Matisse Inspired Self-portraits

This is the first project that my 6th grade students do. We talk about Henri Matisse, how he was more interested in expression than realism, and how he began creating his paper cut outs.

1. Sketch: I tell the students that the goal of this project is to show a personality trait (athletic, artistic, musical, etc.) In the sketch, I have them think of ideas to show this trait in their background, shirt design and facial expression. We ONLY use cut paper for this project, no pencil lines or marker can show. The results are always great!

2. With one 18" x 24" sheet of skin tone paper, we create the head and neck (the extra is for ears). The students fold the paper in half and cut down the crease. They fold one of the halves in half and cut down that crease. They draw a head on the larger one and a neck on one of the smaller ones.

3. Glue the head and the neck together and then glue them to the background (leave room for the hair!)

4. Add a shirt, start with a basic t-shirt and decorate it. Some students make jerseys, tank tops, leotards, etc.

5. For the eyes, we fold a white paper in half and draw the eye shape. We trace the eye on the eye color paper and draw the iris to fill the shape. We use a hole punch for the pupils. The students have the option of adding eyelids, lashes, eye-black, glasses etc. 

6. For the nose, I tell the students that any shape will work as long as it is a different color than the skin color paper. I draw some example nose shapes on the board.

7.) My advice for the mouth is to cut out all of the pieces (tongue, teeth, lips) before they glue! Use the remaining sheet of skin color for the ears.

8.) For the hair, I have the boys start with a semi-circle that is wider than their heads. They then cut triangles or their hairline out of the shape and add sideburns. They girls start with a gumdrop shape that is wider than their heads and as long as they want their hair to be. I have them cut it in half and then cut it into curved strips. I encourage them to add highlights, hair accessories, hats, etc.

9.) The last step is to decorate the background!