Create Your Own Matisse

Recently we’ve been doing a few activities based around the theme of France. We spent one afternoon making some pictures inspired by Van Gogh’s The Starry Night and the results were really pleasing! So, I decided we would have another go using some of Henri Matisse’s collages.
If (like me) you are almost completely unschooled in art history, you may never have heard of Matisse. Matisse had a broad range of work mostly in the first half of the twentieth century, including painting and sculpture. Towards the end of his life, when painting and sculpting had become difficult for him, Matisse began creating paper collages, and this is what we looked at together.
Some of Matisse’s work. Clockwise from top left: The Snail; Panel with Mask; Anfitrite; Polinesia, The Sky.

When I first showed T the examples above, she requested to instead draw a picture of Matisse himself. Thank goodness for Google! I was able to quickly find a picture of Matisse and T set about drawing him. T is in that phase where she draws quite a lot of people, and by and large they all look pretty similar! So instead, we talked about including some of his more prominent features  such as his beard, glasses, and the “little hair” (as she called it) on his head. I was really impressed with the results!
child's drawing of matisse
Later in the day, we were able to come back to the activity and create a collage as I’d originally intended. We looked at the examples above and noted how Matisse often used coloured rectangles to create a background, and how many of the shapes were things from nature. We also looked at how the snail had been created with squares, and T decided she would like to recreate her own version of this.
To set up, I cut several strips of coloured paper (to make it simpler for T to cut her own square shapes) and drew a very simple spiral template on her paper to guide her.
Here is the finished product! T really enjoyed creating her snail and making the artwork her own – you can see she added some orange sky and the sun, as well as some grass “for the snail to slither on”!
Image of T's attempt at The Snail by Matisse
The seemingly random yellow square halfway up the page is the snail’s head. Apparently it’s floating!
To see more of the activities from our French week, click here! And to be sure you don’t miss any future posts, please subscribe by entering your email address in the box to the right (or at the bottom of the page if you are viewing on mobile or tablet). Thanks!

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