Petra Mathers

Petra Mathers (b. 1945) is a self-taught artist who uses simple shapes to create her own distinctive folk-art style. German born, she moved to the U.S. as a young adult and settled in Oregon, where she still lives. Mathers has illustrated more than 40 children’s books, including her popular series about Lottie, an amiable chicken. Her animal characters demonstrate both compassion and humor, their foibles and friendships serving as metaphors for human bonds.

The Museum’s collection includes over 500 original works by Mathers, all generously donated by the artist. In 2019, Mathers returned to The Carle to hand letter text from her books on all her illustrations, which is her preference. The Carle has honored Mathers with two exhibitions, Petra Mathers: Lottie’s New Beach Towel (2004) and Petra Mathers: Lottie’s New Friend (2009). 

Illustration of chicken throwing red beach towel.
Petra Mathers, Illustration for Lottie’s New Beach Towel (Aladdin). Gift of the Artist. © 1998 Petra Mathers.
Lottie’s New Beach Towel is the first book in Mather’s popular series about Lottie, an amiable chicken from Oregon, and her many feathered friends.  Discover the many uses that Lottie and her friend Herbie, a delightful duck, find for a red spotted beach towel. 
Illustration of chicken at beach.

Petra Mathers, Illustration for Lottie’s New Beach Towel (Aladdin). Gift of the Artist. © 1998 Petra Mathers.

Illustration of chicken at beach.

Petra Mathers, Illustration for Lottie’s New Beach Towel (Aladdin). Gift of the Artist. © 1998 Petra Mathers.

Illustration of chickens on boat with pink bird.

When Lottie makes friends with the elegant Dodo, her new neighbor from Germany, her old buddy Herbie grows jealous. It is a feeling familiar to children everywhere. Mather’s illustration anticipates the stability of friendship as Herbie and Lottie visually balance each other in the boat as they make room for one more. 

Petra Mathers, Illustration for Lottie’s New Friend (Aladdin). Gift of the Artist. © 1999 Petra Mathers.
Illustration of chicken looking in mail box and in another frame lying on sofa chair.

Petra Mathers, Illustration for Lottie’s New Friend (Aladdin). Gift of the Artist. © 1999 Petra Mathers.

Illustration of chicken with pink bird hugging and pink bird in bathtub.

Petra Mathers, Illustration for Lottie’s New Friend (Aladdin). Gift of the Artist. © 1999 Petra Mathers.

Illustration of duck on stage with pink cake.

Petra Mathers, Illustration for A Cake for Herbie (Aladdin). Gift of the Artist. © 2000 Petra Mathers.

Illustration of animals in kitchen.

Petra Mathers, Illustration for A Cake for Herbie (Aladdin). Gift of the Artist. © 2000 Petra Mathers.

Illustration of duck speeding on blue car in country landscape.

Petra Mathers, Illustration for Dodo Gets Married (Aladdin). Gift of the Artist. © 2001 Petra Mathers.

Illustration of animals with balloons at party in backyard.

Petra Mathers, Illustration for Dodo Gets Married (Aladdin). Gift of the Artist. © 2001 Petra Mathers.

Illustration of crowded street.

Petra Mathers, Illustration for Herbie’s Secret Santa (Aladdin). Gift of the Artist. © 2002 Petra Mathers.

Illustration of two girls hugging and walking through busy village.

Petra Mathers, Illustration for The Miraculous Tale of the Two Maries by Rosemary Wells (Viking). Gift of the Artist. © 2006 Petra Mathers.

With bright colors and unique perspectives, Mathers envisions the rural town of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer in southern France. She illustrates the life and legacy of two French teenagers—Marie and Marie—who enact good deeds as spirits after their untimely deaths. It is a tragic yet heartwarming tale rooted in faith and local legend. 
Illustration of two girls in canoe rowing through clouds.

Petra Mathers, Illustration for The Miraculous Tale of the Two Maries by Rosemary Wells (Viking). Gift of the Artist. © 2006 Petra Mathers.

Illustration of cat playing fiddle and cow jumping over the moon.

Petra Mathers, Illustration for The McElderry Book of Mother Goose. Gift of the Artist. © 2012 Petra Mathers.

The 18th-century nonsensical nursery rhyme “Hey Diddle Diddle” is arguably one of the most famous. Mathers paints her interpretation in gentle watercolors.  

Hey diddle diddle,  
The cat and the fiddle, 
The cow jumped over the moon; 
The little dog laughed 
To see such sport,  
And the dish ran away with the spoon. 

Illustration of child in boat with shark jumping out of water.

Petra Mathers, Illustration for The McElderry Book of Mother Goose. Gift of the Artist. © 2012 Petra Mathers.

Illustration of children playing on snowy hillside.

Petra Mathers, Illustration for The McElderry Book of Mother Goose. Gift of the Artist. © 2012 Petra Mathers.

Illustration of group of animals together in landscape.

Petra Mathers, Illustration for The McElderry Book of Mother Goose. Gift of the Artist. © 2012 Petra Mathers.

Illustration of chicken looking out window and parking lot.

Petra Mathers, Illustration for When Aunt Mattie Got Her Wings (Beach Lane Books). Gift of the Artist. © 2014 Petra Mathers.

Illustration of chicken looking in alligator's mouth with flashlight.

Petra Mathers, Illustration for When Aunt Mattie Got Her Wings (Beach Lane Books). Gift of the Artist. © 2014 Petra Mathers.

Illustration of rural hillside next to ocean.

Petra Mathers, Illustration for When Aunt Mattie Got Her Wings (Beach Lane Books). Gift of the Artist. © 2014 Petra Mathers.