Search form

The Eric Carle Museum
of Picture Book Art
  • 125 West Bay Road
  • Amherst, MA 01002


  • Thursday, Friday10 am-3 pm
  • Saturday 10am – 4 pm
  • Sunday 12 pm - 4 pm

Closed Monday,Tuesday, Wednesday

Accessibility Information

Visit the carle


Making Art Together

Sunset to Sunrise: Watercolors of the Night Sky

It is springtime in the Art Studio and recently we found ourselves thinking about the changing sunrise and sunset times around the vernal, or the northern hemisphere spring, equinox. Inspired by The Art of Eric Carle: Night exhibition, we wanted to explore images of night as well as all those transition times of day: sunset, sunrise, dusk, dawn, and twilight. We selected materials that we thought would give guests a chance to create atmospheric scenes as well as explore new ways to layer materials. Guests worked with watercolors, tempera cakes, beeswax crayons, and oil pastels, and together we were excited to discover the many ways that these materials can be combined.

To ensure guests could layer these materials in a variety of ways, it was very important that we provided a good quality, strong paper that could both absorb a generous application of water based paint as well as support energetic drawing.  We chose a 90lb student grade watercolor paper chopped into long sheets to give plenty of space for all the scenes, stories, shapes and colors to develop.

Guests applied paint to the paper with different sized brushes and using an endless variety of movements: paints were sweeping, hopping and looping across the page.

Guests also experimented with watercolor resist techniques, drawing with crayon or pastel and then applying paint on top, noticing how the lines and shapes stayed visible as the areas around them changed color with the paint.

We discovered that oil pastels layer well, and if two layers are added, then the top layer can be scratched away to reveal the colors underneath. This proved to be a very interesting technique, and we will definitely return to this idea in a future project.

Our display wall started with the labels: sunset, night, sunrise and we invited guests to add their paintings and drawings wherever they liked. As the wall filled, we started to see the colors of dawn and dusk grouped at either end of the wall with the deeper, darker colors of nighttime concentrated in the middle of the wall.

Under the ‘sunset’ and ‘sunrise’ labels we kept track of the changing sunset and sunrise times for each day and noticed the dramatic shifts in daylight as spring progressed. It seemed fitting that as we became more attuned to the cyclical changes of light over time, we said goodbye to The Art of Eric Carle: Night, and hello to our next exhibition The Art of Eric Carle: Seasons. We look forward to exploring more about light, seasons and the world around us in future Art Studio projects. 



We enjoy exploring materials and ideas in the Art Studio, and we’re excited to share our process with you! Please consider the following factors when adapting these posts for your learning environment: 

We facilitate a variety of programs within the Art Studio for a wide range of age groups. Please carefully consider the age appropriateness of each individual activity in your own learning environment.

Our projects are always done with adult supervision and proper safety precautions. Be sure all of your projects are overseen by adults who likewise follow proper safety precautions. The adults overseeing your project must also be responsible for handling or assisting with any potentially harmful equipment or materials. 

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is not responsible for any damages, injuries or liabilities that result from any activities contained within this website, and we expressly disclaim any responsibility or liability therefor. From time to time, we reference materials that we have found to be particularly important in our projects. We do not receive any monetary compensation for recommending materials. 


by Meg Nicoll

This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 16th, 2018 at 9:00 am and is filed under By Meg Nicoll, Drawing, Light, Mixed Media, Nature, Painting. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Add a New Comment

Leave a reply

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
To Top