Marvelous Matisse Cut Outs

Students in first and second grade created striking collages made from  a variety of images similar to those designed by Henri Matisse.  In reference to his paper cutouts, Matisse stated, “I cut paper, but I’m drawing with the scissors.”  Matisse also called the collage process  “cutting into color”.

We looked at examples of Matisse’s  Goldfish and many examples of his cut paper designs.

Here’s the process:

First we painted some watercolor paper with watercolor paints in cool color and covered the paper with saran wrap while the paper was wet to get a fun, watery texture.  Let this paper dry.

Next, we worked with the background paper, creating blocks of color with some precut geometric shapes and glued them down.

We also cut lots of organic shapes form colorful paper, in the style of Matisse, “drawing with the scissors”.  Some were glued to the background; some were saved for using in the composition later.

To make our goldfish bowls, we folded an 8 1/2 x 11 inch sheet of printer paper in half (either lengthwise or crosswise) and drew half of a vase starting from the folded edge to create a symmetrical template.  Then this shape was cut out to create a shape to trace.  Trace the goldfish bowl template onto the back of the watery painted paper and cut out the goldfish bowl.

I had some templates to trace for the stool and students cut them from black paper.  We also cut goldfish from some collage paper that had been painted for another project.

The last step was assembling the many elements of the collage.  This was when kids really got to use their mad artist skills and try lots of different compositions before gluing down the end product.

As Matisse (also) said: “Creativity takes courage.

Enjoy Simon G. and Leah’s collages!


Abstract Still Lifes

This is what we’re doing in third grade right now.  My main goal is to reinforce painting skills: practice painting simple shapes and to leave white space around the painting. I love the painterly look it creates, and think this will be a nice change from painting to the edge, which we almost always do.

1. We first watched a DVD called Drawing For All    Students practiced drawing cylinders, spheres, etc in a traditional still life that was set at each table.Then I asked them to use these shapes again, overlapping on their watercolor paper, and trace them lightly in pencil, and again in crayon. The harder they press down with the crayon, the better the “wall” they make to keep the paint from running together.
2. Using watercolor trays, they painted in all the different shapes different colors, jumping around from spot to spot and trying not to paint wet areas next to wet areas.
Enjoy this painting by third grader Morgan S.
This lesson was inspired from a lesson by Kathy Barbro at