Wednesday, March 6, 2013


First Grade Art Lesson
2 Days

Icarus, First Grade Art Lesson

About the Artist:
Henri Matisse lived from 1869 to 1954. He is a French artist who is best known for his bright, joyful paper collages in simple shapes. He is considered a leader of an art style known as Post Impressionism. It is also, sometimes called Fauvism which means "wild beast" in French, due to the painting style being so wild and expressive.

Matisse loved simple contrasting colors and believed that they could tell stories. For instance, Matisse used blue to show truth or heaven, orange to show love or greatness, red to show excitement or fire, and green to show growth or change. Part of the enjoyment of looking at the work of Matisse is trying to understand what stories he was telling through his art.

Artist Henri Matisse

Students examined Matisse's masterpiece Icarus. Icarus is based on a Greek story. 

Icarus and his father were held prisoner on an island of Crete.  His father built wings made from feathers and wax to help them escape from the island. Before they took off the island his father warned Icarus not to fly too close to the sun or sea. Icarus was so excited to be flying that before he knew what happened he flew too close to the sun.  The wax on his wings started to melt.  Icarus kept flapping his wings soon to discover that the feather s and wax were all gone, all he had left was his bare arms. Icarus fell into the sea and disappeared forever. 

After hearing the story, we re-examined the Matisse's piece.  We discussed what the parts and colors might represent in relation to the story they just heard.
Icarus by Henri Matisse, 1947. 
Day 1:
  • Discuss the life and work of Henri Matisse.
  • Discuss in depth the story of Icarus. Examine the masterpiece Icarus by Henri Matisse.
  • As a class complete a drawing of icarus on black construction paper.
  • Carefully cut Icarus out. Have students glue him on the center of 6 x 12 inch red-violet paper.
  • Demonstrate to students how to bubble cut around Icarus making him appear larger or as if he is glowing.
  • Students should glue the "glowing" Icarus onto 6 x 12 inch light purple construction paper.
  • Have student write name on back and hand in.
Day 2:
  • Review Matisse information and story about Icarus.
  • Have students do another bubble cut around Icarus. Have them cut on the line. Glue the new Icarus to 6 x 12 inch light blue paper.
  • Repeat the process one final time. Icarus should be glued last to the dark blue 9 x 12 inch paper.
  • Using scrap pieces of construction paper have students cut out shapes to resemble feather around Icarus. Students can also incorporate a heart into their composition.

Student Examples:


  1. might be a double post---great lesson. I love Matisse---even have a cat by that name. Great lesson!!!

  2. Thanks Janice! :) The students also love hearing the story of Icarus.