Students will recognize the difference between a “realistic” piece of art and an “abstract” piece of art.
Students will recognize the cutout work of Henri Matisse.
Students will create an abstract collage that contains a pattern.

The lesson will begin with the students seated on the “carpet area”. The students will be given a brief history of Henri Matisse. The students will be told that due to illness and age he became unable to paint, so he began experimenting with cutouts using bright colors and unusual shapes. The students will be told that these works are called “collages”, which means that shapes were cut and stuck to a background to create a picture. The students will then be introduced to what “abstract” means. They will be told that although Mr. Matisse painted realistic pictures early in his career, his pictures gradually became more “abstract”, meaning that they did not look exactly like real life. The students will also be told that although his collages were very abstract, recognizable objects can be found by looking closely. The students will then be shown examples of Matisse’s work and we will discuss the shapes that students see. The students will be told the title of each work and asked if they find any of the objects in the picture (for example, “The Beasts of the Sea”). Students will also be asked if they see any repeated patterns throughout the pictures. The students will then be introduced to the activity. The students will be told that they are going to make an abstract collage using some of Mr. Matisse’s ideas. The students will then be directed to return to their seats. I will first demonstrate how to cut an interesting abstract shape by starting at the bottom of a piece of construction paper and cutting up and around in order to eventually return to the bottom of the piece. Each child will then receive 2 pieces of 6 x 9″ construction paper. The children will be told that they will be using all of the paper. I will then guide the students in cutting an abstract shape. The end result should result in a “cutout” (or “positive”) shape, and a “leftover” (or “negative”) shape, both of which are from one piece. The students will then be told to glue one of their negative shapes in a top corner of their background paper, lining up the edges as neatly as possible. The students will then be shown how to reposition the positive shape within the negative shape (it should fit together like a puzzle). Next, the positive shape will be flipped down beneath the negative one and glued into place, creating a mirror-image effect. The students will then be given the opportunity to glue various shapes around the images as they prefer. The students will be encouraged to add shapes that repeat. The students will be shown an example and asked to notice how the picture is “balanced” by the surrounding shapes. The students will be told that Matisse sometimes used small repeating shapes, or patterns, to create a pathway for our eyes. Students will be given about 15-20 minutes to work on their art. The students will then be brought back to the carpet area. We will briefly review the new concepts. The students will then be asked to share what shapes and patterns they used throughout their artwork.


White drawing paper, scissors, glue, 4.5 x 6″ construction paper in various colors, various examples of Matisse’s work.

Students will be assessed according to their participation in the group discussion as well as their completion of an abstract piece of artwork that contains a pattern.