Mini Museum/Project No. 2: Matisse Fauvist Portraits

While looking for ideas for the second Mini Museum project I stumbled across these Fauvist portraits by Matisse.

 

The bright colors and thick brushstrokes I thought would be fun and freeing to paint. And so it was - but it was also daunting, particularly for me and my ten year old. We tend to be careful pencil drawers compared to my six year old, who paints with such wild abandon. Here are some brief pointers on Fauvism + the supplies and steps we used to paint our Fauvist portraits:

ABOUT HENRI MATISSE:

  • Henri Matisse was born in France in 1869

  • Matisse studied to be a lawyer and did not began painting until age 21

  • Matisse was the leader of the French Movement, Fauvism

  • Matisse works were made with bold colors, strong brushwork, lines, and emotional power

  • Matisse and Picasso met in 1905. They were lifelong friends and rivals

  • Matisse wanted his art to be one "of balance, or purity and serenity devoid of troubling or depressive subject matter"

  • In the later years, when Matisse was bedridden, he worked on collages

  • Matisse died in 1954 at the age of 84

ABOUT FAUVISM:

  • A brief movement from 1900 - 1909 lead by Henri Matisse

  • Fauvist painters used vibrant, contrasting, unnatural color. Colors expressed emotions or reaction to their subject

  • Subjects were portraits, landscapes, and still life

  • Fauvists used short thick brushstrokes and controlled lines

  • Fauvists rejected 3 dimensional space

  • Fauvism comes from the French word "Les Fauves" or Wild Beast

SUPPLIES:

  1. Construction Paper/White - We used Tru-Ray Construction Paper in White

  2. Tempera Paint - We used Dick Blick's Premium and Student Tempera Paint

  3. Brushes - Flat/Large Round/Small Round

  4. Paint palette - We used an old muffin tin

STEP ONE: SKETCH YOUR PORTRAIT

  1. Snap a photo or print out a portrait to use as a guide

  2. Do a line drawing of the portrait. These lines will be painted over and do not need to be perfect. They are only guidelines

  3. Start with the shape of the face. My 6 year old has a round face with a square jaw which she tried to capture

  4. Determine the placement of your eyes and work downward to your nose and mouth

  5. As my 6 year old drew, we talked about her features - she has large eyes, a small nose, lines under her eyes, round cheeks, etc.

STEP TWO: PAINT OVER THE PENCIL WITH BLACK TEMPERA PAINT

  1. We used a #4 round brush and slightly watered down black tempera paint

  2. Like the pencil lines, these do not need to be perfect. They are only guidelines for filling in the color. Once the color is added, you will go over the lines again with black or a dark color.

STEP THREE: ADD WILD EXPRESSIVE COLOR

This step is where we had to take a leap of faith and just go with it.

  1. Start by adding the lighter colors. Determine where the light should hit the face. This is where the lighter colors go.

  2. Remind your painters of the characteristics of a fauvist painting:

  3. Use bold short strokes

  4. Use complimentary colors next to each other to create excitement (red/green - blue/orange - yellow/purple)

  5. Use wild colors to paint the emotions not the natural colors

  6. Remind your painters to keep moving forward until the end. An unwanted blob of color can always be painted over once dry.

STEP FOUR: ALLOW THE PAINT TO DRY, THEN REPAINT IN THE BLACK LINES

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