Thursday, 23 June 2011

Painting with Music - inspired by "I See a Song" by Eric Carle

We've been inspired by another of Eric Carle's amazing picture books, "I See A Song" is a beautiful book which transports the reader on a magical musical journey. As a violinist introduces himself at the beginning of the book he explains; "I see a song. I paint music. I hear colour"

As you start to read, the black & white illustrations of the violinist fade, & Eric Carle's wonderful artwork transports you through a colourful masterpiece.

I See a Song (Blue Ribbon Book)

I managed to find a copy of this book on Amazon, & Minnie loves studying the illustrations & describing which shapes & objects she sees on each page.

Inspired by this book, we listened to music to see if we could hear colour. Minnie is currently fascinated by the ocean, & as soon as she saw a large art canvas she wanted to paint the sea! 

We collected  paint & a collection of materials to paint/create with. To give Minnie space to explore the paint I added an old plastic kids food tray (that I picked up in a secondhand store). It has a selection of large & small compartments which is great when using different sized painting tools. 
Painting materials included a selection of different sized brushes, shells, small pebbles, sticks, lolly sticks, string, sponges, ribbon, bubble wrap, corrugated paper, jute gauze, pencils, straws. The great thing is most of these items were recycled.

We selected our music (Anitra's Dance from Peer Gynt Suite No.1 by Grieg) & Minnie started to create!

She started painting with brushes, then with her hands, bubble wrap, a section of jute gauze, shells, sponges, & large brushes.

Here's a glimpse of Minnie creating with a selection of painting materials. (The scraping noise is a shell)

As she painted she named each paint colour to herself, & briefly described what she was painting. She filled a big paintbrush with blue paint & shouted; "Deep blue sea, deep blue sea!" In this video clip you can hear her painting "Blue sky... a big blue sky!"

The hand painting & exploration continued...

Experimenting with the texture & pattern of the bubble wrap

Prints made using the jute gauze & bubble wrap

Minnie enjoyed exploring the texture of the paints, as you can see! In case you're wondering, those are not blue gloves! 

It was fascinating to observe her movements as she painted in time to the music using the roller & brushes. As certain parts of the music grew louder, Minnie smacked the paint on the canvas & as the music grew softer, her fingers swirled & blended the paint.

 The last clip shows Minnie adding her green paper 'seaweed' to the painting. Her high pitch voice almost seems to be singing along with the music as she sprinkles her seaweed over the canvas.

Some seaweed remained on the canvas, but she removed most of it before adding some cotton wool, coloured cellophane & ripped pieces of tissue paper to her sea. This gave a new dimension to the picture.

When she had finished, we set the canvas aside to dry. As it was drying Minnie placed a few pebbles (that she had collected from a recent visit to the beach) by the canvas. It was lovely to see natural objects from the beach being added to her ocean artwork.

Here's Minnie's finished picture.

Can you hear the music of the sea?

I love the movement in the painting. What could this beautiful brushstroke be?

It was wonderful to observe Minnie's creativity, imagination, self-expression, sensory exploration, & how she connected with the music - it just made my heart sing! And I think the finished picture is beautiful too!



  1. We've been looking for ideas to include more music-love this idea. The finished result is incredibly evocative.

  2. A great book that you might enjoy is called the Yellow Umbrella, it comes with a cd. THere are no words in the book, but each page comes with it's own song. Every child I've "read" this to LOVES it. You might be able to pick it up at the library. Happy Music and Art Making!

  3. Oh my, have been wanting to do more with music(sorry *SOMETHING* with music) for ages... the blogosphere is definitely lacking in great music led activities for kids. This is fabulous!

    Thank you for linking to Kids Get Crafty. Always lovely to see you there!


  4. Catherine this is just so beautiful. I had seen an artist do this a while a go and made a note in my journal to do it with J at the end of the year (when he is a little older) I just know he will be completely absorbed in the experiences too. He adores music - it is such a creative outlet for him.

    Thank you for this wonderful post. I am so looking forward to offering this same experience to J.

  5. how beautiful! u have a great artist. we dont have this book but i recently showed my son this book's vidieo on you tube...he fall in love with the music and visuals...have to buy the book.
    It's nice to 'meet' u.

  6. What a lovely idea and so beautifully presented! Perfect for her age and ability and current interest in the sea!

  7. So beautiful. I love the final product. It is very relaxing to look at and I feel calm from it. I think that white mark is a bird on the sea. What a great post. I am awarding this on my blog tomorrow. Hope you stop by and share again on art4littlehands!

  8. Thanks so much for all your lovely comments.
    Jena - will definitely keep an out for that book, sounds great, thanks for sharing :)

    Laura - wow thank you so much! We love your blog - packed full of wonderful inspiration!

  9. I think we miss out so much by not including music in the early years. Thanks for sharing the post.

  10. This is a lovely post, we recently just painted to music and it was so fun to watch how the painting style changed with the music!

    I'm with @Art For Little Hands, I think the brush stroke looks like a bird!


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