An Art a Day Takes the Blues Away: Exploring with Lines and More Lines through Storybooks

Previously posted on July 27, 2015 @

For today’s post, we will be using another great resource in teaching Art in a more meaningful and experiential way, Teaching Art with Books Kid Love by Darcie Clark Forhardt.

This book, like the How to Teach Art Book to Children, explores the various elements of Art and introduces them through children’s story books. You will learn the principles along the way so if you don’t happen to have the suggested books to use, you can use whatever story books you may have, can borrow or browse through bookstores. So, you can turn the lesson in to Teaching Art with the Books My Kids Love.

If you have story books which you’d like to feature (as you will understand as you read on), you can have Storytelling first with smaller students using these chosen books. The older children can read these books on their own and observe for the elements of Art.

Based on the past 2 posts on Lines, I am hoping we’ve gotten ourselves and our children excited in drawing all kinds of lines. But let me introduce other ways to categorize lines.

Character lines: these are the kinds of lines that show gesture and create moods. You may use very thick to very fine lines and may be jagged, curved, scribbled, pointed, and so on and so forth.

Such lines may appear “angry, confused, calm, serene, messy, confused, frustrated”. You may ask your children to close their eyes and ask them to think of lines. As you call out a mood, make them open their eyes and draw the line that they saw in their mind. If you are working with more than one child, position them in such a way that they will not be able to see what the other comes up with so there is no risk of conforming or copying. This is also a good time to encourage expression (without judgment and correction!) and just being comfortable to speak.

Look at these illustrations from Smoky Night by Even Bunting. (Or find similar story books in your own library). These consist of character lines that create some form of mood. Without the benefit of words, try to let you children try to explain what they think is happening in these 2 pages.

You can go to youtube to check this out: 
You can watch this video on mute so you can ask your students
what they think is happening.

In these pages of “The Girl who Loved Wild Horses” by Paul Goble, you will see a lot of curved and angled lines:

Try to get story books with clear and vibrant illustration and check out how they used different lines. Ask your children to show what they find:

  • angry lines
  • serene or calm lines
  • frustrated lines
  • any lines that show mood or character?
  • happy lines
  • strong lines
  • lines that show movement

This can be a fun time of discovery and discussion. Take your time and do not rush the activity. You also get a chance to peek into your students’ hearts and minds when you do this exercise.

As we get more and more familiar with lines, we can now move to creating outlines, or “Contour”.

Let the children choose 3- 5 small objects that have clear borders. Have them lay down on their table/ desk (Do this activity where there is ample space for students to rest their elbows and arms and look at their “objects”).

Define first what an outline is. Some may opt to call this silhouette. If you have a giant manila paper or even newspapers, you can even ask a child to lie down as you draw his contour – lines that follow the outline of any object, using a thick marker pen. While you’re at it, go ahead and tickle him/her. If you have more kids, let them draw each other’s outline. You can also outline your own feet or hands. No details are drawn within, just outlines.

Here are examples of outlines done by our sons under a dear friend and artist, Jerome Malic. Comment below if you’d like to get Mr. Malic as your Art teacher for homeschooled children or for summer/weekend classes for students in regular schools. Teacher Jing, Jerome’s nickname, suggests to use drawing pencil with grade of 2H for outlines. For shading, use 6B.

This is really fun. Sometimes, you can try for the students to simply look at the object and draw without looking at their paper. In, it says:

“Contour and Blind Contour Drawing – Contour drawing is a process of line drawing where one must concentrate on a single point and follow the contours of the body. This process should be done in one long continuous line to mimic the way that the eye works. When doing a contour drawing, you are improving your eye-hand coordination, an important skill in both art and athletics.”

You can even have a “guessing game”. Teacher and student/s goes to another area and chooses a few objects. Contours of these objects are drawn, and you try to guess each other’s chosen objects.

For examples in Fine Art, you may google the following to stretch this activity:

Pablo Picasso’s Starry Night

See the wavy, curly, angled lines all in this painting

See the pencil sketches of Edgar Degas.

Please make sure that you check images first before showing Fine Art examples to your students. We all know there are lot of “adult” material in most of the famous artists. Other artists with distinct use of lines are Joan Miro in Morning Star:

Paul Klee in Pastorale

and Piet Mondrian ‘s Composition with Red, Yellow and Blue.

For another day, you may try to borrow or find a much sought-after preschool/ primary years book, Leo Lionni’s A Color of His Own. This can be tied with science as the child learns about chameleons.

Do you notice that the animals are drawn in 2-D Contour like manner?

Photo Credit:

Do you think your child can have a go in trying to create an animal’s contour? Let him choose what animal and find a photo in books or online. As a teacher, choose also your own animal. Do this activity with your students.

My daughter Raya eventually became a much better drawer and painter than her first teacher. I think what gave the children in our home the confidence and freedom to try is “seeing and being” with a teacher who also learned with them. If only laughter can be kept in a bottle, we have loads of them from my children seeing what their teacher came up with.

As I close, let me share with you one drawing of my daughter when she was probably 5 yrs. old. She entitled it, Queen of Lollipop!! Oh, so many curly, spiral lines!!!

Have fun with Art!

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Ephesians 2:10

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