Wednesday, June 9, 2010

being eric carle

Thing One's horse

Thing Two's Dog. Yes, dog.

My seven year old recently had a fun assignment (all credit to these folks): to practice doing research for a paragraph by choosing an artist she likes and gathering some information on them. She surprised me, I had my mouth open to suggest some pedestrian choices like Van Gogh or Picasso and she immediately said "I want to do Eric Carle!" I'm glad she cut me off.

My good friend Debbie was so kind years ago to give our babies lots of Eric Carle board books that they enjoyed so much. Actually, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See was instrumental in getting us through our youngest's ER visit when she was two years old and broke her elbow. The screaming finally ended when I grabbed a hospital copy and read it to her over and over. Thank you, Mr. Carle. Thank you. I'll be forever in your debt.

So we got online and did some research, went to his official site, read his FAQ, watched interviews with him on YouTube. He is now a delightful, soft-spoken 80 year old and we liked him so much. Thing One wrote her little paper, but we were so inspired by watching his photo tutorial that we (er...I) decided that we must make some images using the same method.


So, first to paint some 'tissue' paper in his signature bright, variegated colors. I had some white wrapping tissue, no problemo. Mistake. As soon as the brush touched it, it disintegrated. So, when he says tissue, I can safely say he does not mean wrapping tissue. Check. The next best thing I could think of was tracing paper, which has more body but is also translucent. That worked fine, although it wrinkled up a bit. I'd really like to know what kind of 'tissue' he means. For paint, we just used cheap acrylic paints I already had on hand.

(POST-POST NOTE: I wrote to Eric Carle's fan site, and receive a link to this information from Eric Carle: "I use archival quality tissue paper for my collage illustrations, but I receive e-mails and letters from many teachers who use a range of different kinds of commercially available tissue paper (the kind you use for gift wrapping), so feel free to experiment. I have tried many brands of tissue paper and have been pleased with a long-fibered, ph-neutral, white tissue paper from Kate’s Paperie in New York City. I prepare the paper with a matte medium before I paint the paper with ordinary acrylic paint which can be found in any art store." SO. He gets great quality tissue paper and pretreats it with matte medium. Check!)


To get the variegated look, I squirted several colors in the girls' plates and told them not to mix it, just dip in the brush and go. That was fun. After we did several colors we hung them up to dry.


They look like stained glass, don't they? Of course, Eric's method is more involved. He does several layers of paint, and uses things like squares of carpet to add texture. We sort of skipped that part. That's why they pay him the big bucks.



After those were dry, the next step is to make your sketch on tracing paper. So we each did that.


Next came Mommy's part. I laid their sketches down on top of the painted paper and cut each section out with an Xacto knife, making sure to go through both layers.



They were in charge of art direction. They chose the colors and helped paint on the Mod Podge when we laid each piece down on some bristol board. (Eric Carle uses wallpaper glue on illustration board, but this was close enough).


Well, Mommy had to make one too. Can't let them have all the fun. I was so pleased with our little art project. This was so much fun. In your debt again, Mr. Carle!

40 comments:

  1. What a great idea! I'm starting my homeschool summer school soon (part of my effort to keep my children from fighting over silly things) and can't wait to implement a similar activity. Thank you for sharing.

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  2. How fun! I wonder if he uses drafting vellum? It's kind of a thick artist tracing paper. It's used a lot for illustration. That might provide enough heft to keep away the wrinkles.

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  3. How cute! I think the wrinkles add a nice touch of texture.

    The girls did a great job... and Mommy's caterpillar was excellent! :)

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  4. You might want to look into waxed floral tissue paper. It is what florist shops use when wrapping bouquets and does not disintegrate upon contact with water. I am not sure how well it would absorb paint, though...

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  5. Aren't they fabulous? I imagine they'd make wonderful card sets too.

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  6. cute! Now I really wanna do this at home

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  7. What a great idea! They came out so cute and really look a lot like his!
    Thanks for the tutorial and the "what not to dos"! :)

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  8. I LOVE this! It is going to the top of our summer to do list!

    ps Love your blog!!

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  9. These are amazing...and would have deff been my daughters number one choice as well...it's been her favorite book since ages..the first one she learned to read she's only 5 so that was only this year but she learned it so well because we read it ridiculously. What are the chances of getting a copy of the horse or caterpillar...doesn't have to be an original...card stock would work...and a photo copy...PLEASE lol

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  10. Katie, hmmm, drafting vellum. Maybe? This regular tracing paper wrinkled a lot.

    Katria, possibly, but seems like the wax would resist the paint, like you said. Maybe I should just ask Eric Carle? Crazy enough to work.

    Traveling Thrifter, my daughter is deep in negotiations with her talent agent and her work is unavailable at this time. :-)

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  11. Great stuff! I love it when I can give my kids a hands-on learning experience. We are definitely going to try this!

