How to Paint Like Matisse Activity

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Updated on Apr 8, 2013

Using patterns while painting was one of Henri Matisse's ways of creating rhythm in his artwork. In this activity, your little artist can try his hand at this style of painting which is used to keep the viewer’s eyes busy from the top to the bottom of the picture. Not only will your child’s artwork be an ode to the master, but he’ll also practice identifying and creating a variety of patterns.

What You Need:

  • Two white sheets of watercolor paper (8.5" x 11").
  • Paintbrushes
  • Water cup
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Glue stick
  • Paint (tempera, poster or acrylic)

What You Do:

  1. Look at images of patterns on the Internet with your child. Take a look at stripes, polka dots and checkerboard patterns. Then, look at Matisse's painting, “Purple Robe With Anemones”. This will be the painting he recreates with his own figure and patterns.
  2. Have your child draw, in pencil, an outline of a figure sitting in a chair next to a table with flowers on it.
  3. Have him draw a different pattern for each section, including the clothing, chair, tablecloth and flowers.
  4. He can now paint all of these patterns using different colors for each section. Each pattern should be completely unique. Encourage the use of bright colors.
  5. Set this part of the painting aside to dry.
  6. Using a pencil, help your child divide the second sheet of white paper into 3 sections. An easy way to draw the sections is to draw the inside of a Peace sign, with the bottom two lines ending up above the corners of the paper by at least 3 fingers. You will end up with a floor and two walls.
  7. Have him draw in a pattern for each wall and the floor. Again, no patterns should repeat.
  8. He can now paint in the patterns of the walls and floor with vibrant colors. No patterns should repeat in color.
  9. Set aside to dry.
  10. Carefully, have your child slowly cut around his figure in the chair, the table and flowers all in one big shape.
  11. When the walls and floor are dry, have him glue the back of his figure using a glue stick, and firmly press it down so the chair is situated on the floor.

More about Matisse: Henri Matisse, (1869-1954) was a French artist, known for his bold use of lavish colors. During his life, he worked as a painter, printmaker and sculptor. His playfulness and boldness are easily seen throughout his work.

Ellen Dean has worked as an art educator in Thailand since 2005, working with both children and adults. She has also been a professional artist working in painting, sculpture and photography since 1996.

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