Level III-Art Lesson 10: The Russian Matryoshka
Learn two folk art techniques: a comma stroke with a brush & dots with a medicine dropper
The lesson is suitable for students in grade 5 through adult.
Art Lesson Description:
We combine the rich folk tradition of the Russian nesting doll with a short lesson in Russian folk art painting techniques and an introduction to Russia’s incredible history.
Students will learn an easy way to create a symmetrical outline of the matryoshka.
They will learn two painting techniques commonly learned by Russian school children—
- Using a medicine dropper to make dots, and
- Learning a simple comma stroke with a round #6 watercolor brush.
Then they will use these two techniques, along with a gel pen for details, to paint the matryoshka.
This lesson includes both POWERPOINT and VIDEO versions of the lesson plus a downloadable printout of a matryoshka outline.
List of Supplies for Each Student:
- OPTIONAL: print-out of “The Matryoshka Outline” (this comes with the lesson)
- 1 sheet of printer paper
- One sheet of 11" x 15" watercolor paper
- Masking tape
- Drawing board: (Make your own by cutting an 18" x 24" piece of 1/4" masonite)
- Tempera paints or acrylic paints
- Paint palette
- Medicine dropper
- Set of brushes
Suggestions for Cross-Curricular Connections:
- Order a set of rather inexpensive blank matryoshka dolls, and paint the dolls, using what you learned in the lesson!
- Watch a Russian folk artist paint a Russian flower.
- See another kind of Russian folk art style.
- Learn about the history of the matryoshka
- Watch a video introduction to making a wooden matryoshka.
- A nesting doll is often thought of as a mother protecting her children. Learn the history of Mother’s Day in the United States.
For younger children:
- Babushka’s Doll by Patricia Polacco.
- Rechenka’s Eggs by Patricia Polacco.
- The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship by Arthur Ransome.
- The Magic Nesting Doll by Jacqueline K. Ogburn.
- The Littlest Matryoshka by Corinne Demas Bliss.
- Matryoshka by Faina Blagodarova has 16 Russian poems translated into English for children three years and up and depicts a Russian child's everyday life.
For older children:
- Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys: a young adult story about Soviet prison camps. There is a helpful study guide for the book.
- The Night Journey by Kathryn Lasky: a story of the life of a Jewish girl in turn-of-the-century Russia.
- The Wild Children by Felice Holman: Left behind when his family is arrested by soldiers following the Bolshevik Revolution, twelve-year-old Alex falls in with a gang of other homeless children, but never loses his hope for a better life.
- Anastasia, the Last Grand Duchess by Carolyn Meyer: A novel in diary form. The youngest daughter of Czar Nicholas II describes her privileged life before World War I and the tragic events that followed.
- Angel on the Square by Gloria Whelan: In 1913 Russia, twelve-year-old Katya eagerly anticipates leaving her St. Petersburg home to join her mother, a lady in waiting in the household of Tsar Nicholas II, but the ensuing years bring world war, revolution, and undreamed-of changes to her life.
- Learn to make Olivie (Салат “Оливье "ol-iv-YEH").
Approximate Time to Complete the Art Lesson:
- Drawing the matryoshka outline: 20 minutes
- Drawing details on the matryoshka: 20 minutes
- Painting the matryoshka: 45-60 minutes
- Total time: 85-100 minutes