Painted Collage Art

How To Create Painted Collage Art With Your Kids

This exploration is for all ages, as the colored smilies show. You can do painted collage art with your whole family together (I loved this one as much as my 6-year-old did!).

1st thru 4th grades
5th thru 8th grades
9th thru 12th grades

Layers of Learning Unit 2-1
Unit 2-1: Byzantines, Turkey, Climate & Seasons, Byzantine Art

This painted collage art project is a great companion to Unit 2-1, all about Byzantine art. Byzantine artists applied gold leafing in an early collage-style, small pieces at a time. Layers of Learning has hands-on art projects in every unit of this family-friendly curriculum. Learn more about Layers of Learning.

The word “collage” comes from the French word coller, which means “to glue.”  Collages are works of art where pieces are cut and then glued on to the artwork.  The pieces that are glued on can be all sorts of things, not just paper.  Some kinds of collage began in Japan when calligraphers adhered their beautiful writings to surfaces.  Later, gold leafing and other precious metals and gems were applied to paintings, like by Byzantine artists and in the Gothic cathedrals of 15th century Europe. Modernly, many artists have used collage in many forms to create art by adhering bits of things to create finished pieces.

Step 1: Library Research

Before you begin the art project, read a book or two with collages. Here are some suggestions, but if you can’t find these, look for books at your library about collage art. The colored smilies above each book tell you what age level they’re recommended for.

As Amazon affiliates, the recommended books and products below kick back a tiny percentage of your purchase to us. It doesn’t affect your cost and it helps us run our website. We thank you!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

by Eric Carle

Eric Carle is a master of painted collage art. This is the technique he uses for the illustrations within many of his books. You can pick up any of his books from the library and see beautiful examples of collage illustrations.

Collage Workshop For Kids

by Shannon Merenstein

Teachers from the Eric Carle Museum contributed fun collage ideas for kids to try out in this project-based book.

Painted Paper Art Workshop

by Elizabeth St. Hilaire

This book is a treasure trove of interesting methods for creating painted collage art.

Step 2: Painted Collage Art Exploration

For this project, you’ll need bright paints, thick art paper, paintbrushes in lots of shapes and sizes, some scissors, and some rubber cement (school glue will work too, but we really liked the no-wrinkle rubber cement).

These are inexpensive acrylic paints. You an choose tempera paints instead if you like.


Paint lots of papers in a variety of interesting ways – swirls, zigzags, dots, blurs, and layered colors.

Make more papers than you think you will need to create your pictures later. We all shared our painted pages, so we just collectively made a big variety of colors and patterns.  Use solid colors as well as mixtures of colors on a single design. Use sponge brushes as well as normal paintbrushes in a variety of shapes and sizes. As you paint, make sure to vary your lines, shapes, and textures to create interesting patterns.

Let your painted papers dry thoroughly.


Once dry, freehand cut the painted papers to create interesting shapes for your pictures. Don’t worry too much about perfect shapes or sizes. That’s what give collage pictures their charm.

Isabel was inspired by the red, white, and blue papers she painted and decided to create an American flag.


Glue the design down to art paper. We used our art sketchbooks. Some of the pictures had the solid white backgrounds of our sketchbooks, but we also hand cut and pieced some of the backgrounds too.  This water scene was made with lots of different colored stripes that were cut from various painted pages and then pieced together.

We played with and moved the pieces around quite a bit before actually pasting them in place.

The imperfections and variety are what make collage art truly unique and special.

Step 3: Show What You Know

Make another collage in a different style in your art sketchbook.  You can use magazine or newspaper clippings, scrapbook paper, wallpaper, or fabric. Piece together your elements and then show off all of the collage art you created while you describe the lines, colors, shapes, and textures you used. You can also tell something else you learned about collage art or a famous collage artist.

Additional Layers

Additional Layers are extra activities you can do or tangents you can take off on. You will find them in the sidebars of each Layers of Learning unit. They are optional, so just choose what interests you.

Writer’s Notebook

Create a word cloud, which is like a collage of words. You can use a word cloud generator online or artistically create one in your sketchbook. Think of a theme and then add words that center around the theme.

Famous Folks

The collage style we typically think of really began with Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso.  The two began cutting out wallpapers, cloth, and paper and adhering it to their paintings.  It wasn’t long before artists were cutting their own paintings apart and piecing them back together in new ways too.

Fruit Dish and Glass by Georges Braque.

Watch this short video about Picasso’s collage exhibit in Philadelphia’s Museum of Art.


Go visit Eric Carle’s official website.  You can see his storybooks, find out about his life, and watch how he creates his art.  He uses tissue paper and waters down his paint, so the process is actually a bit different than ours.  It would be fun to try it both ways.

Free Samples

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