This assignment gave me a chance to tell stories about the life of Henri Matisse and explain the concept of "painting with scissors." Students were told to use geometric shapes in the background and organic shapes in the foreground. I love explaining things in pairs of opposites: geometric and organic, background and foreground. For the children who were able to use modified scissors, they were encouraged to create their own shapes, but I had piles of pre-cut shapes for the ones who aren't to that point.
Watercolor Resist Still Life
We used the design element of shape to talk about how to depict still life objects. This time the medium was oil pastel and watercolor. This student used circles to create a bowl of apples.
Stamping Animal Shapes
For this assignment we used repetition of shapes to create unity. It was fun passing sponges around and having students guess the animal shape of each.
Barnett Newman Line Painting
In case you hadn't heard, a Newman painting of a blue line, entitled Onement VI, sold for almost $44 million at a Sotheby's auction last year. That piece of news was a fun way to discuss the value of line and introduce minimalism to first and second graders. Rubber bands stretched around paper and cardboard acted as stencils for students to create their own straight line paintings. It wasn't my favorite project, but it has potential so I may try it again one year with modifications.