Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Henri Matisse Collage

I adapted this lesson from the Incredible @rt Department . It's listed under Matisse Goldfish-Mixed Media in the elementary lessons section. It has several steps, but it works well for groups where you have students that work at different speeds because there is always another segment to work on. I start off with everyone doing the fish bowls together. It's a great way to work on some basic drawing skills. After I present the information on Matisse, and we look at several of his gold fish works, we draw out fish bowl lightly in pencil on white construction paper and cut them out. Then the fun part; we experiment with blending watercolors in blues and greens. We use very "watery" paint, and then while it's still wet, we sprinkle table salt on the paint and it gives it a crystallized effect. The students always think this is so "cool". Next we cut out the table top (I always talk about perspective here) and decoupage it with a variation of pink tissue paper. These two items are set aside to dry until the next class session.

For the background, I use a white sheet of construction paper. Sometimes I let the kids go outside and collect their own assortment of leaves, or sometimes I already have an assortment together (depending on time and class dynamics). I peel the wrappers off a large selection of cool colored crayons and let them do leaf rubbings to totally cover the background. I encourage them to overlap colors and leaves. Also the sparkle crayons give this a great extra "punch".

The last segment of this project is putting everything together. The students cut out the gold fish and extra flowers out of tissue. Everything is glued into place and we use oil pastels to draw the table legs and any other accents. This is also a great lesson to talk about the impact of cool and warm colors used in composition. I love how the gold fish "pop" off the page. *When gluing on the fish bowls be sure to use a sponge brush to apply the glue instead of putting it right on the back-this will help to avoid the "glue lines" like in some of these pics.


  1. Wow - those are amazing! My kids would love making those. What a great activity!


  2. I LOVE these! I was going to do a Matisse cut-out collage next week, but I may have to change and do this goldfish project. I will definitely use this at some point! What age groups did these? I love the idea and effect of the leaf rubbings.

  3. I love this lesson... what beautiful results! Thanks for sharing it!!


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