Fireflies: May Masterpiece: "Boy with Butterfly Net" by Matisse         

May 13, 2012

May Masterpiece: "Boy with Butterfly Net" by Matisse

 Henri Matisse, French Artist 1869-1954
"Boy with Butterfly Net" 
1907, 69 3/4 X 45 15/16 oil on canvas
20th Century "Fauvism"
Collection: Minneapolis Institute of Arts;
the Ethel Morrison Van Derlip Fund

Our master artist today is HENRI MATISSE.  Matisse is known for his bold use of color.  He is widely regarded as the greatest colorist of the 20th Century.  During the last 15 years of his life he began "painting with paper"or "drawing with scissors" and is known for his amazing and colorful collages.

In "Boy with Butterfly Net," Matisse created a sparse landscape composed of flat areas of green land and blue sky with a single figure.  In keeping with our color and butterflies theme for this month of May, this seemed like the perfect masterpiece for us to share!

I love Matisse's use of bold color and simple compositions. Just as we speak English and model it so our children can learn language, we show master paintings to introduce them to the foundations of art.  We don't speak slowly or use "baby talk" to encourage language development.  It seems, therefore, that we shouldn't use only cartoon art to engage our little ones if at all possible.  Keep master paintings of all genre hung in the home and/or classroom and rotate often.  Ask questions and encourage them to think about what they see in these masterpieces, even if you don't understand yourself!  Immerse them in fine art and watch their little minds absorb like sponges and grow... perhaps even faster than we do!

Here are some questions to ask your young student to lay the foundation for color regarding our masterpiece of the month "Boy with Butterfly Net" by Henri Matisse.  If you have one of those handy-dandy color wheels, hold it up and ask them to point to the colors they see in this painting.  Can they match the colors?

1.  What do you see in this painting? (A boy.)
2.  What is he holding?  (A butterfly net.)
3.  What colors do you see in this painting? (Let them show you on the color wheel!) 
4.  Are these colors across the color wheel from one another?  (Yes.)  This is called a "complement."  When two colors are across the wheel from one another, we call them complementary colors. This may seem 'over their heads,' but, trust me, you use words all the time that are over their heads and just don't realize it!  We don't have to get into detail, just state the facts.  It's the first "touch" or exposure to a new word and a new idea!

Here's a fun hand motion to show what a complement is: Have prepared a color wheel, an orange circle and a blue circle cut out of colored construction paper about the size of a baseball. Showing the students on the color wheel, point to orange and then blue, and say, "When orange meets blue, he says 'How do you do?  You look nice today.. and so do you!" Then hold up the orange circle in one hand and the blue in the other and then put them together as you repeat "When orange meets blue, he says 'How do you do!  You look great nice today (says orange circle).. and so do you (says blue circle!)"  Even though compliment and complement are homonyms, it's a fun way to get the concept across!

5.  What is the boy wearing?  (Shirt, shorts, sandals and a necktie.)  What color is the necktie?  (red.)  What else is red in the painting?  (The road, his hair.)

Stay tuned for the next post where we I will show you a
super cool Matisse project to do with your child!

For more information on the artist Matisse or to dig deeper into color for you or your older students, click HERE [Laura Bird Miller Website]

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