The Art of Eric Carle

So did anyone notice what was on the Google homepage today to symbolize the first day of Spring? I was so excited when I saw little illustrations from Eric Carle's A Very Hungry Caterpillar (he is one of my heroes). And I bought a little book a while back called "The Art of Eric Carle," which I was planning on sharing with you. Enough procrastination, today is the day. I was sent a sign.

The Art of Eric Carle chronicles his life and his work with children's books. In a pleasant-to-read storybook fashion, the book features an autobiography of his life in Germany and in the US, articles written about his work, sketches, drawings, and collages.

This book shares some surprises, I haven't read it fully yet but it does divulge the secret technique behind his illustrations. I had never really thought about how he made his collaged children's illustrations (probably because I read his books when I was a kid) but he definitely has his own style and a unique method.

From The Art of Eric Carle:

Eric Carle creates his artwork using a technique called collage. Even before he illustrated Brown Bear, What Do You See? he was using this method in his artwork for advertising illustrations. At that time he used store-bought tissue papers which were available in some four dozen shades of colour. From these tissue papers he cut or tore out shapes and pasted them down with rubber cement on illustration boards. Later, Eric Carle started to paint on commercially available tissue papers to add more texture. (page 65)

(Above image) On the left, Carle paints tissue paper, Right, sheets are laid out to dry.

I'll include a few of the steps in making tissue paper, shown in the above photograph.

From The Art of Eric Carle:

How To Prepare Coloured Tissue Papers

1. Squeeze paint (acrylic, water, or poster paint) into a dish, add water.

2. ...and stir.

3. Place a single sheet of tissue paper on a clean surface.

4. Paint bold strokes onto the tissue paper. (Hint: Lift up the tissue paper briefly, so it doesn't stick to the surface.) Let it dry on newspapers while working on other tissue papers.

5. Apply a second colour. Perhaps in blue wavy brushstrokes. Again: lift tissue paper and let it dry on newspapers.

(Above image) How to make a collage illustration. (Looks like he's making the caterpillar!

I hope you enjoyed this little excerpt, and you should buy this book, if you can find it somewhere. (I don't know if it's still for sale, I found it in a used book store). He also has another book I would like to find, called You Can Make a Collage: A Very Simple How-to Book for all ages of course.

Published by Philomel Books.

Happy Spring!



I was JUST flipping through this book last night with my daughter!

Quite serendipitous. Eric Carle is wonderful.

Oh that's so funny! It's such a great book!
How can anyone not be an Eric Carle fan, haha. It's impossible!

Wow, I didn't know him until I read your post! How fun and cool! Thank you.. :)

i love this blog. it's been such fun browsing through and i haven't finished...

Notpaper is a blog dedicated to showcasing the work of international collage artists. We strive to meet the artists and understand the thoughts behind the process, so interviews with artists are a big part of what we do. If you are new to the site, please enjoy our archives featuring hundreds of collagists!   more 


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