I'm an artist from NYC living in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I've been making art since 1994, and I've taught art to kids and adults for 8 years.
Painting With Paper: Matisse for Kids
Who doesn't love flowers? Or at least making them? This is a beautiful project that parents love to hang up. Its great for Mother's or Father's Day, or for celebrating springtime.
When I teach this project to my classroom, I oftentimes show images of Matisse ahead of time, just to get the kids inspired to create art using paper instead of paint. This is also a great project for kids to start learning patterns and the rhythm of colors. It is probably also helpful to show images of flowers before starting so they can develop an idea of all the colors and shapes that can be found in the wild.
Materials for the Bouquet of Paper Flowers
- A sheet of thick white paper, 11" x 17" at least
- Flesh-colored paper for the arm and hand
- Variety of green paper for the stems and leaves
- Variety of brightly colored papers for the flowers (I recommend a pack of paper like this one.)
- A pencil
- Glue stick
- Plastic or newspaper to protect the furniture (optional)
How to Assemble It
- If you're using nice furniture to make your project on, cover it with plastic or newspaper before you begin.
- Using the flesh-colored paper, trace your arm and hand. You may need a friend to help you with this.
- Place your white paper in a vertical/portrait orientation.
- Cut out the tracing of your hand and arm, and lay it across the bottom of the white paper. Match the end of the arm with the edge of the paper and cut off any part of the flesh-colored paper that hangs over.
- Anchor just the ARM part of the flesh-colored paper, keep the hand/fingers free from glue at this point.
- Make long stems out of the green papers—thick and thin. You can tear them or cut them.
- Make various leaf shapes out of the green papers—big and small, long and thin, round and fat.
- Lay the stems into the "fingers" of the hand. Make sure some of them overlap the thumb but go under the fingers (see the image above for an example).
- Carefully begin gluing down the thumb and the stems from the bottom up. Do NOT glue the tops of the stems yet.
- If your hand needs to look more realistic as if it's "holding" the flowers, you can either fold the fingers under and glue them, or cut the fingers off to give the effect of bent fingers.
- Glue the fingers down.
- Place your leaves throughout your stems and glue them down
- Tear or rip (we did both for the example) colored paper into the shapes of petals and bulbs.
- Glue down the petals and bulbs. As you do this, figure out if you need to make any of your stems shorter, or have them overlap some of the other flowers to make the picture more interesting.
Tips From My Class
We really liked some random petals falling from the flowers; it gave it a more organic feel. Also, the overlapping of leaves, petals, and stems made it seem messy and more wild and fun. I also like overlapping colors within a flower—so if a tulip is red and cut out by scissors, I like hand ripping yellow details and gluing those on top. (This may be easier to do with older kids!)
How to Clean Up
Use a damp cloth with mild detergent to clean up any excess glue.
Enjoy Your Bouquet of Art!
And, remember: Art is a practice. The more you do it, the better you get!
Lindsey Roberts on March 30, 2012:
I was searching for a quality art project to do with my 2nd grade class. I love this and just got all the materials ready for them to do later today. Thanks for posting :)
Laura Spector (author) from Chiang Mai, Thailand on July 17, 2009:
Gypsy Willow - I'm so happy you like it. I would love to hear how it turns out - please let me know!
Gypsy Willow from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand on July 17, 2009:
What a beautiful project, my grandson and I will try it today, thanks!