Tissue Paper Painting

We’ve had some challenges getting into the studio lately (husband travel, stomach bugs), but we finally managed to try something I’ve been looking forward to: painting tissue paper using Eric Carle’s method. (That link will take you to a slide show from his web site.)

Materials: Tissue paper (I used white tissue paper I bought at Target, and cut it in half so it was easier to work with), watered-down tempera paints, newsprint for protecting the table and for the papers to dry on, brushes and other objects for applying paint. I watered down the tempera quite a bit. Tissue paper is very, very thin, and it can’t take much paint before tearing.

Before beginning, we looked at some of our Eric Carle books, and I explained to the boys how the papers would dry in between, to keep the various colors from mixing.

My two-year-old also painted tissue paper, but she insisted on layering all the paint in one spot.

This served as a cautionary example for the boys, because of course, her paper ripped. (But it’s process! Not product!)

We started with a layer of one color, and then let it dry while we had lunch. I’d planned on doing this spaced out over one day–there really is a lot of waiting in between while the paints dry–but the second layer took longer than expected to dry so we stretched it out over an extra day. Here, my nine-year-old is adding a second layer to one of his sheets.

Here are some sheets drying after the first two layers.

My nine-year-old wanted to add small dots to one of his sheets, so I suggested a pencil eraser. It worked out just as he’d envisioned.

Here, my six-year-old is applying his third layer with a sponge. Because the sponge was larger than the paint container, he painted the sponge with a paintbrush, then applied the sponge to the paper.

He also used a sponge for his second sheet (each boy did two to start with, as we were limited by drying space).

On the left below is my nine-year-old’s second sheet, with the third layer applied with a smaller sponge. On the right is my sheet (I only did one). I used the edge of a sponge to apply my third layer.

This was really fun, although it made me wish we had nice large drying shelves so we weren’t limited to what would fit on the washer and dryer to dry. The possibilities are just so endless! I talked with the boys at the start how we could use these as collage papers, and it seemed they both had some ideas in mind at the start–they both talked about trying for a water effect with their blue sheets. By the end, though, my six-year-old was wondering aloud whether he really wanted to tear his sheets up. I have a plan in mind for mine, as well. Hopefully we will have an easier time getting back into the studio sooner rather than later–as with most things, it seems I have more ideas than time!

5 thoughts on “Tissue Paper Painting

  1. Jill

    I wonder if you could get one of those wire racks with the skinny shelves like they have at the Carle for stuff to dry on? I don’t think they take up much square footage. Syl’s school has them too.

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