Step One (Introduction): Introduce students to the interior paintings by Matisse, asking students to note any characteristics that stand out. Students should see that there is a lack of depth, a common theme of bright color and pattern, and carefully arranged objects. Allow time for students to discuss why they think Matisse might have painted in such a style. As an exercise, students can close their eyes after viewing a painting and think of words to describe what they remember from each piece. This should help the students understand that Matisse’s primary focus in his paintings was color.
Step Two (Collage): Students will create a collage to serve as a sample for their interior paintings. Distribute magazines (if time is a factor, you may want to provide pre-cut pictures from magazines for students to choose). Students will cut out items for their collages, focusing on objects such as furniture, windows, artwork, decorative items (vases, flowers, bowls, etc.), flooring, wallpaper, curtains, lighting and even a door if desired. You may want to assign students a number of required objects, for example:
- 1 large object (door, window with curtains, couch)
- 3-5 medium objects (small tables, chairs, artwork, small windows, lighting)
- 5-10 small objects (cups, bowls, pillows, flowers, fruit, vases, etc.).
Students should spend some time arranging objects in a pleasing style, so that the eye travels from one area of the painting to another without getting stuck. Remind students that less is more; if they feel that their arrangements are too crowded, they can remove items to simplify the composition.
Students can observe their objects for patterns. If objects do not have patterns on them, students may be encouraged to use markers to draw patterns onto them for visual interest.
Once students feel they have reached their final compositions, they can begin gluing the objects into place. The collages will serve as a guide for paintings.
Special Needs/ Skill Level Note: If you have special needs students, you can give them pre-created collages, on which the students can outline the objects with markers for practice. The collage activity also stands on its own as a good way to teach Matisse’s style without overwhelming students who have less painting and drawing experience.
Step Three (Creating the final paintings): Once collages are complete, students should feel free to begin creating their paintings. Briefly guide students in taping down paper, sketching out compositions and applying paint. To enhance the experience, you may wish to play music, as Matisse’s colorful works were created to inspire joy! Students should be careful to let paint dry if they are layering colors, so the bold, graphic nature of the colors and the patterns stays intact.