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  12. Wow! That looks absolutely wonderful. I'm going to borrow this idea to use next year in my Kindergarten classroom!

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  13. These turned out beautifully, kudos to the kids' (and your) work!

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  14. Oh! you always give me an itch! Now I can't wait to try this with some of our tribe! I love the stained window effect too. I would have been tempted to leave them up and enjoy them for a long time that way. The pictures came out so nicely. What budding little artist!

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  15. These look fantastic! They look so much like his work! I'll have to store this one for when my little ones are a little older.

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  16. LOVE IT!!! We love his books too, what a great project. I have been a slacker doing projects with kids since Colby was in preschool this year. This has totally inspired me! (But I might wait until Curt returns from CA...in three weeks.)

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  17. Eric Carle has a museum here in MA you can look it up online.
    http://www.carlemuseum.org/

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  18. Eric Carle has a museum here in MA you can look it up online.
    http://www.carlemuseum.org/

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  19. Love this idea. Looks like lots of fun! Maybe i'll try it with my niece and nephew.

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  20. I am a children's art Specialist and have taught this lesson to my students. Your daughter did a fabulous job of demonstrating Eric Carle's technique...Well done....Love the horse especially...Joyful!

    Susan

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  21. Thanks everybody, I'm glad we could inspire you to try it too. If you do, share some pictures. Also, I got the answer about the tissue paper so check the post for a note.

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  22. I love this, Larissa! I'm in the middle of having-purchased-new-curriculum-wondering-if-I-made-the-right-choice angst, so this didn't help that. TOG better impress! Or you could just filter SL for me and send me all of these great ideas...

    Oh, and I'd be happy to accompany you on a field trip/school prep outing to Kate's Paperie if you feel it's necessary. Love that place so much.

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  23. Robyn, you'll be relieved to know that SL didn't suggest the art project, just the report on the artist. Which sparked the rest because of this really arty teacher they have.

    But I am toying with the whole Kate's Paperie idea. Wow, just think, while you were there you might have been rubbing elbows with Eric Carle's personal assistant!

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  24. I think I am going to have to borrow this idea for our home school art one day this next week. Which curriculum do you use?

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  25. Kadybug, we use Sonlight, http://www.sonlight.com/

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  26. What a great project. They came out super cute too!

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  27. Okay, forget the beach. NYC - here we come!!!!

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  28. Such a great idea...looks wonderful and they really seem to enjoy the project. Are those silly bands on the wrist I see? Oh, I know all about those!

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  29. Robyn, ok. I'm in!

    Jennifer DeDonato, yep, alas, the silly bands wave has crashed on our house.

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  30. Larissa! I'm sooo glad I found your site! It is so jam packed with loveliness and now I will definitely have to grab a cup and sneak away from the children so I can read all your gorgeous bits and pieces! I have some train fabric which i have been wanting to turn into a messenger bag for ages so my three year old son can carry all his trains easily rather than in armfulls out to the car! (he likes to take them everywhere!) A breath of fresh air - thankyou :)

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  31. Now THIS is pure awesomeness!!! Can't wait to do this with my kids! :)

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  32. What an awesome project! I love that you carried the report further into this arty lesson. :) Can I ask which level/core of Sonlight the report was for? I am about to purchase Core 1 for my now-7-yr-old so I'm assuming if we'll come across that assignment, but want to confirm. Thanks! :)

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  33. Donna Heart, welcome to the blog and thank you! Love to see your messenger bag!

    Boys Live Here, Yes, it is Core 1. The assignment is the research and the report on a favorite artist. But the whole art experiment that followed was just a spontaneous thing, not an assignment in Core 1, just so's you know.

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  34. That is really cool. I love all the research everyone did to make the project! Love it!

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  35. This is GENIOUS! Sign me up, I'm your newest follower!

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  36. wow, this is absolutely amazing! i am a big fan of eric carle's and going to have to try this, How cute would this be in a nursery?!

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  37. We did a project like this in my middle school art class.
    Everyone had to do a picture of their choice in Eric Carle's style. We painted tissue paper and then cut the shapes out and glued.

    Check out the project on my blog post!

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  38. What kid, or adult for that matter, doesn't love Carle! and know you got to be him?! SOOO COOL

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  39. Those are great. I have done a project in a similar way but I have the kids paint on typing paper then we lay tissue paper on top and add some more paint. When it drys we can cut out the shapes we need.

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  40. I absolutely love this idea! As a future art teacher in training and a current preschool teacher I really like this idea. Kids can create a relevant image and not only hang it up- but see light pass though it AND see it from the outside of a building. REALLY cool idea. I am going to go into work tomorrow to see if we have tissue paper!

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