As part of our homeschool geography this past month we studied France, and there are a plethora of artists to learn about, which then led into a homeschool art lesson, which I don’t write about as much here, but we quite enjoyed this Henri Matisse unit study.
Who is Henri Matisse?
Henri Matisse was a famous artist, first he was known for gorgeous paintings, and then one day he fell dangerously ill. He did not have the fine motor control to paint anymore, and Henri Matisse despaired. What would he do with his life if he could not paint? First he tried painting from his bed. He painted the ceiling of his sick room (I bet that did not go over well with the landlord).
Then he discovered he could cut paper out. So he recreated the great flowers scenes he saw in his head, and from his sick bed. Eventually Henri Matisse was no longer known for his paintings, but for his giant collage murals.
Henri Matisse Unit Study
I found this wonderful picture book, Henri’s Scissors*, and we read it then watched the video I embedded up above. I’ve discovered youtube is a great way to show the kids large amounts of an artist’s work if you don’t have access to a museum with their work, perfect for this Henri Matisse unit study because our local museums don’t have any of his work.
FYI, if you can’t find Henri’s Scissors, here’s a couple of other good books to try:
- Henri Matisse: Drawing with Scissors*
- Matisse’s Garden*
- Henri Matisse (Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists)*<< I like this series, but it’s definitely for upper elementary or middle school
Then I turned my kids loose with Construction Paper*, my favorite Fiskars Scissors*, Glue Sticks* (it is worth it to pay the extra for Elmer’s gluesticks, I made that mistake recently and threw out the lot I bought after too many worthless gluesticks), and a few random paper punches I had from my scrapbooking days.
And they happily cut and glued, and made something not the least like the flower projects Matisse started with. No, they made a Scooby Doo scene, and a headless horseman, because they still had Halloween on their mind. That and recently were rewatching Scooby Doo episodes on Netflix or somewhere.
Their only complaint was not being able to use paints. They’d heard art study and assumed that meant using paints, and in particular our acrylic paints. They are all quite firm in their dislike of watercolor paints. They don’t have the fine motor control to get the results they want from the quality of paints I have.
Once I’ve dug up the kids art projects I’ll share with you their final projects. I thought I had pictures of all of them, and instead I have 3 pictures of mine in varying states of done. I don’t know, maybe I was feeling self-centered that day.
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Henri Matisse picture found here and used with permission under Creative Commons license.
Natalie PlanetSmartyPants says
Oh maybe you didn’t feel like headless horseman reflects Matisse’s work 😀 Great study! We learned a bit about Matisse ages back in preschool – it would be fun to repeat it now. Perhaps next year!
Probably true, but it sure does represent my son’s work….
maryanne @ mama smiles says
I should do this with my kids!
Your kids would LOVE it!
Kids can do a Matisse puzzle with teddy bear pieces (Pianist & Checker Players) for familiarity with his paintings. This is a good article about exposing kids to art:
That’s a good idea.