Painting with Scissors – Exploring Matisse Cutouts

by Meghan

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Today, we continue our Exploring Art History with Preschoolers series, sharing the first preschool reproduction using one of the masters’ techniques: Matisse Cutouts!

Exploring Matisse Cutouts - Painting with Scissors

Painting with Scissors – Exploring Matisse Cutouts

This represents a number of firsts for us: the first Kids Activity in our Exploring Art History with Preschoolers series AND the first Kids Activity we actually made in our new house!  This summer has been rough – our current house is on the market, which means we are frequently forced to vacate the premises for hours at a time for showings (and to keep the place clean before the showing) and open houses.  Fortunately, our new house is almost complete, and we have started moving things in, so we have somewhere to go hangout now at least, even if there’s still little to no furniture!

Today, I planned this simple activity to explore Matisse cutouts.  First, we read Henri’s Scissors by Jeanette Winter.  This is one of the many books we discovered at the library, perfect for introducing great artists, like Henri Matisse, to preschool artists.

Henri's Scissors - Exploring Matisse Cutouts

The book tells the story of Matisse and the ups and downs he experienced throughout his career.  Matisse began painting as a young man while recovering from appendicitis.  As an old man, after being bedridden again from illness, he wasn’t sure he would ever paint again.  Thus began the famous cutout stage of his career.

Recreating Matisse Cutouts

It doesn’t get much more basic than the supplies needed for this art reproduction!


Cardstock or construction paper, assorted colors
White paper
Glue stick

Cost: Free to Less than $5
Prep Time: Less than 5 minutes
Clean-up Time: Less than 5 minutes

The book alone provides great examples of Matisse’s work for inspiration, but for some complete examples of his works, we also checked out a few on my iPad:

The Parakeet and the Mermaid

The Fall of Icarus

The Codomas

Panel with Mask

The Sheaf

The Snail

I let Big M pick out the colors of cardstock she wanted to use for cutting shapes.  Leave it to the preschooler to choose colors as vibrant as Matisse!  She’s still working on scissor skills, so this was great practice for her.  She cut mostly squares and strips, while I helped cutting some more Matisse-esque shapes free-handed.

Exploring Matisse Cutouts - Preschool Scissor Practice

With our shapes cut out, I let her take over with the glue stick.  At first, she wanted more paper so the shapes didn’t overlap, but after revisiting some of Matisse’s works, she was convinced to let the shapes touch!

Painting with Scissors - Gluing Matisse Cutouts

 And voila!  Our first piece of art inspired by one of the Masters’ techniques…

Painting with Scissors - Matisse Cutouts

If you enjoyed this post, you can find all our Exploring Art History with Preschoolers posts here and on our Art for Kids board on Pinterest!

Coming up next… re-creating one of Matisse’s oil paintings, Goldfish, with basic shapes!

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Mary Wright August 13, 2015 - 1:48 pm

I love your Art series…..definitely using these ideas in my kindergarten classroom this year. Even kindergarteners need practice with scissors. Cant wait for “Painting with scissors” activity!

Mer Mer

PGPBMeghan August 13, 2015 - 8:50 pm

Thanks Mom! Can’t wait to see what your kids make…

Emma August 13, 2015 - 7:57 am

Love this idea! “Painting with scissors” is such a fun way to put it, too!

PGPBMeghan August 13, 2015 - 9:20 am

I can’t take credit for that one – that’s what Matisse himself called it!


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