Z718.3 → March Break Program: Little Artists

Henri Matisse children's art program

Ever since I was first hired in this job, I knew this day was coming. Yes, that's right: the day I ran a program that didn't have caregiver/adult accompaniment. A little bit terrifying and nerve-wracking, to be sure. Right away though, when the call went out for March Break program ideas, I knew I wanted to do one that took influence from an artist. My background in art history and my overall love for making any kind of art at all was what drove me to creating this program. Before all that though, I had to narrow down my ideas. It is, I found out, very easy to translate famous artists and their styles to children's art programs. From Picasso to Warhol and everyone in between, my mind was bouncing everywhere with ideas.
Matisse, La Gerbe, 1953
I settled on one of my favourite artists: Henri Matisse. I thought his long career, significant changes in styles, and especially his use of bright colours would be most appealing to children. Particularly with his late career output of paper cut-out collages (as seen above; Matisse's 'La Gerbe,' 1953), which I thought would be easy to transfer to the 5-9 age group. There are a ton of resources out there covering this type of art project, so here are just a few that I looked at and considered:
I was particularly focused on teaching the children about Matisse and the different way he created his collages - especially using the ideas of positive/negative space and geometric and organic shapes to do so. What follows is my plan outline for the 1-hour session I had on a Saturday morning.

  • construction paper of various, bright colours
  • glue
  • scissors
  • bristol board
The Plan:
Intro/Arrival [10 minutes max] I began by having some colouring sheets out for the children to colour as they arrived. I did a basic search on Google to get some outlines of Matisse's work and used those as the colouring sheets.

Book [5 minutes] Henri's scissors / Jeanette Winter
I thought this was a great book to read to the kids -- it was simple enough for the young ones to understand, and it also provided a great little biography of Matisse and why he turned to creating collages late in his life. It was a little simple for the 9 year-olds, but I felt it was a necessary sacrifice to make since it had the biographical context.

Activity [45 minutes] I introduced the collage activity and explained that the children could use the pre-cut shapes (especially the 5-6 year olds) or cut out their own from construction paper. The rest of the hour was devoted to helping the children cut and/or glue things, or giving advice to some of the older children on placement and design. 

How'd It Go?
Overall, it went really great! The children loved the process of creating the collage and I'm glad that I pre-cut some shapes for them as some preferred to have perfectly circular circles and the like. One thing I was really surprised about was some of the children's interest in Matisse as a person and an artist. Going into this program, I thought they would be much more interested in creating the art itself and forget all about the original artist - but I printed out some examples of his work and some of the children appreciated referring back to the kinds of colours he used in them. The piece that got the best reaction from the kids was Matisse's The Dessert: Harmony in Red -- otherwise known as The Red Room - there were some great "ooohs" and "ahhhs" from holding up that picture.

Templates: Below I've posted some of the templates I created for the organic shapes. I tried to do a similar "leafy" look as Matisse did, but the others are simple squiggles and swirls of the pen with whatever came to mind in that instant. Feel free to use these for your own Matisse program, but do not repost them elsewhere - you may link back to this page, however.

The top photograph in this blog post was taken by the user Huseyin on Flickr, used in accordance with the Creative Commons agreement with no changes or alterations made to the original content. Image of Matisse's work from here. All other photographs by blog author.

No comments:

Post a Comment