Every year, hundreds of picture books are published and readers get the opportunity to experience new combinations of story and art. Along with amazing drawn and painted illustrations are those created using collage.

Collage is “an artistic composition made of various materials (as paper, cloth, or wood) glued on a surface.” In other words, pretty much anything you want to use to make your picture. Circle, Radiant Child and Parrots Over Puerto Rico are recently published picture books with collage illustrations, but there are dozens of others. Here is a small sampling of collage artists whose works you can find in the library.

Authors and illustrators Eric Carle, Debra Frasier, Leo Lionni, Bill Martin and Nancy Elizabeth Wallace usually feature cut or torn paper collages with details drawn or painted on that catch and hold readers’ eyes in their books. (Who doesn’t stare at the beautiful butterfly that Carle’s very hungry caterpillar turns into?) Lois Ehlert’s cut and torn paper illustrations often include found objects--see Snowballs!, in which she decorates a snow family with edibles for birds and squirrels. (I always want to go out and build snow people after reading it.) Faith Ringgold turned her story quilt Tar Beach into an award-winning picture book of the same name, incorporating canvas paper and the fabric from her quilt’s border. Clare Beaton creates lively, detailed sewn fabric collages for her books and Susan L. Roth uses both fabric and paper to capture a three-dimensional quality in her illustrations. Javaka Steptoe has layered paint, paper scraps, paint tubes, photos and even pocket lint in his collages, while David Wisniewski used layers of precisely-cut paper illustrations to bring his books to life.

Collage artists’ work is as varied as their materials are. Spend some time examining their books page by page. Who knows? You may gain some inspiration.

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