Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Matisse Goldfish Bowls

Part of my school's curriculum is the expectation that I teach young students to emulate a famous artwork. I have conflicted feelings about this requirement. On the one hand, parents love these projects and as such, the projects garner a lot of attention for the art department and lead to general good feelings about my abilities as an art educator. On the other hand, parents seem to sometimes think that these emulations are the only things that are art, and that garners the wrong kind of attention for my art department, and whether or not they turn out well is hardly a good measuring stick for my teaching abilities.

Ultimately, I think I find emulation projects to be more positive than negative because at least the child is learning about an artist and a specific style. . . And, well, I let them deviate in pretty much any way they want.

We did Matisse Goldfish Bowls in 1st grade this year. Our steps were thus:
1. Discuss art and artist
2. sketch as a class in crayon
3. color key elements in crayon (no fish yet)
4. paint key elements in tempera paint (no fish yet)
5. paint background with black tempera paint (no fish yet)
6. Draw fish on yellow paper and color with orange and red crayons.
7. cut out fish
8. glue fish into fishbowl
9. add orange glitter glue with paintbrushes for iridescent fish scale look
10. use oil pastel to make detail areas pop!
11. finished pieces are 12 in x 18 in


  1. I concur!

    I always struggle with the whole emulate artist thing. Sometimes I try to just find how that artist works or why and then use that as the motivation. Like Matisse=bright bold colors, patterns, collage, still life etc

    if that makes any sense.

    They do look great. I tried buying fish for the first few years of this project and it always ended in the fishes demise. Someone threw a dirty erasure in the bowl last year and the fish ended up with a pop-eye. We gave him antibiotics but he left us before his time. I won't think twice about pictures and posters for this project now!

  2. oh that is a hard one...I try to alternate each lesson, one based on a "masterwork" as they call it in my district and one based on a art material and more of our imagination. I will say the kids do love a lot of our masterwork projects like the Paul Klee castles and silly Picasso faces. We also love our Matisse goldfish and just like Erica after two years of killing our live models I have started using rubber goldfish:)