My summer venture at the Eric Carle Museum was nothing short of wonderful. I have much to tell you!
The museum is celebrating 20 years. The main exhibit is Celebrating Collage. Of course! Eric Carle’s art was all done in collage. What a perfect way to highlight his work and the museum’s anniversary. The work of 20 picture book artists and 90 featured collages are on display. In the words of the museum, they transform the mundane into the magical.
Here’s the BIG thing: when you read a picture book and admire the illustrations, you may have no idea how that art was actually made. It could be a watercolor or oil painting. It could also be cut-outs of a variety if materials, also known as collages. Details of the original art typically cannot be seen in the picture book illustration.
The first time I went to the Eric Carle museum, the exhibit was “A Child in the Community.” I was face-to-face with an Ezra Jack Keats illustration of the classic children’s book, The Snowy Day. Are you ready for this? The illustration was made from cut-out linoleum. Really. I was stunned.
That began my deep respect for the art of illustrations.
Whenever I read a picture book, I think about the illustrations and how the artist made them.
Here I am this past weekend, with The Snowy Day, once again. Yes, I was (slightly) out of control; I was more excited than a four-year-old, and visitors gave me parting glances.
The current exhibit has a plethora of collage illustrations – and many you never knew were collages.
Lois’ mother was a seamstress, and her father was a woodworker, so she frequently got their scraps of materials. She made collage art, often combining real objects with painted ones, like this one:
Micha Archer’s collage illustration of Patricia MacLachlan’s book Prairie Days is stunning. I think this is art that would make Eric Carle smile.
One of my favorite collages was Melissa Sweet’s display of the illustration and also artifacts she used in her book about E.B. White, Some Writer.
If you zoom in on the illustration below, you can see the detail of the collage art.
The highlight of my visit was a presentation and book signing by Astrid Sheckels of her new book, Hector Fox and the Raven’s Revenge. This is the long-awaited second book in the Hector Fox series. The story is exciting, full of adventure, and has a surprise ending. It is equally as excellent as the first book, Hector Fox and the Giant Quest. And, the illustrations are magnificent.
I love Hector Fox.
I have his portrait hanging in my living room.
The next time you read a picture book, imagine how the artist created the illustration. It could be anything from a pen and ink drawing, to a woodcut, to hundreds of tiny pieces of raised paper to create feathers. It could be paint so thick that it’s lumpy and bumpy to create the ocean. It could be made from felt, tin, buttons, and linoleum. Whenever I read to my students, I spend time to talk about the art of the illustrations.
These are all illustrations I have seen at the Eric Carle Museum. Art is a feast for the eyes that fills the soul.