Campus FunLab / Language through Art

Learning about space with Matisse

The collage work created by Henri Matisse late in his life is a perfect starting point for a lesson dedicated to negative versus positive space. During our week of Language through Art summer camp during which we explored the masterpieces by Henri Matisse we took the time to go beyond the simple reproduction of a famous masterpiece to introduce the more difficult concept of the use of negative and positive space in art using one of Matisse’s favorite techniques – collaging! In this case, we had the kids draw a leaf on a piece of color card stock and cut it out. When you ask kids to do this, they always draw the shape in the middle of the piece of paper – irregardless of the size of the paper!!! Usually they want to throw away the left over paper but during this lesson they learn to incorporate into their artwork.

Age: 5 to 10 years of age
Word development: postive, negative, space, leaf, rectangle, alternating, bright colors, glue, paint brush, cut, collage

You will need:
Colored card stock
Lamination Glue

Let’s get started:
Step 1: Let the kids pick two contrasting colors of paper to work with. Cut the paper so that you have three smaller rectangles of one of the two colors.

Step 2: Have them draw a leaf in the middle of the a small rectangle. Cut out. Lay the two pieces side by side.

Step 3: Have the kids arrange the alternative positive and negative space pieces on a larger piece of paper. Cover with lamination glue. Let dry.

Now that you have completed the project take a look at some of Matisse’s more famous collage pieces and have the kids point out the negative and positive space examples!!!!! We used “The Knife Thrower” but there are many examples. We had the kids cut out leaves but you can do flowers, hearts – you name it!

Have fun

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