Eric Carle has a website, with a lot of good information including links, resources, ideas, etc. (www.eric-carle.com) One of the things I like to show the kids is how he creates the artwork (found under photo and video gallery on his site) for his books by cutting apart and putting together tissue paper collages. (this will actually make sense if you have seen the video/slideshow)
I also tell the kids that another way to achieve similar effects is by finger-painting, and we look through several of the inside covers of his pages to see what looks like finger-painting.
Then... we get to the fun stuff! FINGER-PAINTING! One of my literacy centers is the art center, as I found it is MUCH easier to have 2-4 kids do a messy/fun project at a time than a whole classroom. Anyways, the trick to make this work, is to only let the kids use 1-2 colors each day, and paint/cover the entire (or close to entire) paper. When I gave them too many colors of paint, everything turned out brown :( . This way, when we are ready for step two, they kids have different color painted paper to choose from.
The next week, I cut up the larger already finger-painted into fourths and put them at the art center.
Below are 4 different papers, already cut into fourths. You can see I let the kids use more than one color, but only one or two so there was a predominant color over all.
Finally, students are to cut the finger-painted paper and make it into a picture, much like Eric Carle does with his tissue paper. They are not allowed to draw anything on their picture, it must only be pieces they collaged together. (If they want to draw lines on the painted paper to help them cut, that's OK with me). Below are a couple of the finished results. I am amazed at how good these turn out every year!
An owl in a tree
A summer scene
Can you tell which Eric Carle book inspired this? :)