Monday, October 25, 2010


I found out about the work of Matte Stephens last summer while wandering around online looking for artists of interest for myself and for students. He's a young illustrator working up in Portland, Oregon. I like the retro feel of his work. He cites Ben Shahn as an influence and you can totally see it in his work. Matte often uses a muted color palette which caught my eye as well.

I thought his work would offer the kinder classes a chance to play with line and materials while adding a bit of silliness to the mix. Since they worked with water soluble markers to make a relief print in the previous lesson, I thought it would be interesting for them to use the same coloring tools and use them in a different way. With this project, after drawing and tracing their contour lines, they added color loosely to areas of their image and then brushed water over top of those parts to create a watercolor-type effect.

After sharing some of Matte's work with the kids, I focused on his Lumberjack Breakfast with them.
We talked about what the utensils were and how they used them. Then we talked about what made this breakfast scene a bit different than a normal breakfast. Hint- its in the smiles... I brought up the idea that the food items might not all be happy about being eaten. Maybe they would be sad, or surprised, or angry.

The students got a kick out of drawing a meal and giving their food items different expressions. When they added the color and "painted" over it with water most of the classes quieted down and really got into it. Students also thought that the water changing color as they used more and more color was neat too.

This is the last project I will do with the kinders for 8 weeks. I'm looking forward to meeting with them again and seeing how they have changed in that short time. When I see them again, it will all be about shape, both flat and 3d forms.

1. intro to Matte Stephen's work 
2. looking at a fork and a knife and drawing them
3. adding food items and plate to paper in pencil
4. trace contour lines with permanent black marker
5. add color to shapes loosely with water soluble markers
6. paint over top of shapes with water to fill them in


  1. Wow!!! I am very honored for my painting to the inspiration for your super great paintings! I hope you guys will look at breakfast differently from now on :) Your work is just fantastic!!! No matter what you end up doing in life always make time to make art! Your friend, Matte

  2. Don you are a super art teacher! I am confident that our children learned a great deal about art and nutrition. It is refreshing to see the phenomenal work of art at Zamorano. It is a pleasure having you on the Zamorano team!