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

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  • Tuesday- Friday10 am - 4 pm
  • Saturday 10am – 5pm
  • Sunday 12 pm - 5 pm

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Making Art Together

Watercolor-Painted Collage Papers

If you’re a parent or educator, hearing the name Eric Carle probably brings many colorful pictures mind. His iconic tissue paper collages are loved by many.

Are you drawn to his art? What do you like about his images? When I ask this to students and visiting educators here at The Carle, inevitably mentioned are the vivid colors, exciting visual textures, and simplified, or abstracted, shapes. The visual appeal and accessibility of his images make children and adults alike want to try creating their own Eric Carle-inspired art.

Eric creates his painted papers with acrylic paint and tissue paper. You can see slides of his process at his official website. Acrylic paint is not a material I typically use with young children for a variety of reasons, and it’s not a material widely available in most early-elementary classrooms.

Teachers tell us they attempt Eric Carle-inspired tissue paper-painting projects with their students using tempera paint, with mixed success. Occasionally it works. If the tissue paper is too thin, however, the paint bleeds and the tissue sticks to the work surface. In other instances, the tissue paper has been so thin it turned into mushy pulp. 

We’ve come up with a few alternative materials and processes so that children and adults can have a fun and successful experience creating their own visually textured collage papers.

Making Watercolor-Painted Collage Papers | Making Art With Children | The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

We’ve already shared how we use purchased and homemade stamps and stamp pads to create visually-textured collage papers, so here I want to share in detail how we make watercolor-painted texture rubbings for collage.

Making Watercolor-Painted Collage Papers | Making Art With Children | The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

This process starts with creating a texture rubbing on tracing paper using crayons. Our favorite rubbing plates are those we’ve made in the studio like these and these, Otherwise, you can purchase a set of washable plastic plates like these that we have in the Art Studio.

Making Watercolor-Painted Collage Papers | Making Art With Children | The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

Next, we paint with watercolors over the texture rubbing. It's a beautiful magic, when the crayon resists the paint. I like using liquid watercolors for this part of the process, but watercolors from pans or tubes work too. How much to dilute the colors is a matter of preference and experimentation.

Making Watercolor-Painted Collage Papers | Making Art With Children | The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

Making Watercolor-Painted Collage Papers | Making Art With Children | The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

Collage papers made in this way remind me of how Eric’s collages look in Mr. Seahorse.

Making Watercolor-Painted Collage Papers | Making Art With Children | The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

After a slew of papers are dry, they are ready to be cut or saved for just the right project.

When we make Eric Carle-inspired collages in our programs we like to let our students decide the subject matter of their picture rather than require they make one of “Eric Carle’s” animals. Borrowing a phrase by the artist Henri Matisse, we invite our students to “draw with scissors,” or tear their papers, and see where that leads them. Sometimes they make representational art, and sometimes not.

Making Watercolor-Painted Collage Papers | Making Art With Children | The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

Making Watercolor-Painted Collage Papers | Making Art With Children | The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

Making Watercolor-Painted Collage Papers | Making Art With Children | The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

What would you create with watercolor-painted collage papers?

Making Watercolor-Painted Collage Papers | Making Art With Children | The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

Be sure to visit the collage section of our blog more ideas and inspiration.

Happy Creating!

 

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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. 

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