Henri Matisse Art Lesson

In this Henri Matisse Art Lesson, students will learn about the life and art of Henri Matisse, and create a cut out collage inspired by his work.


From the moment I held the box of colors in my hands, I knew this was my life. I threw myself into it like a beast that plunges towards the thing it loves.” – Henri Matisse 1869-1954


Grade Level: 3rd – 5th grade
Time Required: 2 45-min. class periods


National Core Arts Standards
Creating: #1, 2, 3
Presenting/Producing: #5, 6
Responding: #8, 9
Connecting: #11

Faber-Castell Construction Paper
Other colored paper




DRAWING WITH SCISSORS, by Keesia Johnson and Jane O’Connor, illustrated by Jessie Hartland

Drawing With Scissors is an interesting and creatively written story of the life of one of the art world’s greatest masters, Henri Matisse, and his wonderful artistic contribution that had made our culture rich.

After sharing and discussing several examples of Matisse’s famous cut-out collages, students learn his process of “drawing with scissors,” and create their own playful cut-out collage in the same manner.

Henri Matisse Art Lesson

Begin by having students decide on a theme for their project. They can create a simple scene, (this artwork inspired by Matisse’s Garden) or an abstract piece of art. Have them choose a background color and palette of 4 colors along their with tints and shades.

Henri Matisse Art Lesson

Next, demonstrate how Matisse would cut directly into the paper using his “scissors as his pencil.” Show how to cut simple fluid, curvy shapes and spirals, as well as geometric and stylized shapes. Remember, no pencils allowed!

Henri Matisse Art Lesson

Students then arrange their cut pieces onto their background. Demonstrate how to loosely compose their art, overlapping shapes, and being mindful of complimentary color choices. Show how to create an overall visual balance.

Henri Matisse Art Lesson

When compositions are final, glue pieces in place. Show students how to apply glue to the back of the pieces rather than the background. Finally, students trim excess pieces from the edges and give a creative title to their artwork.

We’d love to see your student or child’s artwork!  Tag us on social media #GreatArtStartsHere

To download the Henri Matisse Drawing with Scissors Art Lesson in a PDF file, click here.


Henri Matisse Art Lesson

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