Monday, June 25, 2007

Happy Birthday Eric Carle!

The wonderful children's author and illustrator Eric Carle turns 78 today. This week, read a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar to a child in his honor, or perhaps one of his other terrific books!

We have more Carle favorites than we count. Some of the sweet girl's absolute favorites lately have been Mister Seahorse and Dream Snow. Caterpillar probably still wins out as her all-time favorite though, not just among Carle's books, but among books period.

We like Carle's work so much that we recently did our own "Very Hungry Caterpillar" art project, based on the instructions in the book The Art of Eric Carle. His main artistic method is collage made from painted tissue paper, and the instructions in the art project teach you, step by step, how to paint the tissue papers. Sweet Girl loved it, and we even got a lesson in patience -- she had not realized how long it would take for the papers to dry before we could cut them out and assemble our own collage.

By the way, here's a picture of our final masterpiece, which currently graces our fridge:

Besides learning patience, my little girl learned an important lesson in artistic individuality. She really liked our caterpillar when we were done, but I could tell she was struggling with something. Finally she said, "He doesn't look EXACTLY like the one in the book." And I got to explain (happily) that no, he didn't, because no two artists are exactly alike. We used Eric Carle's methods, and even some of the same kinds of materials he used, but we brought our own special gifts and way of doing things to the picture. I told her I thought Eric Carle would be very pleased about that. Which pleased her too.

Note to all who want to try such a project: if you're using water-based paints (which we were, because washable paints make a great deal of sense when you're painting with children) you don't need to use much extra water to thin the paint before you stroke it onto the tissue paper. The thinner the paint, the more likely that the tissue paper will tear. Although Carle recommends that you only paint on one single piece of tissue paper at a time (and lay it flat on a newspaper to dry) we had more success doubling up the tissue paper, though we only painted the top layer. The papers came out really nicely...we will likely try painting more sometime, and assembling other collages. Right now our remaining scraps are in the sweet girl's top dresser drawer (where she keeps art and craft things). She definitely wanted to put them in her drawer because, as she pointed out, Eric Carle puts his finished papers in drawers too!


Erin said...

What a masterpiece! I remember working with tissue paper in art class and recall how frustrating it could be... You guys did a great job. And I also like that pig magnet, which reminds me a lot of Wilbur...

Note: As I'm writing this, my dad is reading the first chapter of Sorcerer's Stone. I finally wore him down! ;)

Beth said...

Oh hooray! A new Harry fan! Is this really the first time your Dad has read the books?

Ha -- you noticed the pig magnet! When I took the picture, I didn't really notice what magnet was showing but I noticed it later. We have about a gazillion magnets on our fridge, including a very cool set of animal magnets my sister got for S. a couple of years ago. The pig reminds me of Wilbur too.

Yes, tissue paper was more challenging than I expected...but it was fun too! Glad you liked our "masterpiece." :-)

Erin said...

First time ever! My mom hasn't read them either, though she almost never reads novels. Have to work on her next. ;) She has seen the movies; Dad's tried, but he always seems to fall asleep...