How to Make a Garden Collage With Your Kids: Matisse-Inspired
Do the shapes and colors in nature inspire you to be creative?
Bring your outdoor inspirations inside and create an imaginative paper garden collage with your kids.
In this article I’ll introduce you to Henri Matisse and show you how to use his “painting with scissors” technique to create a garden collage made from paper cutouts that’s inspired by the real gardens you see outdoors.
Why Paint With Scissors?
When creating art, it’s important to use all of the tools and materials available to you and explore your creativity in as many ways as possible.
To “paint with scissors,” a phrase coined by artist Henri Matisse, you cut out shapes, place them into a unique design and then glue them on paper. It may sound simple, but it’s a lot of fun. And the possibilities of what you can create are endless.
Try painting with scissors with your kids and see what you can create!
Henri Matisse, a revolutionary and influential artist in the 20th century, developed the concept of painting with scissors.
Matisse is best known for his expressive work using bold, bright colors. (Artwork courtesy of WikiPaintings.)
Later in Matisse’s life, he fell ill and painting became more difficult for him. Matisse began to explore colors and shapes with paper cutouts (or in French: gouaches découpés). This began a new phase in his art career.
Watch Matisse at work with his scissors in this video.
Watch Henri Matisse paint with scissors in this video.
Since Matisse could not easily go outside, he brought the outside indoors. He painted with scissors and created paper gardens.
Before you jump into this adventure, look at the background, paintings and video of Matisse with your kids. You may even want to do an additional Internet search or take a trip to the library to get some books with more of his work.
“My choice of colors does not rest on any scientific theory; it is based on observation, on sensitivity, on felt experience.” —Henri Matisse
Matisse based his work on his own observations and experiences. Now let’s take yours and bring them to life!
Are you ready to paint with scissors?
Ready to paint with scissors and make your own garden collage? Let’s get started!
#1: Find Your Inspiration
Spend time outdoors with your kids and observe nature. Look at the trees, flowers, grass and ponds. Also look at birds, squirrels and other living creatures. You may even find a unique bird feeder or cozy bench to include.
Here are a few places where you can go to look around and get inspired:
#2: Document Your Exploration With Photos
As you explore the outdoors, take lots of photos. You can use them later as inspiration when you paint with scissors.
Notice all the colors, shapes and lines that you find outdoors. Take notes, if you want.
Discuss the experience with your kids—share your observations and ask your kids about theirs.
Enjoy your time outside as a family and have fun!
#3: Plan Your Painting
Look through your photos together and find the ones that inspire you and your kids the most.
If you have more than one child, you may want to create individual gardens. Or you can create a large family paper garden, and have everyone (parents and kids) choose at least one photo for inspiration.
As you select the photos, reminisce about the time you spent outside.
Decide which elements—shapes, sizes and colors—you’d like to include in your paper garden collage.
#4: Paint With Scissors
Once you choose the photos, gather the craft supplies you need for your paper garden.
First, look at the photos for inspiration and cut out large paper shapes based on them.
Help the younger ones with the cutting, if necessary. Note: Another way to make this step a bit easier is to help younger kids lightly draw their shapes in pencil first and then cut them out.
Cut out all of the shapes—large and small, straight and crooked, realistic and abstract—and then arrange them on paper.
We’ll glue them all down later.
Variation: Matisse had his assistants paint the pieces of paper before he cut them out. You can try that too. Just wait for the paint to dry before cutting.
#5: Arrange and Glue Your Cutouts
Next, arrange the cutouts into a composition (placement or arrangement of visual elements) that’s pleasing. Again, you can work on a large paper garden as a family or each make one of your own.
Keep moving the cut elements around on the background paper until you find an overall design you like.
You may want to cut some new elements to add to it. And you may decide not to use some of the pieces you already cut.
Once you’re pleased with your arrangement, glue the pieces in place. Note: A glue stick will dry faster and prevent wrinkling and curling that white glue may cause.
#6: Add the Finishing Touches
Once you finish gluing the pieces in place, you may want to add a few details with a black pen. Remember to include the artist’s signature and date.
Parents, did you paint with scissors also? Remember to sign your pictures too.
Sharing creative projects with your child is a fantastic way to connect as a family, both in the prep work (the outdoor adventure designed to inspire) and the activity. Turn one fun afternoon outside into another creative adventure inside.
Some Final Thoughts…
I hope you and your family enjoyed painting with scissors, just like Henri Matisse. You now have a large piece of art, or a few small ones, inspired by your family’s outdoor experiences and observations.
Every piece of art is unique. Each person brings individual experiences, senses and observations to his or her art. And when you collaborate as a family, it’s even more fun!
What do you think? Did you enjoy learning about the art of Henri Matisse? Did you paint with scissors and create a paper garden collage? Did you and your kids make a different type of design altogether? I’d love to see your artwork. Please share it below!
Crystal Foth is a mom and artist based in Los Angeles, CA. She manages 19 Southern California art studios and spends her free time enjoying creative adventures with her daughter. Other posts by Crystal Foth »