Welcome to BT's Matisse page, created by Mrs. Dixon (of course!), with a little technical help from Mrs. White. We hope that you will find it interesting, and that it gives you ideas for artwork that you might like to create yourself.

If you'd like to show us any of your creations, please do email us at and/or

Henri Matisse 

Famous quotes: “Creativity takes courage.”

“There are always flowers for those who want to see them.”

Read the information about Matisse first, then click on these links for some ideas for your own artwork:

1a Matisse Rainbow Hands, inspired by 'The Sheaf'

1b Make your own 'Sheaf' picture in PowerPoint.

2a Matisse's Cut-Outs and Make a Story Collage

3a Matisse Positive and Negative Space pictures

3b Make your own Positive and Negative Space pictures in PowerPoint. 

4 Investigating a Matisse piece

Matisse was one of the most famous artists in the world. He liked to use bright colours and made pictures in oil paint and later in collage. He also created prints, sculptures and stained glass. He was born in France in 1869 and died in 1954.

Originally, Matisse studied law and worked as a court administrator. At the age of 21, Matisse suffered acute appendicitis and underwent surgery. During his long recovery, his mother gave him a paint box and this began his love of Art. He returned to working in law but couldn’t give up painting. Every morning before he went to work, he attended drawing classes; in his lunch breaks and after work he painted in oils. It took over his life, as he often painted through the night.

Matisse’s style changed through his career. At first, he painted landscapes and still-lifes in a traditional, realistic style. Then he was influenced by the Post-Impressionists and their use of colour.

Next, he decided that artists shouldn’t have to paint pictures that looked real, so he became a part of the Fauves, who were nicknamed the ‘Wild Beasts.’ The Fauves didn’t think colours had to life-like and enjoyed applying very bright colours in free rough brushstrokes. Matisse used the contrast between cool and warm colours to make the colours look brighter. The sunny parts were in warm pinks, reds, oranges and yellows, while the shady parts were in cool blues and greens. When his work was first shown in Paris it was seen as shocking and outrageous. People said their work was 'wild', which is where their name comes from!

Matisse thought Art should be pleasant and soothing. He said he wanted “an art of purity and serenity … something like an old armchair that provides relaxation from fatigue.”

During his later years Matisse had cancer and was in a wheelchair so he created huge artworks from his bed. He used large sheets of painted paper and used his scissors like a pencil to cut out big, bold shapes. Then he used a long stick to tell an assistant where to place the shapes on his walls until he was happy with the arrangement. He called this technique ‘painting with scissors’.


The shapes in his abstract cut-outs remind us of people, animals, plants and landscapes.

The Snail is one of the last pieces Matisse made before he died. First of all he drew the snail from nature, holding it and studying how the spiral unrolled. Then he simplified the image in his mind and began cutting and arranging the shapes. You can watch Matisse making a cut-out picture by clicking here.

He also decorated the Chapelle du Rousaire in France.

Matisse died in 1954 aged 84.