Creative exercises for every month

Drawing with Scissors 2019

A new updated course will be available for 2020. The exercises will be posted to our Facebook group from the 1st of the month as well as to our Instagram page.

We ran this course in October 2019 on our Facebook group, Inspired by Matisse's cut-outs we pick up scissors and glue to create some great artworks. The exercises are varied and will hopefully challenge you. Our group is open to all skill levels and is very friendly and encouraging.

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Exercise #1

We start off with copying one of Henri Matisse’s famous blue works. I chose to draw the outline first then cut.You may want to go straight to scissors.

“In his late sixties, when ill health first prevented Matisse from painting, he began to cut into painted paper with scissors to make drafts for a number of commissions. In time, Matisse chose cut-outs over painting: he had invented a new medium.” (Tate, 2014)
Here is a brief overview of the Tate Modern exhibition of Henri Matisse’s Cut-Outs in 2014

Matisse Blue Nude II

Exercise #2

White cut out on black paper

  • Choose a subject such as a plant, something that interests you is always best!
  • Draw the contours (lines) of your subject. Think about keeping it simple for cutting.
  • Cut out the shapes you have created and stick them onto a black piece of paper.

Here's a link to a short video explaining this exercise


Exercise #3 

Contour drawing and cut-out

  • Choose a nice bright still-life.
  • Do a quick contour drawing ✍️ keeping in mind you’ll use it as a guide for your cut-out.
  • Use some bright paper, or paint your own, cut your shapes out based on your drawing.
  • Don’t feel you need to be accurate.

Here’s a quick video explanation

Exercise #4

Collage Exercise

  • Cut up some black paper and an old book page into small rectangular pieces
  • Use a high contrast black and white drawing that you have or save an image in a black and white filter
  • Copy your image
  • Don’t be tempted to cut down the paper further. Use the text for creating mid tones. Angle and layer the pieces.
  • This will let you be creative and produce a unique work.
  • Have fun problem solving using a restricted medium.
  • Take photos as you go and compare it with your reference image.

[Detail copy of 'The Laundress' by Henri de Toulous-Lautrec, charcoal]


Exercise #5

Still life with layered cut-outs

  • Use an old book or newspaper to create an interesting background.
  • Glue pieces onto your paper
  • Use seperate pages to paint your objects. 🖊 I used coloured sharpies.Cut them out and and glue them onto your background.
  • If you use paint water it down so you can still see the text.


Exercise #6

A bit of tracing for this exercise.

  • Find an image with strong highlights, can be a photo or painting, I chose a drawing by Kathe Kollwitz.
  • Trace only the highlight areas, doesn't need to be exact.
  • Cut them out and stick them on a dark background with some different tonal areas, I chose newspaper.
  • I decided to stick the pieces on mirror image to the original so the pencil wouldn't show through from my tracing.

Exercise #7

Abstract colours

  •  Use an image that you’re drawn to. Something with clear shapes and contrasting colours.
  • Apply a monotone filter to the image. This helps you to get away from the original colours.
  • Do a quick colour sketch using abstract colours. I just chose four of my sharpies that worked well 😊
  • Paint your own paper or use what you have already.
  • Cut and paste your shapes. Give yourself the freedom to try whatever feels right 👍

Exercise #8

Cut up a portrait

  • Either create a sketch or find one to cut up.
  • Cut various shapes out. I left some of the original drawing intact
  • Experiment with where to stick them down.

Exercise #9

Freestyle collage 😁

  • Have fun cutting and pasting.
  • I covered may paper with large cut-outs then began to add smaller images.
  • Having some black and white  stops it feeling too busy and adds a nice contrast to the brighter colours.

Exercise #10


Find a face, then add to it.

  •  Cut out part of a face.
  • Fill in the missing areas of the face with anything that appeals.
  • You can use part of images or whole ones.
  • Mess around and see what happens.

The human face is so emotive, I feel it creates emotion to the subjects connected to it.


Exercise #11

Utilising texts 

  •  Use a previous cut as a reference.
  •  Black paper is not essential but it’s always good to mix things up.
  • Select different sized and coloured texts to recreate your work.
  • I went straight to scissors for this one but had my original close at hand for comparison.

Exercise #12

Using strips to create a new image

  • Cut out strips of magazines, use different pages,
  • Place them down next to each other in an interesting arrangement.
  • Look at the shapes and lines in the strips and see how they sit next to other strips

Exercise #13

Our final exercise for this month - Mix and Match ✂️😎
Here’s an opportunity to use some of your less loved works and leftover paper.

  • Select a couple of pieces of work. I chose a leaf contour drawing and a Joan of Arc charcoal sketch from last month.
  • Grab some coloured paper. I had some I had painted for a previous exercise plus some black paper.
  • Get cutting. Try different arrangements out and then stick them down.
  • You could use magazine cutouts for this too.