Fauvist Painting Activity

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Updated on Jul 24, 2014

Fauvism, which means “Wild Beast”, was a French art movement that lasted from 1904–1908 and encouraged wildly expressive brushwork and vivid colors. Fauvist painters were famous for their surreal landscapes filled with vibrant colors. Let your child's wild creativity come out on paper. This activity is a wonderful experiment in color and freedom of expression.

What You Need:

  • White paper, 8.5” x 11”
  • Watercolor paper, 8.5” x 11”
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Tempera paint
  • Paintbrushes

What You Do:

  1. Show your child some images of Fauvist artwork which can be found on the Internet. Discuss the colors that the Fauves used, which included bright pinks, oranges and blues. Note how the painters usually did not paint the sky blue or trees green.
  2. Have your child draw a grid using a pencil and ruler to make 10–20 small squares for thumbnail sketches. She may need your help with this part.
  3. In each square, have her draw a quick thumbnail sketch, trying a variety of compositions. These tiny drawings in pencil are simple ideas of how she may want her landscape composition to look on the final painting. They are jotted down quickly, no more than 10 minutes for all sketches. Landscape sketches can be inspired by anything from outer space to the neighborhood park, farms, cities or other planets.
  4. Have her choose her favorite thumbnail sketch. Help her transfer what she sees in her sketch onto the watercolor paper lightly using pencil, filling in the entire page.
  5. Paint in the landscape with bright colors!
  6. Allow the painting to dry.
  7. Tidy up the final painting by having her go back in with a tiny paintbrush and black paint to create thin outlines around each object in the painting.
  8. Now that her wild inner color beast is unleashed, she can paint another one of her thumbnail sketches!

Fun Fact: The Fauvist movement was noted for its very painterly qualities and intense vibrant colors. The art movement was heavily influenced by the Impressionists. Paul Gaugain and Paul Cezanne, both Impressionist artists, are considered the forefathers of the Fauvist movement.

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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