LINES! LINES! LINES! – Elements of Art, Colour

Students explore characteristics of expressive lines and create a crayon resist painting on a photocopy of themselves.

Required Time

80 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 1 to Grade 8


Language Arts
Visual Arts


colour contrast crayon resist expressive line


Watercolour Paint Set Paint Brushes Photocopies of Students Crayons - Regular (Not Washable) Water Containers Paper Towels


LINES! LINES! LINES! – Elements of Art, Colour - Step One

Step One

  1. Use a black and white photocopy of a picture of yourself on a white background.
  2. Use crayons to draw lots of different kinds of lines in the background of your photocopied photo.
  3. Use lots of different colours and fill the space.
  4. Press hard with the crayons.
  5. Leave some paper blank.
  6. Colour on your photo as well.
LINES! LINES! LINES! – Elements of Art, Colour - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Paint over the whole picture with watercolours.
  2. Choose different colours and let them blend together.
  3. Think about how the colours of the paint will contrast with the colours of the lines.
LINES! LINES! LINES! – Elements of Art, Colour - Step Three

Step Three

  1. View your finished work with fresh eyes.
  2. Think about what the different lines you drew communicate.
  3. What does your design say about you?
    - lines with sharp peaks give a feeling of energy and being hyper
    - smooth flowing lines give a feeling of calm and being comfortable
    - lines with sharp angles give a feeling of excitement 
    - wide lines give a feeling of strength and boldness

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • create a crayon resist line design;
  • create 20 different expressive lines; 
  • identify the emotions different lines communicate;
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity; 
  • support their ideas with evidence found in the works.


Have students:

  • use a sketchbook/journal to record as many different kinds of lines as they can see in and around their classroom and neighbourhood over the course of a week;
  • work in small groups to share their findings and describe the emotions each line communicates;
  • create a list of descriptive words that can be used when discussing lines;
  • find pictures of artworks that use expressive lines and match them to some of the lines they have recorded;
  • work together to create a bulletin board that demonstrates what they have learned about lines.


  1. Prior to this lesson you may want to have your students do the Lines Worksheet available on this website. (Downloads – LinesWorksheet.pdf)
  2. Gather, and make available, books about lines, for example, Just Line Around, by Kinsy McVay; The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky's Abstract Art, by Barb Rosenstock; and Leon's Lines, by Ember Estridge
  3. Photograph students against a light backdrop leaving lots of whitespace.
  4. Print each image on 21.6 cm x 28 cm (8.5" x 11") copy paper. 
  5. Download and display the Line and Colour posters available on this website.
  6. Download images that demonstrate the use of expressive lines from the Internet, for example,
    Elephant King
    Golden Fish
    Mount Washington
  7. Create a partially completed example.


  1. View and discuss one of the paintings, for example, Yellow-Red-Blue, by Kandinsky. Ask students:
    - What do you think is happening here?
    - What do you see that makes you say that?
    - What do you notice about Kandinsky’s use of colour, shape and line?
    - How do the lines contribute to the mood of the painting?
  2. Review, or introduce the idea of Elements of Art, the building blocks of visual art – line, colour, shape, texture, space, and form.
  3. Review, or introduce some characteristics of expressive lines.
    ​Draw and record them on a chart paper, for example,
    - thick lines – bold, strong
    - soft, fuzzy lines – peace, gentle
    - horizontal lines – calm, restful, stillness
    - vertical lines – height, strength, stability
    - soft, shallow curved lines – comfort, safety, relaxation
    - deep, sharp curved lines – confusion, agitation, turmoil
    - jagged, zigzag lines – anxiety, excitement, danger
    - diagonal lines – energy, movement
  4. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Create a crayon resist line design.
  2. Create 20 different, expressive lines that mean something to you.
  3. Identify some emotions different lines can communicate.
  4. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.
  5. Support your ideas with evidence found in the works.

The Process

  1. Ensure that everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when I have:
    - drawn crayon lines with firm pressure
    - applied the watercolour paints effectively
    - included 20 different kinds of lines
    - used lines that have personal meaning 
    - identified some emotions different lines communicate
    - kept the paper is in good condition
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  4. Observe students as they work. 
  5. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Place students into small groups. 
  2. Ask them to: 
    - share their work and discuss the things that are especially effective and why
    - talk about what they found satisfying about doing this project
    - talk about how they might use what they learned in a different way
  3. Share ideas with the whole class. 
  4. Ask students to tell how they felt about doing this project.


  1. Observe students as they work  – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting
  2. Observe students as they discuss the art works – active listening, insightful contributions, supporting ideas with evidence found in the artwork and from personal experience.
  3. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads – Lines_tracking.pdf)
  4. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads – Lines_self-assessment.pdf, or Primary-Lines_self-assessment.pdf)