Into the Jungle – How to Make Henri Rousseau Inspired Art

Our Artist Inspiration is Henri Rousseau

Henri Rousseau was a self taught French painter who is famous for his illustrative style rainforest and jungle paintings. 

Jungle - Henri Rousseau

I really love these paintings – they capture the dense, lush vegetation of the rainforests and jungles, and show the wonderful wildlife hiding amongst the trees staring out at the viewer – they almost invite you in, do you agree? They make me want to to an explore the jungle, what about you? You could write about his paintings in your journals… 


Feeling Inspired?

jungle - henri rousseau

Here are some activities you could try:

Collage a layered picture

Rousseau’s paintings seem to be made up of many layers, mimicking the layers of plants and trees in the rainforest. One way you could create a Rousseau inspired picture could be to cut out trees, plants, flowers, and animals from a magazine – or draw them and then cut them out – then start to arrange them on your paper to create a jungle scene. Using bits of paper, rather than trying to paint the picture, means you can move your trees and animals around to create the perfect composition (the way things are arranged in a picture). You can play with the animals – can you make them peek from behind a leaf? or hide behind a tree? When you are happy with it you can stick it all down. 

baboon Henri Rousseau

Mixed Media Animal Portrait

If you really like one rainforest animal in particular, maybe you could try painting a close up portrait of it, then layering painted leaves over and around it, to make a mixed media piece of work?

So Many Shades of Green

Do you notice how many different types of green are in each painting? Using different tones and shades of each colour is one of the ways that Rousseau manages to create the effects of all the lush layers of the jungle. Have a go at mixing colours to create different types of greens… start with one green, then try adding a dark blue, light blue, white, yellow…. see what happens… you could paint every shade of green in stripes in your sketchbook or journal. Id love to see this! 

Here are some other paintings inspired by Henri Rousseau - what do you think?

William Gonzalez
Mila Pisanova
Johanna Hilderbrant

I hope you enjoyed that little lesson on Rousseau, and Im excited too see what you make! 

Now you can head to the drawing workshop, or check out how to make rainsticks and other jungle instruments

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Katherine is a mixed media artist, art teacher, writer, designer, photographer – and mum of 2 – who works and lives in North Devon, nestled in the woods on a little smallholding. She has a BA in Performance Studies, an MA in Fine Art, and an MFA in photography, alongside a background in early years childhood and special education. Katherine uses her artistic talents, passion for helping people, and unique creativity to create articles, courses and classes that promote creativity, artistic skills, self expression and well-being. She believes in the power of the creative arts and how engaging with them can improve so many aspects of life.
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