Art Activity: The Swimmers: Paper Cut-Outs With Matisse

The Swimmers: Paper cut-outs with Matisse book

You Will Need:

Premium card - we used Prisma Favini Pastel Paper
Coloured paper - we used Brenex Paper Squares
Other paper - we used black and white photographs from old books
Glue stick


30 mins


All ages


The Swimmers: Paper Cut-outs with Matisse by Ms Bianchi is a gorgeous book that introduces kids to the amazing Henri Matisse and his artwork. The book starts off describing his work, his career and his famous paper cut-outs and the circumstances that lead him to start creating them. The book finishes with several simple projects that kids (or grown-ups) can do to create work in Matisse's cut-out style.

For this activity, we decided to make our own paper-cut out using one of the book's projects as inspiration.


The Swimmers paper cut outs with matisse book activity

1. Let's create an abstract underwater theme using paper materials. We used the smooth side of the Prisma Favini paper. This paper has the weight of card and comes in solid colours, but has a premium look. We will use this paper as a background. We also used some photos from old books in contrast.

matisse inspired artwork. cutting shapes

2. Cut organic or geometric shapes from each of the coloured papers. Think of coral, plants and sea life and what shapes they are. Also, have a look at what kind of shapes that Matisse used in his paper-cut outs for inspiration.

matisse paper cut out activity

3. Start arranging the shapes onto the background. Think about the composition and what kind of story you want to tell. When placing your shapes on the background, ask yourself these questions as you go along: is your arrangement balanced? Do the colours work well together? Is there enough contrast between the shapes and colours?

matisse paper cut out activity

4. Once you are happy with your composition, you may want to create a crop of it as the final artwork. You can use a frame, a mount or 2 pieces of paper to zone in on a nice area and crop it. If you want to crop it you can then trim around the work, leaving a margin/space around it to allow for framing.

matisse paper cut out activity

5. And this is it finished. We decided to leave it A4 but we turned it upside down as we thought it was a more interesting composition!

Share your Matisse inspired work with us @insideartspace!

The Swimmers: Paper Cut-Outs with Matisse can be purchased here.

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