Lesson #1: Exploring line and color

Part of the unit: Drawing a Family Portrait |


How can we use line and color to show feelings?
Students will be able to:
Explain how artists express feelings in their artwork.
Express a range of emotions through color and line.
Experiment with blending and layering of oil pastels.
Students will understand that:
Artists employ a variety of line in their work.
Line and color can be used to express emotion.
Art materials (oil pastels) can be manipulated to produce different results.
9"x12" white paper, pencils, boxes of 12 assorted color oil pastels, tools for sgriffito and scratching such as popsicle or orange sticks.
Reproductions of drawings containing a variety of lines and colors that convey emotion.  Suggested artists/illustrators include Kathe Kollwitz (Mother and Child) and Trina Schart Hyman (images from Peter Pan)
Show the class the reproductions of the artists' drawings.  Invite students to look closely at each.
  • How does this drawing make you feel?
  • How are these drawings similar?  How are they different?
  • The artists used a variety of lines.  What type of lines do you see?
Ask students to identify and describe the various lines they see.  Co-create a chart on the board by labeling three columns:  Type of Line;  Drawing of Line;  Feeling.  Under Type of Line elicit responses such as straight, wavy, zig zag.  Ask student volunteers to draw the appropriate line in the next column.  Elicit words that describe how that line feels in the third column. The chart can be extended by listing and drawing types of lines not in evidence in the reproductions. Upon completion of the chart, ask students: 
  • What have we learned about lines?
Explain that today's art experience will involve making expressive drawings using oil pastels.  Distribute 9x12 white drawing paper and demonstrate how to fold it in half. Direct the students' attention to a chalk board list of opposite pairs, using examples such as:  happy/sad, quiet/noisy, fast/slow, fearful/brave, silly/serious. Demonstrate how to use a black oil pastel to draw lines that illustrate one of the paired words on one half of the paper. 
  • What colors could I add to emphasize this feeling?
Teacher demonstrates adding additional colors.
  • What would happen if I put one color on top of another?
  • What would happen if I used my finger to blend two colors?
  • What would happen if I use a stick to scratch into a color?
Explain that there are many ways to create interesting effects with oil pastels.  Invite volunteers to participate in a demonstration of oil pastel techniques such as layering, blending, and sgraffito.
Distribute sets of oil pastels and tools for sgraffito.  Students will select one pair of words to explore with line and color.  Each word will be represented on one half of the paper.  Emphasize that there should be an obvious difference in feeling between both sides of the paper.
Today we talked about the way artists use lines and colors to show feelings. Then we worked in a similar way. Recruit a volunteer to share his/her drawing.  Ask the class the following questions:
  • Which pair of words do you think these drawings portray?
  • Describe how line and color were used. 
  • Did anyone else select this pair of words? What colors/lines did you use?
  • We can see that there are many ways to represent a feeling. How is this possible?
To summarize: There are many different ways to express the same feeling;  each approach is interesting because it is unique. The next time we meet, we will be using lines and colors to make a drawing that expresses our feelings about an activity that we enjoy.  
Think about an activity you like to do with your family.*  Where does the activity take place?  Who will be in the picture?   (*As an option, students may select an activity that they do with friends.)