Painting With Scissors

Henri Matisse, who was born in 1869, was an immensely talented french artist who worked as a draughtsman, printmaker, sculptor and painter. He is considered by many to be the most important french painter of the 20th century. During the latter part of his life, his health deteriorated, often leaving him bedridden or forced to use a wheelchair. As a result of these constraints, Matisse explored new ways of expressing himself and began to make large scale cut paper collages. They allowed him to show off his incredible sense of colour, and remain among the most influential works of his career. He referred to his experimentation with cut outs as “painting with scissors”, and covered the walls of his room with them, transforming his environment into “a little garden where I can walk.”

If you’re in need of some playful ideas to decorate your child’s room, why not consider colourful paper cut outs to brighten up a wall, or create a unique looking border. All you need is an inviting pile of construction paper, scissors, and some enthusiastic children to create an explosion of colourful, organic shapes.


  • construction paper in a variety of colours
  • scissors
  • pencil and eraser
  • sticky tack


Have children look at some of Matisse’s cut outs by doing a search on the internet or looking at the following sites:

Detroit Institute of Arts

Matisse Museum

Museum of Modern Art

This book is also a great resource:

Jazz by Henri Matisse

Younger children will enjoy this humourous hommage to Picasso and Matisse:

When Pigasso Met Mootisse by Nina Laden

1. Have children sketch some Matisse inspired organic shapes on scrap paper to see what they like. Using colourful construction paper, have them either first draw the shapes, or go ahead and cut them free hand. Cutting the shapes out will provide younger children with a great opportunity to practice their cutting skills.

2. The shapes can now be applied to a wall in a variety of groupings and patterns. Lay them out on the floor first to determine the layout, before attaching them to the wall. Sticky tack is a great way to attach them, and to ensure you don’t damage your wall or leave marks when it’s time for them to come down.


Leave a comment

Filed under Artists, Henri Matisse, paper crafts

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s