. So in the future I’ll probably ask if someone in the group wants to show the others how they would make a drop shape.

When everyone had cut their bird’s body shape, I had them hold up their negative shape (the paper leftover from their drop shape) to see if there were other shapes within it they could identify. They found that 2 triangle-ish shapes were left down by the point-end. As I showed them how I cut triangles off my negative shape I asked “what parts of my bird should use these for?” From responses that included “wings”, “a tail”, and “a beak” I knew they could take it from there. It was exciting to hear them share the possibilities they found within those shapes.

Once nearly everyone had their shapes cut out, we talked about how to integrate their stamped collage papers into their birds. We could have gone directly to cutting shapes out of their collage paper, but my thinking was that cutting from the white paper would help them focus on they shapes they were making without the distraction of color and visual texture. Additionally, my plan was to invite the students to make a mobile with their birds. It would be necessary to make the birds sturdier than just the papers we stamped.  So, using one of my white shapes and a gluestick, I showed them how to glue it to the back of a stamped paper and then cut it out again. The parts of the birds were glued to each other rather than a background piece of paper.   Everyone finished at least one bird. A few who had extra time started making bats.

Next time I do this, I might having them stamp directly to heavier weight paper to save the extra gluing and cutting step. I liked how “drawing with scissors” (as opposed to drawing the shapes on the papers with pencil first) helped keep the shapes loose and large. Sometimes, when given a pencil,  or “precious” materials such as their stamped papers, kids have a tendency to work really small.

Later, at the farm, we attached our birds to sticks we collected on the walk with craft string and white file-label dots. This is the part of the process I have no photos of. You can’t always be in the moment and document it! The shot I would have loved for you to see is of the students running around the farm’s back lawn, birds flying. You will have settle for this photo of my own stationary bird hung in The Studio after the fact.

A few repairs had to be made. Gluesticks and dot stickers were not the best adhesives for paper birds flown with the energy of a child on their last day of camp of the whole summer.  On a breezy day,  birds must fly! Lesson learned. : -)

Tom Peyton Memorial Arts Festival

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

First United Methodist Church, host of the Tom Peyton Memorial Arts Festival

Last weekend, I ventured with fellow art educator, Sarah to sunny Louisiana, where spring is in full bloom!  The 47th Annual Tom Peyton Memorial Arts Festival at The First United Methodist Church in Alexandria, invited The Carle to lead a series of art workshops as part of their Children’s Day celebration.  It was our first trip to the central part of the state, and our hosts showed us what true southern hospitality is all about!

Tom Peyton Memorial Arts Festival

The weekend of art events kicked off on Friday night with the opening receptions for the adult and student juried art exhibitions at the church.  The event was very well attended and the show exhibited an array of 2D and 3D art pieces, all created by local artists and students.  Each year, with money from the Tom Peyton Memorial Fund, the church purchases one piece from the adult juried exhibition to display as part of the church’s permanent collection, and they’ve collected quite a beautiful gallery of work over the years.

Tom Peyton Memorial Arts Festival

The following day, Saturday, was Children’s Day and Sarah and I taught 6 workshops for children ages 4-13  in side-by-side rooms at the church’s school.  Thanks to the Tom Peyton Memorial Arts Fund, the art programs were free to the public and open to any children in the Alexandria community.

Throughout the day, Eric Carle’s newest DVD, Eric Carle, Picture Writer: The Art of the Picture Book played in the church’s auditorium, a great resource about Eric’s artistic process and his deep connection to art making throughout his life.  You can purchase the DVD from The Carle’s Bookshop.

Tom Peyton Memorial Arts FestivalTom Peyton Memorial Arts Festival










Here are some fun shots from Sarah’s busy morning “I Am an Artist” sessions, for ages 4-7.

at The Tom Peyton Memorial Arts Festival/ The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art/ Studio Blog

Talking about Eric Carle’s artistic process of painting tissue papers and cutting them into collages.

at The Tom Peyton Memorial Arts Festival/ The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art/ Studio Blog

Stamping some colorful art papers of their own.

