Sunday, March 29, 2009

Collage Done Right

Now that I've got my mind on collage, I seem to see it everywhere. Of course, collage and children's books have gone together for a long time (think Eric Carle, Ezra Jack Keats, and Leo Leoni). But I've recently gotten my hands on two beautiful picture books that combine collage and painting in a really exciting way.

Wow, is this book fun to look at. Shelley Jackson uses the perfect combination of fabrics, photos, stitching patterns, and painting. My favorite is the illustration depicting the main character trying to "think all kinds of chicken thoughts" so she can sneak up on Miss Hen. We see her squinting out of one eye at the chicken while photos of corn kernals, worms, eggs, corn bread, and corn cobs swirl around her head.

Then there's "A River of Words." This book absolutely took my breath away. In the back pages, Melissa Sweet explains how she turned to a box of used books she bought at a library sale for inspiration when creating the collages for this biography of the poet William Carlos Williams. Among other things, she uses star charts, spelling books, and prescription pads in her collages and often paints right on the covers and end pages of those used library books. Combined with Melissa's quiet, simple paintings, the result is brilliant. No wonder this book won a Caldecott Honor.

Finally, I was in Barnes and Noble the other day when I bumped into this book:

Now, Louis Armstrong is kind of a hero in this household, so I was so excited to discover that he was a fellow collage artist! The yellowing Scotch tape somehow fits perfectly with the cut up photos of jazz life and newspaper words. Satchmo's love of life and of music comes through loud and clear.


  1. Hi Janet--

    I'm an artist who loves collage too and also took a course from Laura Montenegro. Thanks for sharing these books you discovered. I'm off to the Magic Tree Bookstore to see if they have these in stock.


  2. Hi Sallie,

    Yes, I seem to remember seeing your calendar collages with birds and found objects-- they were beautiful! I'm new to collage, but having lots of fun. Thanks for visiting!