The Artist’s Magazine, in its July/August 2009 issue, ran a combined profile/how-does-he-do-it article on the prolific children’s book writer/illustrator Eric Carle. Mr. Carle is known for his disarming and deceptively simple use of “painted tissue paper collage.” As Holly Davis wrote in “A Very Young Heart,” it is his “hallmark” and the artist has been refining its form and use for many, many years.
I was struck by the joyful persistence that seems to characterize Mr. Carle and his continuous tending to what makes his work, his look, his approach, unique. On the one hand, this is just one simple idea — a “painted tissue paper collage.” On the other hand, it is an idea that is born anew every time he takes on a new project. His discipline extends to reprints of his existing work. For example, “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See,” his first picture book, has been reprinted six times. So, six times he has refreshed and updated the illustrations to reflect the ongoing development of his collage process.
And here’s an example of where Mr. Carle’s collage themes might come from: ”… a newspaper article about a crate of 29,000 rubber ducks that fell from a ship — and the various places where some of those ducks were later found …” was the genesis for two works, the counting book “10 Little Rubber Ducks” and the picture book “Topsy Turvy.”