Literature and Art: Eric Carle Inspired Art for Kids

Mon, 06/27/2011 - 10:15pm -- Jessica Baudin-...

We love Eric Carle books in our house! The ones we don't own ourselves are often top picks whenever we visit the library. I fell in love with Eric Carle's illustrations while taking an Art for Children course in University. We watched an amazing documentary on how Eric Carle creates his beautiful artwork. It is a fairly lengthy process as he uses so many mixed mediums but the results are well worth it. 

Mixing mediums is a process I wanted to explore at my Art-Tastic Tots camp this summer so the girls and I decided to tackle an Eric Carle inspired piece today. We mixed watercolor painting and tissue paper to create our pieces based on the book Mister Seahorse.  Malia and I have been reading books and doing puzzles about animal moms and babies so we decided to fit this theme into our project today. 

What You Need:

  • Watercolor paper (we used Eric Carle's brand paper bought at DeSerres)
  • Pencil 
  • Stencil (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Watercolor paints and brushes
  • Tissue paper
  • Glue
  • Googly eyes

The first step is to free draw or trace a stencil of the creatures you want to create. Bria wanted seahorses and Malia wanted turtles. I free hand drew mine on watercolor paper and them out, but if drawing isn't your strength use a stencil. 

Next, I let the girls pick 4 colors they wanted to use to paint their creatures. Bria did fine with this many, Malia's final product ended up looking a bit like "preschool grey" but since my focus is always the process I didn't worry too much about it. It was a great learning experience for both the girls as watercolors are very different to use then the typical tempera I put out. Bria very much enjoyed blending colors. 

After they had finished painting their moms and babies we set them aside. Next we picked 3 colors of tissue paper to create seaweed and sand. You could pre-cut these if you wanted very specific shapes but the girls and I decided just to tear the tissue. I like the look we achieved. Then we glue these onto another full sheet of watercolor paper. I must admit I don't have many pictures from the next step as Malia needed a lot of help with tearing.

Once the tissue paper was glued onto the paper, we picked 3 different shades of blue to paint over the whole sheet to create our ocean. With Malia I just encouraged her to cover as much of the paper as possible. "Messy Mimi" very much enjoyed this part of the process, mixing and smearing the paint and water over and over again.

With Bria we discussed how Eric Carle had used different brush strokes to create the feeling off water. Bria very much enjoyed creating waves as she saw in the pictures but also decided to add bubbles, which I thought was very creative of her.  

Once both the creatures and seascape had dried we glued googly eyes onto our moms and babies and then positioned and glued them onto the background. The girls were thrilled with the final product! I generally don't put a lot of stock in whether or not the final product looks great because I want them to enjoy the process but I must admit I love these too!  So much I made one of my own while the girls watched the Berestain Bears. Purely to use as an example at camp ;)