Leaf Collage Art {Eric Carle inspired}

My kindergartener is learning about Eric Carle at school, so we decided to try the famous author/illustrator’s collage technique as a fun extension at home this week. Not only did we have a great time but we were able to turn our paintings into a beautiful fall leaf collage. While this project does contain several steps, don’t be intimidated. The steps to this fall leaf collage are simple, open-ended, and fun for all ages (even adults).

leaf collage eric carle

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Supplies for Eric Carle’s Collage Technique {simplified version}

Before starting, it’s helpful to watch this slideshow by Eric Carle himself of his actual tissue paper technique. The process that I will explain here is my own simplified version of his technique based on his video. You can find an additional simplified technique using actual tissue paper on Imagination Tree.

  • Construction Paper – While Eric Carle uses tissue paper, I chose construction paper to avoid frustration with the tissue paper tearing.
  • Paints – Pick several nice contrasting colors. I like using Crayola’s washable paints.
  • Paintbrushes – We only had small paintbrushes and sponge brushes, but if we did this technique again I would use a set of different size brushes.
  • Textured objects – Eric Carle uses a scrap of carpet in his video. We chose leaves, bottle caps, Legos, and a play dough rolling pin. Really you can use anything that has an interesting texture.
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick – I used a scrap booking glue stick so that the glue wouldn’t start to pull off over time.
  • Newspaper or oilcloth for work surface – this project is messy!
  • White paper or cardstock

How to recreate Eric Carle’s painting technique

Step 1 – Pick a piece of paper and a contrasting paint color.

Step 2 – Paint some sort of line going down the paper.

*Note: These steps 2 – 5 are based on Eric Carle’s video, but you will notice in his books that many of his painting just use a minimum of colors with interesting textures. I liked using the bright colors because they reminded me of fall, but some kids may prefer to stick to a couple colors for simplicity.

We only had sponge brushes (big thick brushes would have been much better.) But, my preschooler improvised with these bold dotted lines using the sponge brush.

painting the sheets of paper

Step #3 – Pick a new contrasting color and paint lines going the opposite direction.

painted papers with lines

Step #4 – Add dots or a fun pattern in a new color.

A sponge circle shaped brush is perfect for this step.

Step #5 – Use your textured objects to add texture in a previous color or new color.

As you can see below, some of our textured objects didn’t transfer the paint evenly. But once you start cutting the paper it all blends in, so don’t stress about perfection.

using different textures like leaves

Stop to let it all dry. The results are really fun, and my kid wanted to keep the papers rather than make a collage!

painted papers with textures

(Well, you are supposed to let it dry, but we actually blotted ours with a paper towel to hurry the process along. You only have so much time to have fun while the baby naps, you know.)

How to recreate Eric Carle’s collage technique to make a Leaf Collage

Eric Carle then cuts his tissue paper designs into carefully cut pieces that are made into his illustrations. We chose to make a leaf collage out of our pages.

Step #1 – Cut out leaf shapes.

It’s easy to over think this step of cutting out your leaf shapes. Remember that this whole process will have an abstract finished look, it’s okay if your leaves are just leavish shapes.

Step #2 – Glue the leaves to your paper.

glued leaf collages

Step #3 – You can use other scraps to embellish your leaf collage art or add a border.

Here’s our end products. I love both of our leaf collage art projects. The colors are bright and remind me of fall. I really liked how this art project was great for team work, not to mention a great learning experience about Eric Carle’s great work.

Are you looking for a book extension? Eric Carle has written a number of books, and all are enjoyable. Here are a couple of our favorites:



You can also check out my Eric Carle themed hike based on A House for Hermit Crab.

Bethany Winston: No Twiddle TwaddleHi! I’m Bethany. I’m a mom, weekly Greenville News columnist, and co-owner of Kidding Around Greenville SC. Welcome to my parenting blog No Twiddle Twaddle, all about adding a little magic to kids’ lives through play and reading. If you are new, don’t miss these other fall posts: 50+ Easy No Sew Costumes for Kids and Jack-o’-Lantern Doodle Sheets. You can join me on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest (I’m a BHG.com Pinner Pro!). Subscribe via email to get my updates straight in your inbox.

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