I'm just beginning Matisse as "Artist of the Month" for October with my students. Not my traditional October autumnal lesson motivation, but so what! Some grades will be doing cut-outs, another will be creating "fauves" (wild beasts - wait and see!!), some will be doing "toothpaste batiks", and still others will focus on the still life. All will be using shapes, lines,and patterns, and rich, vibrant, lively color.
I've seen a lot of lessons posted based on Matisse's gorgeous "Goldfish" painting, and that is one of the motivators for my lessons as well, but in a different way. You see, I believe there's more value in having kids look to learn to draw, rather than just copy a "here's how you do it". So for these lessons, I won't say "everyone lets make a goldfish bowl" and "here's how to draw a vase". Instead I give them stuff to look at so that they can take ownership over drawing a goldfish bowl, a vase, or whatever. Last year, you may remember, I even had authentic animals in my room, courtesy of a local taxidermist, so that the kids weren't just copying photos or pictures of animals. I know you can't always do this kind of thing, but when you can, it's great, and the kids LOVE it.
So today I set up one of my still lifes (the photos in this post show it from a few sides). It has 2 goldfish bowls filled with blue tissue paper, cellophane, and orange foam goldfish, patterned fabrics galore, plants, flowers, and more. Way too much? No, because we'll use viewfinders, we'll draw, and we'll "zoom in", as I did in these photos. We'll learn about taking "creative license" as we select what to include in our artwork, and what to leave out. Two or three weeks down the road, I hope you'll check back to see what my kiddos have done.