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 4 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 is appropriate for people in 4th grade through adult.
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 artist paint a Russian folk 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