Making Collages at The Tom Peyton Memorial Arts Festival/ The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art/ Studio Blog

at The Tom Peyton Memorial Arts Festival/ The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art/ Studio Blog

Cutting the papers into beautiful collages.

Below are some photos from the “Bookmaking Basics” workshops for children ages 6-8 later in the day.

at The Tom Peyton Memorial Arts Festival/ The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art/ Studio Blog

Cutting unique shapes for their rainbow books.

at The Tom Peyton Memorial Arts Festival/ The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art/ Studio Blog

at The Tom Peyton Memorial Arts Festival/ The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art/ Studio Blog

Adding details to the popup accordion books.

Sarah and I ate lunch with our new friends by the church’s beautiful courtyard and fountain.  I could not stop gushing over the perfect weather we had during our quick weekend trip south.  It’s hard to believe, but it snowed in Amherst on the same day we were basking in the Louisiana sunshine!

at The Tom Peyton Memorial Arts Festival/ The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art/ Studio Blog

After lunch, I taught two “Possibilities in Print” workshops for children ages 9-13.  There were a couple extra spots in the last workshop of the day so some of the festival organizers joined in on the fun too.

at The Tom Peyton Memorial Arts Festival/ The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art/ Studio Blog

Two participants showing off their finished monotype prints.

at The Tom Peyton Memorial Arts Festival/ The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art/ Studio Blog

Making marks in the paint creates interesting details.

at The Tom Peyton Memorial Arts Festival/ The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art/ Studio Blog

The table of beautiful finished prints.

at The Tom Peyton Memorial Arts Festival/ The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art/ Studio Blog

This creative mom’s message “Laugh, Live, Love” is apropos for this fabulous day of art making with the community.

Thank you especially to Aubrey Flynn who took such good care of us! Here I am with Aubrey and Sarah, celebrating the success of Children’s Day.

at The Tom Peyton Memorial Arts Festival/ The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art/ Studio Blog

Also, a big thank you to everyone involved in organizing the Tom Peyton Memorial Arts Festival at The First United Methodist Church in Alexandria, and all of the children, parents and grandparents who participated in Children’s Day.  Sarah and I feel so fortunate to be a part of your celebration this year!

To find out more about the annual Tom Peyton Memorial Arts Festival click here.

For more information about bringing The Carle to your next event email us at

Thinking About Joy

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Dear Friends,

Diana and I find great joy in the work we do with children, so we are among those for whom words are difficult this week. To that end, here is a message our Executive Director, Alix Kennedy shared on our Facebook page on Monday:

“As everyone on staff here heads into a new week, approaching each task in our day with such heavy hearts, we are reminded anew of how honored we are to do this work. Every day here we bear witness to the boundless love parents and teachers feel for their children — and every day those children give back to all of us with their joyfulness and kindness.

Today, and always, our love goes out to the parents, teachers, and children of Newtown.”

This week, may you continue to share the joys of the season with the children in your life, and as Eric Carle shared in his post on Tuesday:

“May there be peace for children everywhere. May there be peace for all.”

With Love,

Meghan  & Diana


New Professional Development Workshop – Beyond Books: Art Inspired by Eric Carle

Friday, December 14th, 2012

Four Easy Pieces © 2011 by Eric Carle

Four Easy Pieces © 2011 by Eric Carle

Hello educators! I’m really eager to tell you about a new Professional Development workshop I’m developing as a companion to the Museum’s exciting exhibition: Beyond Books: The Independent Art of Eric Carle.* The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Eric Carle is primarily known for The Very Hungry Caterpillar and over 70 picture books done in his colorful collage technique.

This exhibition, dedicated to what Eric himself calls his “ArtArt:” paintings, sculptures, and personal sketches that he has been making privately for more than 60 years, offers a view into another side of Eric’s life and work.


Porcupine Metal Sculpture by Eric Carle

© 2000 by Eric Carle

Having heard from Eric about the motivation and process behind his “ArtArt,” I began to think more and more about the relationship between work and play and where the two merge with children and materials. This relationship is one we try to cultivate through much of what we do here, so this exhibition provides a great opportunity to share our ideas and experiences!

