How to Draw a Henri Rousseau-inspired Tiger

Henri Rousseau was an artist who painted in the late early 1900's. He was famous for his dream-like depictions of jungles and wildlife. Ironically, he did not paint these scenes from nature or from experience. Everything he painted, he studied from illustrations in books. In the movie "I am Legend" with Will Smith, he had a collection of Modern Art paintings from the deserted Museum of Modern Art, and Henri Rousseau's Sleeping Gypsy was hanging in his home during one of the scenes. That type of stuff makes this art nerd happy.

Rousseau's painting, Surprised! Tropical Storm with a Tiger, inspired this simple project of a tiger coming out from the foliage of the jungle. They students were really excited about learning how to draw wildlife. What was really cool was how we went through the drawing in steps, yet they all came out with their own unique style.

This project was adapted from Art Projects for Kids.
  • Prepare a circle template for the tiger's head made out of cardboard (make several if you have lots of students).
  • Hand out 9 x 12 Strathmore Drawing Pads, Strathmore 9x12 Bristol Smooth Paper or White Poster Board .
  • With pencil, have students trace the circle template for the tiger's head.
  • Next, they are to draw the body and details of the tiger's face.
  • Lastly, they should draw a few scattered leaves around the tiger. One of my students drew a large leaf that covered one of the tiger's eyes. It was genius!
  • When the students have finished drawing their details, pass out Pentel Arts Oil Pastels in several shades of orange and yellow, white, black, green and blue.
  • Be sure to instruct the students to color with a firm hand, to make oil pastel colors pop.
  • Trace edges with a black oil pastel. Don't forget your tiger's whiskers!
The artwork above was created by a 4th grader. 

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