Soften Your Mood Painting


Observe the painting style of French artist Henri Matisse. Create mood with color and a soft edge painting technique!


1. French artist Henri Matisse was well known for his use of color to create mood, especially in portraits, and his loose painting style. How can color create mood? Think of some moods with your class. What colors would you chose to illustrate those moods? Why? View some examples of Matisse’s paintings. What moods are portrayed in his works?

2. Notice Matisse’s painting style. He paints bold, solid areas of color and simplified forms. Yet in some areas, he lets the colors blend together. That technique is called soft edge painting.

3. Paint a self-portrait in the style of Matisse using the soft edge technique. Cover your work area with recycled newspaper and have clean water handy to wash your brush between colors. Younger students may want to wear a Crayola® Art Smock. Start by lightly sketching your self-portrait with Crayola Colored Pencils on a heavy sheet of white paper. Simplify the shapes in your portrait as Matisse did.

4. Load a brush with Crayola Washable Kid’s Paint and begin filling in the forms with bold colors. Lightly stroke a dampened brush across wet paint or paint adjacent color onto damp paper to blend one color into another. Try making a long stroke of one color, then immediately paint a lighter or darker color along the stroke edge to create a softly blended highlight or shadow effect. Think about how the colors you choose will portray a mood. What mood do you want your self-portrait to reflect?

5. Allow your painting to dry completely and then mount it with clear adhesive tape to a colored paper that is reflective of the mood portrayed in the portrait.

Safety Guidelines

Adult supervision is required for any arts & crafts project. Observe children closely and intervene as necessary to prevent potential safety problems and ensure appropriate use of arts and crafts materials. Some craft items, particularly beads and buttons, are potential choking hazards for young children. Avoid use of such small parts with children younger than 3 years. Craft items such as scissors, push pins and chenille sticks may have sharp points or edges. Avoid use of materials with sharp points by children younger than 4 years. Read all manufacturers' safety warnings before using arts and craft supplies.

Crayola Washable Paints—Not for use as body/face paint.


  • Make your mood pop! Create several versions of your self-portrait, each using a different style to portray a different mood. Mount the portraits together on one large sheet of paper to create an Andy Warhol-inspired Pop Art piece.
  • Students, especially younger students and those with special needs, may benefit from having photographs of themselves or a mirror to reference while painting. Remind students not to focus on achieving realistic details.
  • Share your self-portrait with the class! Do you recognize your classmates? What are the moods reflected in your classmates’ paintings?

Related Lesson Plans

Lesson Plans

Share on Facebook


crayola supplies
  • Washable Kid's Paint
  • Art Smock
household supplies
  • recycled newspaper
  • water
  • heavy paper
  • brushes



  • Grades 4 to 6
  • Grades 7 to 12
  • Special Needs


  • Visual Arts


  • 30 to 60 minutes
  • Multiple Sessions


  • Students explore the artwork and painting style of Henri Matisse.

  • Students identify colors that describe moods.

  • Students define soft edge painting.

  • Students identify objects and figures in their most simple forms, without realistic details.

  • Students create a self-portrait using the soft edge painting technique, choosing colors that reflect an intended mood.


Research Canada Standards
Research UK Standards
Research U.S. Standards