Matisse Prints du Soleil – Lesson Plan

(squeaking) (pop) (♪♪♪) After surviving cancer,
artist Henry Matisse was bound to
a wheelchair. He had 50 years of painting
and sculpting behind him, but he wasn’t about to stop. He began creating
cut paper collages inspired by nature, a technique that he called
“painting with scissors.” As a leader of
the Fauvist style, Matisse was already known
for his use of colour. This technique brought
renewed energy into his work. Taking inspiration from
Matisse’s cutout forms and his love of nature, we’re going to make
something called a heliograph print today. These prints use light
to develop them, and a scientific process
known as diffusion. I’ll tell you a little bit
more as I demonstrate. First of all, we need
a natural fibre fabric such as canvas,
cotton, or muslin. There’s no need to
prewash it. This process also works
great on watercolour paper. Now I’ve chosen to
demonstrate on canvas today, because it produces sharp
prints with lots of contrast. I’ve taped a piece
securely to some cardboard. Now if I were using paper,
I would tape it down to the front to keep it from
buckling when it gets wet. Now I’m going to
plan my composition. The collages that
Matisse created appear to be very random, but he placed the shapes
in exactly the position that he wanted them in. So, I’ve taken a piece of
black construction paper, about the same size as
the fabric that I have here, and I’ve cut shapes from it. I’m testing their placement
before I proceed to the next step. Alright. I’m going to start by applying
some water to the canvas using a foam brush. I don’t want to
get it too wet, so that it soaks
the cardboard. Just brush the surface
with water. Next I’m going to take
some liquid watercolour, and I’m going to brush it
over the water that I just put down. I’m using this undiluted,
and the colour is very intense. The prints will show up
better that way. Now for my second colour, I’m going to use
a dropper bottle. As you can see I can get
a very controlled application of the colour this way. Then for my third colour, I’ve but some paint
in a dropper bottle and I’m just squeezing
puddles out onto the canvas. I can also take a little
spritz bottle like this, and with it I can get
some of the colours to move. I need to work fairly quickly
at this point so it doesn’t dry. As you can see
I’ve put on a pair of gloves. This is a good idea because
as I wet the shapes and lay them onto the surface, I need to use my fingers
to make sure that the shapes have good contact
against the surface. If I didn’t wear the gloves
my fingers would get stained. When all the pieces
are in place, take it outside and place it
in direct sunlight, in a location where it
won’t be effected by the wind. Now if it isn’t possible
to take it outside, you can leave this indoors under an artificial
light source. It takes approximately
one hour for it to dry, and don’t try to speed up
the dry time by putting a fan on it. The paper may curl
a little bit when it dries, but it’s not going to
ruin the print, so excuse me while I go
make a helioprint. It’s completely
dry to the touch now, so let’s take off
the paper shapes and see what we have. Wow, look at that print. So what makes
the paint react like that? Well the areas that are exposed
to the light dry quickly, so the water and the colour
beneath the black shapes migrated into the dry areas. It’s the same thing that
happens when liquid flows into a paper towel,
or a sponge. Moving from an area of
high concentration to an area of
low concentration, known to science
as diffusion. Now the print can be
taken off the cardboard. Fabric prints can be
embellished with beads, stitching, fabric markers,
or adding more paint. Paper prints can be enhanced
with fine line markers, or coloured pencils
if you desire. If you visit and keyword search
‘Matisse Prints’ you’ll find a printable PDF
with more information about this process, also teaching standards
and a list of materials. I encourage you
to give it a try. It’s really fun. (♪♪♪) Captioned by GigEcast


  • Cheryl64014

    Thank you for this!  The kids will love it, and the grown-ups can make lovely art work as well.  Thank you again for sharing! 

  • Jeanie Gregory

    I love this technique! I have to do this… Thank you

  • SAM Thompson

    Love this, I can't wait to try it.

  • Barb Kramer

    absolutely fantastic…………….so simple yet so effective,   thanks very much for sharing, appreciated

  • Jan Marino

    Lovely, simply lovely. Thank you for sharing.

  • Blanca Dean

    Thank you. Its beautiful. Do you think we can use any waterproof paper if we dont have construction paper. I live in India. Thanks 🙂

  • Sarah Bacchus

    Great video! I am eager to try. I do have a question, since you are using liquid watercolor the piece afterwards would then be for display purposes only because if you wash the material the paint would wash out correct?

  • Jeanne Levy

    I tried this ahead of time – ordered the supplies, but couldn't wait to try it so I used what I had – and in the sunlight the black construction paper dried first even though I sprayed the cutouts with water and made sure they were on the damp watercolor fabric. They dried and there was no absorption of the watercolors underneath. (Used Dr. Ph. Martin's concentrated watercolors.) Did I make a mistake moistening the underneath of the construction paper?

  • Mickey K

    Can you do this same process with watered down acrylics or is it necessary to use watercolor?

  • Shina Sureki

    This is really cool! I was wondering if it's possible to do on a canvas bag and use it. If they get wet, would the print be ruined?

  • B. Bailey

    This is such a cool tutorial

  • Teena Minto

    great !

  • Elizabeth Capetillo


  • kathberry8

    …like this lady very much..

  • Elaine Bingham

    Great tutorial 😊

  • Christine Kelly

    Are you using watercolor paper as your base?

  • Pat Schwab

    Are the shapes cut from black construction paper? Do these have to dry in sunlight? Thanks

  • Patricia Mackenziie

    Thank you for sharing. I do silk painting. could I use silk paints for this procedure?

  • Margie Huckabay

    love this lesson

  • Debs McLaughlin

    Love this and want to try it! I don't have liquid watercolours but have watercolours in tubes…could I water them down and use them in a similar way? Thanks. 😊

  • naly202

    what a great idea!! thanks!

  • Bubbe Artist

    Wonderful and Thank You!


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