Thursday, February 23, 2012

Rousseau Inspired Mixed Media

My second grade art students had a great time learning about Henri Rousseau. We learned about his life and asked the question - "How do artists surroundigs effect their art work?"  What they thought at the beginning of the lesson was very different than the ideas we ended up with!  Rousseau never saw a jungle in real life. He lived as a customs inspector in France and didn't even start painting until he was 40 years old!  Rousseau used pictures and plants that he could find to help him get inspiration for his art.

How do we find our inspiration today? Well....I would say Pinterest right now since that is where the idea for this lesson came from. Technology can take us right to the jungle even without leaving our classroom. We used Google earth to travel from Atlanta, Georgia to Africa where we could explore more in depth what a jungle might look like.  We used photographs of animals and their habitats on our interactive white board and spent some time discovering what basic shapes we could use to draw our own animals.

When the initial drawings were finished students painted their animals using realistic colors. We went back in with crayon and tissue paper to create our animal habitats. Just like Rousseau we tried to have our art filled with jungle!

I was thrilled that the students had such great success drawing the different kinds of animals. There was no limitation to what they could choose and the variety was excellent. Using the basic shapes to begin our drawings helped my students feel confident that they could draw the animal realistically without every student having to make the same animal.  I love seeing them so proud of their work!

Want to add a little more technology fun to this lesson? Check out the National Gallery of Art and create your own exotic jungle online!


  1. Love how you used Google Earth to show Africa vs. US (or France). I will use your ideas (especially the simple shape animals) next time I teach Rousseau.


  2. These Rousseau projects look great.
    I like how you incorporated a history and a geography lesson.


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