Lines: Invisible Journeys

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This lesson is part one of a three lesson unit designed to teach young students (first or second grade) about various types of line, and texture. This lesson places emphasis on the movement students use to create lines by having them create visual roadmaps and follow them with gesture. The magic of their gesture will be reinforced as their invisible journeys are revealed to them through the technique of wax resist.


Students will...

Identify lines in their everyday environment.
Learn to create several types of line, including vertical, horizontal, curved, spiral, zigzag, and broken.
Develop fine motor skills.
Practice using watercolor paint.
Learn the technique of wax resist.


Drawings by Keith Haring
Figurative paintings by Matisse
Op art, (for diagonals)
Sketches by Van Gogh (curved lines)

Harold and the Purple Crayon

Haring web sites
Haring Exhibition catalogs


Crayons, assorted colors with one white crayon for each student
Watercolor set
Water cups and water
Large sheets of plain paper


Lines are all around us. Students will discover that their world contains many different types of line, and enjoy the properties of line through movement.


Lines: Horizontal, Vertical, Curved, Spiral, Zigzag, Broken, Thick, Thin
Wax Resist

Setup: (10 minutes)
1. Set out plain paper, crayons. Be sure to set aside one white crayon for each student.
2. On the chalkboard or a large (24" x 36") sheet of paper create a list of the various styles of line: Horizontal, Vertical, Diagonal, Zigzag, curved, spiral, and dotted. Be sure to leave empty space beside each word to draw the lines later.

Introduction and discussion: (15 minutes)
As you introduce the various types of line:
1. Read the name of the line, or ask if anyone can read it out loud.
2. Ask the class if anyone can describe the line.
3. Draw the line.
4. Make a gesture with your arms to represent the line.
5. Begin a discussion about everyday objects which contain this line, inviting students to look around the room for the various lines. Good places to look (as children are seated in a circle) are: floor/ ceiling tiles, the bottom of shoes, clothing, hair, chairs, windows, etc.

Demonstration (5 minutes)
A line is a dot traveling through space (a lot like an airplane)- Try each type of line. See if you can make it travel from one side of the page to another.
1. Using a new crayon for each line, make an abstract composition using all of your lines.
2. As you make a line, have the children say the name out loud. You may ask which line to try next.
3. When you have used every type of line, use your white crayon to follow your lines around the page, as though they were a map. Say out loud the type of line that you are following, you may change direction at an intersection!
*Remind the students that it is okay if they do not see the white line. They should use the white crayon like a toy car or imaginary person moving beside the lines on their page. Remember to press down and move carefully.

Class work (25 minutes)
1. Children should write their names on the back of their paper.
2. Be sure that each child has tried all of the lines before moving on to a white crayon. During art making ask the student if they can name their lines. This will help you to assess their understanding, as some lines are similar and may be confused.
3. If a student discovers another type of line be sure to let the entire class know about it.
*Transition time: As students await their next teacher or class you can have them do line exercises while standing in line, similar to a Simon Says game. Use the gestures which you demonstrated in the beginning of class. For diagonal lines you may have the children lean to one side.

Setup: (10 minutes)
1. Set out newspaper, paint sets, brushes, white crayons, and water. Place each child's drawing at his or her seat.
2. Create a teacher exemplar of the assignment from the previous class.
3. Set out your visual aides and charts.

Demonstration (5 minutes)
1. Using your teacher created demonstration, make a few more journeys around your line - map with the white crayon.
2. As you follow a line, or switch onto a new line, say the name of the line out loud with the class.
3. Wax and water do not mix. Crayons are made of wax, and watercolor contains water.
-What do you think will happen if you paint on top of the lines?
-What about the white lines?
-Demonstrate beginning with a very light color.
-What will happen if you use a dark color?
*Remind students to wash their brush before switching colors.
*Students who are not used to painting may overwork the area of the paper that is nearest to them, or get stuck on one color. Turn your paper as you paint it, covering the entire page. Switch colors often, turning the watercolor set if necessary.

Class work (25 minutes)
1. Students may create more lines with their white crayon before beginning to paint.
2. If students are excited by what they see, take the opportunity to engage the students in conversation on what is happening.
3. Move around the room to assist children with water changes, and remind them to rotate their pages if necessary.

Cleanup (10 minutes)
1. Have children carefully carry their papers to a drying rack or shelf as they finish.
2. All brushes and water cups should be collected.
3. Students may wipe their hands with wet paper towels, clean damp sponges, or moist towelettes.

As students who have cleaned up join the final circle, you may show examples of fine art, or Keith Haring's work that utilizes line.
-What types of line do you see in this picture? Where?
-Why do you think the artist used that type of line?
-What happens if I turn the picture sideways?


1. Art Making
Students will learn about various types of line, and making associations between their gesture and the resulting line. The technique of crayon resist will be introduced.
2. Literacy in the Arts
Students will learn various characteristics and styles of line as they expand their art vocabulary.
5. Careers and Lifelong learning in visual arts
Students will learn about the role of an illustrator.

1. Creating, Performing and participating in the arts.
2. Knowing and Using Arts Resources and Materials.
3. Responding and Analyzing Works of Art.

The author of this lesson, Kellie Rilla, a Masters in Art Education student of the School of Visual Arts in NYC, is the 2004-2005 scholarship recipient of the Keith Haring Scholarship award. This project is a collaboration with The School of Visual Arts & a local NYC public elementary school.

To find out more about The Keith Haring Foundation Scholarship offered through the School of Visual Arts, please contact: Director, School of Visual Arts/Visual Arts Foundation, 15 Gramercy Park South, NYC 10003 or SVA's web site.