Fauvism & Color Mood Art Project

Fauvism is a fun art history lesson to teach. It’s intense colors are perfect for teaching color mood. I do this project with my 4th grade art classes, but really it could be adapted to most grades depending on complexity of subject matter.

Fauvism and Color Mood Lesson Plan

Supplies: 12×18 sheets of 90lb watercolor paper, pencils, sharpies, Crayola NEON Oil Pastels or Sax Non-Toxic Tempera Paint Cakes – Set of 6 – Fluorescent Colors (this is what we used), paint brushes, water cups, paper towels, newspaper for tables


  1. Color Mood-Sometimes we can attach a color to the emotions we are feeling. Have you ever heard the phrases “So mad he could see red”, “Feeling blue”, or “Being green with envy”. Artists use color to create different moods- through color intensity (bright & dull) and color value (light & dark). Artist’s also sometimes use color schemes to create moods (complementary colors create excitement). Using colors deliberately gives a deeper expression to our artwork and evokes different emotional responses in the viewer.
  2. A Peaceful Mood is created by using dull & light colors. Earth tones, like the colors of the sea, sand, and rocks. The colors have a low saturation (dull) and are subtle.
  3. A Playful Mood is created by using bright- fully saturated bright colors (Pure hues -straight off the color wheel-like crayon colors)
  4. Fauvism, c. France 1905:
    1. Major Fauvism Artists: Henri Matisse (the Leader of the Fauves), Paul Gaugin and André Derain The artists who painted in this style were known as ‘Les Fauves’ (the wild beasts).
    2. Les Fauves believed that color should be used to express the artist’s feelings about a subject, rather than simply to describe what it looks like.
  5. Characteristics of Fauvism Art:

i.    Explosive colors: of pure color (derived from van Gogh) are combined with curvilinear planes of flat color, inspired by Paul Gaugin)

ii.    Wildly unique and unnatural color combinations

iii.    Complementary hues placed or used right next to each other

iv.    Impulsive brushwork, Sketchy short strokes

Activity: (5-6  30 minute classes)

Project Objective: Create a tempera painting using expressive colors in the Fauvism style.

  1. Draw  subject matter in pencil then outline in sharpie.
  2. Using BRIGHT colors, paint the subject matter-switch colors often, use complementary colors next to each other (creates excitement).
  3. For the background paint large blocks of bright colors.

These are some reference sheets I drew for references.

fauvismGiraffe Drawing

Zebra Drawingfauvism

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Check out our middle school  Fauvism Self Portraits!

Fauvism Self Portrait Art Lesson for

by Claire

More Student Examples:

  1. Elizabeth Watkins

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