Matisse Watercolor Goldfish Art Project

Art Medium: watercolor

Grades: Kg - 12
Ages: 4 - adult

About this project: If you’re in the mood to buy a few goldfish, it’s a wonderful way to set up a still life for this project. Every age student loves to watch these bright fish swim to and fro, and gives one the opportunity to see the shapes of their small bodies and fins. I like to share pictures from the book Matisse Art Activity Pack by Mila Boutan with my students before getting started. Take note of Matisse’s painting called “The Red Fish”. You may also want to refer to the book
Hooray for Fish! by Lucy Cousins.

  • Gold fish in a bowl, or pictures of fish
  • Watercolor paints
  • Watercolor brushes of different sizes
  • Plastic container for water
  • Paper towels
  • Watercolor paper
  • Pencil and eraser
  • Fine tip black permanent marker


Part l:

Sketch the picture in pencil
It’s interesting to have the fish swimming in different directions
Begin painting with the lightest colors first
Paint from the background to the foreground

Part II:
When the painting is dry, outline the fish, glass bowl and other objects using a permanent fine tip black marker.

Art Therapy Ideas:
Imagine being the fish… which one do you feel like… the big one or the small one. Imagine what it’s like being under the sea with so much room to swim. Imagine what it’s like being in a small fish bowl. Draw where the fish might like to go if it was freed from the bowl. An art therapy book I highly recommend is: The Gestalt Art Experience by Janie Rhyne.