Henri Matisse Fishbowls


 I plucked and revamped this lesson from my “student teaching days” archive. Henri Matisse is a classroom table and has ALWAYS been one of my favorite artists. I love teaching students about his use of color, pattern, collage, and organic shapes. In 2nd grade art, students learn some basic information about Henri Matisse and create small-scale collages using construction paper and scissors. In this lesson, students expanded their knowledge on this fabulous artist and constructed fishbowls and rooms inspired by one of his most famous paintings. 0789204754.interior02

This is one of my longer lessons and was able to get all of the steps done in 3-4 days.  There are many layers and mini-lessons that make up the finished mixed-media product. I started off by teaching 3rd graders how to draw a cylinder and turn it into a fishbowl.  Together, we followed the following steps and drew our fishbowls on small sheets of watercolor paper.

stepsIn step 5, I had to stress that fish were BIG, filled the fishbowl, and were going in all different directions. Sometimes children like to draw their objects in a neat little side-by-side row. I explained that this was not a school of fish and that someone had just sprinkled fish food into the top of the bowl… so the fish should be going haywire!

When these drawings were complete, I demonstrated “wet-on-wet” watercolor painting and set students free to paint in their tanks. Students know that if they wet their watercolor FIRST, they know that the color will spread like magic when paint touches it. Instead of going straight for the clear blues (that are normally associated with water) we examined Matisse’s composition and pulled from yellows, greens, and browns. Dirtier fish bowl water!PicMonkey Collage12
3And some of these fish had such interesting facial expressions! Haha 🙂abafishiesfish1We placed our lovely finished watercolor fishbowls into the rack to dry over the next week. For the next step in this project, we shifted gears and started our backgrounds. Students received large sheets of watercolor paper and drew lines to form a basic room.


Each table then received a plate of the three primary colors (red, blue, and yellow) and a mixing sheet.  They also received black and white for mixing tints, tones, and shades. We reviewed basic color chemistry and each 3rd grader filled in his/her walls and floor with 3 distinct colors.

a b c


We let these dry in the drying racks until next week. On our third day of class, 3rd graders cut out their fishbowls and glued them in the middle of their dried backgrounds.  They created tables by drawing ovals around their fishbowls, adding legs, and coloring in with oil pastels. 77 fish3tables2


After the tables were added, students began using oil pastels to create Matisse-inspired wallpaper around their rooms. I loved seeing the designs, patterns, and colors they used! Imaginations were running wild.roses44

2255PicMonkey Collage388For our final touches, students outlined some details in their fish tank with fine line marker and cut out paper leaves to collage on. Of course, these kids even got creative with leaf shapes!

PicMonkey Collage2dear99ellacharavaavad

Check out some finished pieces!

kidshankmonetPicMonkey Collage4mattate10374515_10100281644269601_3178581712313953553_n1422427_10100281644239661_1723200888387158559_n10731166_10100281644224691_6998619259456875205_n10710801_10100281644194751_285756222247879415_n1384138_10100281644164811_4154509569653437612_n10440789_10100281644144851_8019419226816823445_n10514536_10100281644119901_5193745327574023835_n

I love them all! Hard work pays off!

Have a wonderful weekend!

-Mrs. Heinlein

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