Sand Art

Wendell Minor’s children’s books reflect his love for the land and environment. Illustrating books for naturalist authors Jean Craighead George and Diane Siebert, among others, he approaches his art by researching and experiencing each environment he illustrates. His travels have taken him from the tropical Everglades of Florida to Barrow, Alaska in the Arctic Circle, from the Midwest to the Grand Canyon in the Southwest, and throughout the United States.

In his book, Rachel: The Story of Rachel Carson, Minor's watercolor and gouache illustrations capture the broad sweep of the land as well as the tiny connections in the woods and in the sea around us. Rachel Carson was always curious about the world around her. As a girl, she loved being outside, exploring and learning more about the universe. Rachel loved the woods, built a summer cottage in Maine, wrote about the ocean, and finally published her landmark book, Silent Spring,  about the poisonous pesticides killing wildlife, considered to be the start of today's environmental movement.

Based on:

Rachel: The Story of Rachel Carson illustrated by Wendell Minor


  • Colored sand
  • Construction paper
  • Brush
  • Glue
  • Markers or crayons


Use sand as a medium to show texture.

Going About Your Artwork
Draw a picture. It could be a simple object observed in nature like a flower, a shell, a tree – or you can be brave and try a landscape. Thin the glue with water and brush it over your illustration. (Thinning the glue will make it easier to spread over the entire area.)

For Landscape: Fill your entire scene with different colored sand by sprinkling it on top of the glue. Gently tap off the excess and let dry.

For Individual Objects: Sprinkle the sand either on the object outline or fill in the object with sand. If you choose to outline the object with sand, you can add more details by coloring the inside with crayons, markers, watercolors or any other medium.

*Please remember that you need to wash out your paintbrush with soap and water after using it for the glue so it doesn’t ruin the brush.

Extension Activity
Carson was a student of nature, a born ecologist. In her books based on the ocean, Carson wrote about geologic discoveries, underwater research, climate change and its effects. Learn more about Rachel Carson, her work and other famous figures from Americana that Minor has illustrated.