6th May 2020 Painting with scissors


Painting with scissors (London Drawing group online session)

Paper and scissors

Today my daily drawing was a bit different – I attended an online live session with the London Drawing Group called Henri Matisse Online: drawing with scissors. It was an hour on Zoom with artist, Frances Stanfield. Its amazing what you can do in just one hour!

The first exercise we did was to look at Matisse’s ‘violet left with orange background’ and have a go at cutting it ourselves. Interestingly, Matisse would just cut, using his scissors like a pencil or paintbrush, and this free approach was great. Frances helped us by shooing us a video clip of Matisse cutting – he moved the paper around and kept his hand and the scissors mainly still. As I cut, because it was a continuous flow, I ended up with two versions of the shape, the one I deliberately cut, and the one made by the left over paper.

Cutting this shape led us to being shown Matisse’s book, Jazz, published in 1943. The book contained 20 cut outs and notes inspired by circus performers and jazz music. We continued to cut, this time using photos of circus performers as the starting point and continuing to cut all in one fluid movement.

Frances told us about how Matisse would cut the same or similar shapes repeatedly and that is an interesting approach – to pursue the same pattern or image over and over to really explore, something I find myself doing in sketching. We also cut along to jazz music, a nice multi-sensory approach to art, responding to the music with our cutting, improvising, just as jazz musicians would.

We continued to cut shapes based on pictures, paintings and photos of sculptures, developing out flowing cutting technique. Cutting a figure based on a painting  led us to think about the relationship between the edge of the paper and the figure within.

Finally we looked at natural materials we’d brought along – I collected some leaves from the park as I walked back from the bakery this morning. Looking again at Matisse’s natural forms and hs large work, The Snail, we cut several natural forms.

We were encouraged to pin our cuttings up and think about the relationships between them. The photos of how Matisse would live with his art, pinned up around him in his house were a great model and inspiration. Having your art around you allows it to seep into your mind so you can allow it to develop imperceptibly.

As we worked Frances talked about how copying the work of Matisse would allow us to imitate to learn – I like this interpretation of copying as a learning tool that we use and then move on from.

The hour went so quickly and I generated so much work. Today I drew with scissors instead of my usual tools and it not only made me think about cutting differently but made me think about drawing too. Frances showed us how she’d taken her cutouts into printmaking, which is something I’d like to try with my Gelliplate.

Find out more about London Drawing Group here.

Follow Frances Stanfield in Instagram here: @frances.stanfield




About jeandrawingaday

I am a printmaker and artist, a teacher and author, a senior lecturer in the School of Education at The University of Northampton.
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