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Henri Roussou - Space and Layers


In this project we studied the paintings of Henri Rousseau.  Many of his paintings are rich in color and full of overlapping objects with the background, middle ground and foreground.   He was a post-impressionist and built on the artistic ideas that Monet, Degas, and Seurat brought to light.  His best known paintings depict jungle scenes, even though he never left France or saw a jungle.


As a class we used visual thinking skills to look at how Rousseau used items in his painting "Surprised" and overlapped objects to give the feeling of being in the 3 dimensional jungle.  We also discussed that many of his paintings sets up a situation that makes the viewer start to wonder what comes next.  For example in the picture surprised the tiger is frightened by the storm.  The children made up scenarios for what happens to the tiger after this was painted.   Does he run away?  Does he stay cowering under the tree?  Etc.  The children then created their own version of a Rousseau jungle painting.  The children were then encouraged to imagine a place that they have always wanted to visit and visualize and list things they would see there.  Their worlds could be based on a real place or pure fantasy.  Since Rousseau painted so many locations from his imagination his paintings have a more whimsical feel to them.  Next the children drew out their imaginative landscapes in pencil trying to capture at least 3 layers with an obvious foreground, middle ground and background.  The children then used watercolor pencils to try and capture different tints and shades of their many layers of their drawing.  Some children worked on more realistic scenes while some really let their imaginations run wild.  When adding in color I encouraged the children to try to use mixed media.  Many of them used oil pastels, watercolors, and glue to add in real texture.  This experimenting with media types and how they can use it to their artistic advantage is an important skill the children enjoy practicing


Henri Julien Félix Rousseau (May 21, 1844 – September 2, 1910)
Rousseau's work exerted an "extensive influence” on several generations of vanguard artists, starting with Picasso and including Jean Hugo, Léger, Beckmann and the Surrealists. To see more examples of his work click on th pictures below.


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