Dear Eagles parents,

This past month, the class has been learning about Henri Matisse. The children have created three pieces inspired by his famous cut outs. I read the Eagles several books about Matisse’s life and art. They seemed particularly fascinated by him and his work. Matisse referred to his cut outs as “drawing with scissors.” He was confined to bed and a wheel chair during the last years of his life. This made it difficult for Matisse to paint. With help from his assistants, (who painted large pieces of paper for him) Matisse cut out geometric and organic shapes and arranged them on large paper. This was Matisse’s way of bringing beauty inside (something he learned from his mother). He was inspired by nature and his past travels. The Eagle’s said Matisse’s artwork made them“feel happy.” They could see flowers, leaves, screws, apples, hearts, a garden, the ocean, snowflakes and people’s faces in his cut outs. The children’s first Matisse inspired project involved painting pieces of paper, and then cutting it into different shapes to make a collage.


Afterwards, we laid the artwork out on the rug to discuss it. I asked the class how they felt when they looked at their work.

William- “Happy. It makes me think of my dog. I would name mine, “Duke,” my doggies name.”

Sophia- “Happy, because they are so beautiful like Matisse did.”

Jamie- “Sad, because the moon is going down on mine.”

Philip- “Good, because it kind of looks like a good collage.”

Stella- “I see a diamond, a half tree and shapes from outside, I feel happy.”

Madeline- “Happy, because I see pink and lots of blue and I like the blue.”

Lauren- “So so happy! Because I like my picture. I like seeing the ocean. It looks like a bird, an ocean and a bench.”

For the next project, the Eagles drew simple faces with black ink, (after seeing that Matisse sometimes drew faces with his cut outs) and then they cut out blue shapes to form designs. Matisse often used only the color blue. The class worked very quietly on these. They concentrated as they were working (I posted a video of them working on these, on Cluster). Several children exclaimed, “I like this project Ms. Amy!” This always puts a smile on my face as that is my ultimate goal. Children learn best when they are interested and engaged in what they are doing.

The final project the Eagles worked on involved geometric and organic shapes. We discussed the sharp edges of geometric shapes and the soft curved edges of organic shapes. We noticed that shapes found in nature are usually organic. Matisse’s cut outs often combined both sharp and soft shapes, which created a beautiful contrast.

The Eagles first applied geometric shapes to their paper. Again, we put their work out on the rug and discussed it.

Lauren- “I feel happy. I see rectangles and mostly squares.”

Philip- “I don’t like the blue because it’s too dark.” (We problem solved if there was a way Philip could change it. At first, friends suggested he re-do it. Then friends suggested that Philip cover up the blue with another color. Philip seemed to like this idea.)

Aarush-“It looks nice. It makes me feel happy because of the colors.”

Stella- “I feel happy because they are beautiful.”

William- “I was thinking about Matisse.”

Jamie- “I see so many colors.”

Sophia- “I like this project Ms. Amy.”

Next, the Eagles cut out organic shapes. I needed to help some of them with this. This takes practice. I showed the class how to move the paper as you cut. The children felt the edges of the paper to see if it was organic or geometric. They glued their shapes over their squares and rectangles. I showed them how Matisse used the negative shapes leftover from his cut outs in his work.

Again, we gathered around their completed art work.

Caleb- “I was thinking of Matisse. It makes me happy because of the green.”

Philip- “I have a lot of organic shapes.”

Jamie- “My picture makes me happy because it’s like Matisse did.”

Stella- “The crown is an organic shape because it’s so beautiful. I love beautiful.”

William- “It makes me happy because of the heart. I was thinking of Matisse’s beautiful garden.”

Madeline- “Mine has three organic shapes. I was thinking of Matisse’s whole garden. I saw a lot of flowers.”

Lauren- “Mine makes me happy because of all the colors.”

This artist study of Matisse was a wonderful introduction to art history. It also gave the class many opportunities to work on their scissor skills. They learned about geometric and organic shapes. They learned that we can all have different interpretations when we look at art as to what we see in it. I encourage you to take your child to see some of Matisse’s work at the SFMOMA, DeYoung or Legion of Honor museum.

Lastly, January Self-Portraits

Aren’t these fabulous!


Please feel free to post comments. I am glad everyone is enjoying Cluster. Until next time.


Ms. Amy