© 2011 by Motoko Inoue

In the workshop on January 26th 2013, we’ll get our hands messy painting a variety of surfaces such as paper, vinyl, and cardboard. Then we’ll view the exhibition and a video of Eric reflecting on his independent art together. After, we’ll sculpt our painted surfaces into window hangings, mobiles, and more as we discuss Eric’s inspirations as an artist. Participants will leave with ideas for the classroom and an understanding of how his creative process might inspire students to think “off the page.”

Educators will receive 4 PDPs, but you don’t have to be an educator to participate. All participants receive a 10% discount in our Shop on the day of the program.

Professional Development Workshop at The Art Studio at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

Here is the essential info again:

Beyond Books: Art Inspired by Eric Carle (4 PDPs)
January 26, 2013. 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
$50 (Members $45) Registration is required. Please click here for more information.

I hope you can join us! If not, check out our other upcoming professional development offerings here or learn how this or other programs can come to you, here.

Learn more about Beyond Books: The Independent Art of Eric Carle, in the West Gallery through February 24, 3013, here. Support for this exhibition has been generously provided by Peter and Helen Bing.

Fun Facts

Monday, August 6th, 2012

We’re busy making Tissue Paper Collages in the Art Studio again! This is probably the most popular project we do all year.  Below are a couple fun facts about the materials we use during a typical Summer Public Art Project.

·       Museum guests create over 3,000 tissue paper collages in the Art Studio during the 6-week program.

·       We go through nearly 9 gallons of liquid starch glue for making collages (the average collage requires less than 1-ounce to stick together!).

·       If we lined all of the collages up side by side, they would stretch for 2/3 of a mile!

For more information about making a tissue paper collage at home or in the classroom, visit our Activities web page and click on “Tissue Paper Collage,”  “Watercolor Tissue Papers” or “Homemade Liquid Starch Glue.

Here are a few of our blog posts about tissue paper collaging:

Intergenerational Collage Activity

Watercolor Paper 101

Watercolor Wash Collage Papers

This project ends on August 13th, so be sure to stop by before then to make your own!

Signing Day

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

I wanted to share some great photos from Eric Carle’s signing at The Museum last Saturday!

Hundreds of people came out to meet Eric and get their books signed.

Laurie, Meghan and Aiyi helped guests make art in the Art Studio.

Thanks to everyone who came out to visit us!

Photo credits: Cindy Utama

Hitting the road for National Children’s Book Week!

Friday, May 4th, 2012

We’re in the thick of preparations for a busy month of programming on the road.  Next week we’re excited to celebrate National Children’s Book week at three different sites.  Thursday I’ll be at Cary Memorial Library in Lexington, MA.

art studio to go

My first program there, Art Studio-to-Go, is for ages  3-5 with a caregiver.  I’ll be sharing a picture book and helping young artists make shape collages.

stamping papers

I Am an Artist, for ages 5-8, is all about Eric Carle’s techniques and process.

cutting paper

monotype prints

My final program at Cary, Possibilities in Print for ages 9-12, delves into how picture books are produced and offers a change to make multiple color prints of one’s own.

If you’re interested in learning more about these programs and what else is on slate for children at Cary Memorial Library, click here.

Also next week, Sarah visits kindergarteners in Enfield, CT, and Diana will be at Ashland Public Library.   Click here to learn more about our outreach programs for students and check back later when we post about how everything goes this month!


Happy Very Hungry Caterpillar Day!

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Today, March 20th, is very special to us here at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, and that’s because it’s the day each year that we celebrate Very Hungry Caterpillar Day in honor of one of Eric Carle’s most beloved picture book characters.  This past Sunday, we pulled out all the stops for our fuzzy green friend and invited everyone to join us for art making, cookie eating, story listening, and the chance to win some fun prizes!

In the Studio, we challenged visitors to create their own version of The Caterpillar using an assortment of found materials.  Here are just a few examples of what kids and adults glued together!

