20 Matisse Art Project for Kids

Henri Matisse, the renowned French artist, is a giant in the art world. Famous for his vibrant colors, playful shapes, and innovative techniques, Matisse’s work is a wellspring of inspiration for artists of all ages, especially kids!

His art celebrates joy, creativity, and the power of imagination, making him a perfect artist to introduce children to the world of art.

This collection of 20 Matisse-inspired art projects caters to a variety of ages and skill levels, allowing young learners to explore their creativity and develop artistic confidence.

So, gather your supplies, unleash your inner artist, and get ready to be amazed by the colorful creations your little Matisses will produce!

Let’s Get Started: A Crash Course in Matisse

Before diving into the projects, take a few minutes to introduce your child to Henri Matisse. There are many child-friendly books available, like “Henri’s Scissors” by Jeanette Winter, which narrates the story of Matisse’s later years when he created stunning cut-paper collages due to illness.

You can also show them pictures of some of his famous works, like “The Dance” or “Goldfish.” Talk about the bright colors, the interesting shapes, and how Matisse used them to create a happy and energetic mood.

A Note on Materials:

Most of these projects require basic art supplies that you might already have at home. Here’s a general list to get you started:

  • Construction paper in various colors
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Markers, crayons, or colored pencils
  • Tempera paints or acrylic paints (depending on the project)
  • Paintbrushes
  • White cardstock or canvas board (optional)
  • Recycled materials like cardboard boxes, buttons, or yarn (for some projects)

The Projects!

Paper Plate Play:

This is a simple and fun activity for toddlers and preschoolers. Paint a paper plate a solid color. Once dry, cut out various shapes from construction paper and let your child decorate the plate by sticking on the shapes.

Matisse’s Jungle:

Turn your living room floor into a mini-jungle! Cut out large animal shapes from green construction paper and let your child decorate them with vibrant stripes, dots, and swirls using markers or paint. Hang the finished animals on the wall for a vibrant jungle scene.

Dancing with Matisse:

Inspired by “The Dance,” this project explores movement and rhythm. Cut out large human silhouettes from white paper. Let your child decorate them with flowing lines, circles, and other shapes in bold colors.

Fishy Fun:

Create a vibrant underwater scene! Paint a large sheet of paper blue to represent the ocean. Cut out various fish shapes from construction paper in different colors. Let your child decorate the fish with scales and fins using markers or paint. Stick the fish onto the blue background and add seaweed made from green construction paper strips.

Snail Mail Surprise:

Transform a plain envelope into a work of art! Decorate the envelope with shapes and patterns inspired by Matisse. This makes sending a letter or card extra special.

Matisse Mobiles:

Mobiles are mesmerizing for children. Cut out various shapes from construction paper. Decorate them with patterns and designs. Punch a hole in each shape and string them together with yarn or thread to create a beautiful and mobile that dances in the breeze.

Playful Portraits:

This project puts a twist on traditional portraits. Cut out a large face silhouette from white paper. Let your child create the facial features (eyes, nose, mouth) using different shapes and colors inspired by Matisse.

Button Bonanza:

Give recycled buttons a new life! Paint a piece of cardboard or cardstock a solid color. Glue buttons of different sizes and colors onto the cardboard to create a textured and colorful masterpiece.

Matisse in the Mirror:

This activity is a fun way to explore symmetry. Fold a piece of paper in half and have your child draw half of a face (one eye, half a nose, etc.) on one side of the fold. Open the paper to reveal a complete, symmetrical face! Decorate the face with bold colors and patterns.

Shape Cityscapes:

Turn construction paper into a vibrant city! Cut out squares, rectangles, triangles, and other geometric shapes from construction paper. Let your child arrange and glue the shapes onto a piece of cardstock to create a colorful cityscape.

Pattern Play:

Matisse loved using patterns in his artwork. Encourage your child to explore patterns by drawing repetitive shapes or lines on a piece of paper. Experiment with different colors and sizes to create a mesmerizing pattern.

Yarn Yarn Hooray!

This project adds a textural element to your Matisse-inspired creations. Paint a piece of cardstock a solid color. Let your child wrap colorful yarn around the cardstock in different directions, creating a web-like pattern. Secure the yarn ends with tape on the backside of the cardstock.

Dancing Flowers:

Flowers are a common theme in Matisse’s work. Cut out large flower shapes from construction paper in various colors. Let your child decorate the flowers with swirling lines, dots, and other playful patterns.

Stencil Stories:

Stencils are a great way to introduce children to positive and negative space. Cut out various shapes from construction paper. Place the stencil on a piece of paper and use a paintbrush to “paint” around the stencil, creating a cool design. Repeat with different stencils and colors.

Matisse Murals:

Feeling ambitious? Create a collaborative art project! Tape large sheets of butcher paper together to create a giant canvas. Work together as a family to paint a mural inspired by Matisse. Use bold colors, large shapes, and playful patterns.

Texture Time:

This project incorporates different textures into your artwork. Paint a piece of cardboard or cardstock a solid color. Let your child glue on various textured materials like buttons, fabric scraps, or dried pasta to create a tactile and visually interesting piece.

Dreamy Landscapes:

Matisse wasn’t limited to figures and objects. Let your child create their own dream landscape inspired by Matisse. Paint a large sheet of paper with a gradient wash of different colors to represent the sky and land. Then, add details like trees, houses, or animals using cut-out paper shapes or paint.

The Art of Observation:

Matisse was inspired by the world around him. Take a nature walk and collect some leaves, flowers, or interesting rocks. Come back home and use them as inspiration for a still life painting. Focus on using bold colors and simplified shapes.

Matisse Mailbox Makeover:

Give your mailbox a makeover! Clean the mailbox and paint it a solid color. Once dry, let your child decorate it with shapes and patterns inspired by Matisse. This will add a pop of color to your curb appeal and brighten everyone’s day.

The Joy of Exploration

Remember, there are no right or wrong ways to do art! These projects are just a starting point to spark your child’s creativity. Encourage them to experiment with different materials, colors, and techniques. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the process of creating together.

Taking it Further:

  • Visit a museum or art gallery to see original works by Matisse (if possible).
  • Watch a short video about Matisse’s life and work online.
  • Read other children’s books about famous artists.
  • Encourage your child to keep an art journal where they can sketch, write about their inspirations, and document their artistic journey.

By introducing children to the art of Henri Matisse, you’re not just teaching them about art history, you’re nurturing their creativity, imagination, and sense of self-expression. So, grab your art supplies, unleash your inner Matisse, and get ready to be amazed by the vibrant masterpieces your little artists create!

Sohaib Hasan Shah

Sohaib's journey includes 10+ years of teaching and counseling experience at BCSS School in elementary and middle schools, coupled with a BBA (Hons) with a minor in Educational Psychology from Curtin University (Australia) . In his free time, he cherishes quality moments with his family, reveling in the joys and challenges of parenthood. His three daughters have not only enriched his personal life but also deepened his understanding of the importance of effective education and communication, spurring him to make a meaningful impact in the world of education.

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