I love the variety of ways visitors used the mix of bottle caps, ribbons, paper, foam, corks and odds & ends.  If you missed the party on Sunday, make your own Caterpillars with any found materials and email me a photo of the finished sculpture!  Send photos to, subject “Found Materials Caterpillars.”

In case you don’t own your own copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, you can check out this link to Eric Carle reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar on the Penguin Young Readers YouTube channel.   Happy VHC Day!

Rainbow Window Shades – Easy Way to Display Art

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012


Hello! This post has moved to our new blog URL here.


The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art has a new website!


Please update your bookmarks to  Making Art with Children’s new URL and follow our Pinterest board .


Thanks for following us!


The Art Studio at The Eric Carle Museum

Our studio space is blessed with an entire wall of windows on our South side. That means, in the months of short days, the sun’s glorious rays stream right in…to our eyes.  That kind of direct light is great for feeling like a cat- relaxed and drowsy, but sometimes tricky for working.

The Art Studio at The Eric Carle Museum

As you can see, we’ve turned the slight architectural inconvenience into opportunity! Every November we break out the tension curtain rods and dream up aesthetically pleasing ways to shade our worktables.  I’ve been a little obsessed with rainbows and the spectrum lately so with lots of help from our volunteer, Cindy, and more help from other volunteers we put this together.

In the Art Studio

The papers might remind you of Eric Carle’s pictures.  Most of them were made in one of my Eric Carle Tissue Paper Workshops. The workshop goes over the nitty gritty of adapting  Eric Carle’s processes and techniques to create unique collage papers with students or just yourself.  Learn more about my workshop here.

The Art Studio at The Eric Carle Museum

You could make similar papers yourself or with kids using with paint, tools like our Silly Brushes, and tracing paper.  We put the papers in plastic document sleeves and then used a 3-hole-puncher to make holes for the 1″ binder rings that connect the sleeves together.   We’ve used this display method before and have noticed teachers and parents taking pictures and talking about how they would use the idea in their class or at home.

Is this idea inspiring to you? Tell us about how you might or have used tension rods, document sleeves, and binder rings in your home or classroom.


Intergenerational Collage Activity

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Dear Art Studio,

For almost fifteen years, my teachers and I have been inspired by Eric Carle artwork and stories.  We have read, acted out, and dreamed as characters in every story.  We have also created our own Eric Carle inspired art projects.  In fact, several years ago in a training, our teachers created their very own “Carle-esque” storybook.  This project not only celebrated their teaching talents, but the storybook became a fundraising resource in our school’s expansion.

Our school now has the opportunity to share the world of Eric Carle with the senior center with whom we have developed an intergenerational program.  During February of this year, we hope to pair young preschoolers with senior citizens to collaborate on art pieces and a storybook demonstrating the various meanings of love.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas.

Sincerely,  Lisa D.

Thanks so much for writing to The Eric Carle Museum about your intergenerational project plans.  Eric Carle’s books are a wonderful starting point for a collaborative art project between young children and adults.

To help get your Eric Carle inspired project underway I have a few suggestions that we’ve adapted here at The Carle in our Art Studio when making tissue paper collages.  I’m not sure how many children and adults will be involved in your project, but our Tissue Paper Collage activity page will provide you with step by step instructions and suggestions for getting started.  Check out our recent post about Watercolor Wash Collage Papers.  We’ve also created a recipe to make liquid starch glue used to attach the tissue papers to the background paper available in a printable PDF on our website’s Activities page.    Or you can buy liquid laundry starch in your grocery store’s laundry aisle.

Perhaps one way the adults could contribute to the collaboration is having them prepare the tissue papers for the activity.  They could cut a variety of colored and patterned tissue papers into geometric and organic shapes and put them into baskets for the children to collage with.

Another great way to have the children and adults interact is having them read Eric Carle books together before the art activity and discuss Eric’s illustration process.

When your storybook is complete, we would love to see it!   Email your students’ Eric Carle inspired art to and we may post it on the blog.  Don’t forget to document the project with photographs and notes; we’d love to see all the work along the way!