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

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 EvenBunting.  (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.


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

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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.

Contour17 Contour16 Contour15

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 others’ 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.

Buste-de-danseuse Dancer-II

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:

miro63Paul 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.

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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!


Ephesians 2:10 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.

An Art a Day takes the Blues Away

As part of my commitment to help others with practical ways to teach homeschool subjects, I am starting a series on Art Activities. This is mainly as result of teaching Art in our HomesCool for the past 12 years.

I have no Art degree. I wish I had! I attended a 6 month course of Early Years Education that had a few lessons on Art and Creativity.  Somehow,  I just learned along the way. I read several books on how to teach Art, observed the teachers of the special Art classes our kids were enrolled in from time to time, and read  a whole lot on instilling creativity in children.

What I enjoy the most with teaching and doing Art is the amazing bonding with our children.  For some reason, Art is viewed as  a fun, relaxing and enjoyable time in our HomesCool so when I say we will be having Art, there are shrieks of excitement.  It is also a good way to create some “downtime” for your day. I am so thrilled as well as I learn more and more and have a go as well!  I think the children are also exhilarated as they see their own Mommy-teacher learning with them and in finding out that they draw better than me.

We also do Art in a more spontaneous way. I guess its like “Art as needed”. Depending on what we are learning in other subjects, we adjust our Art lessons. For instance, as completed the Flying Creatures series in Science (Apologia), we learned how to draw various insects, bats and birds. We even had a “Create a nest” activity from twigs!  As we learned about the Solar System, we learned how to create a giant poster of the 8 planets.  As we tackled Botany, we started experimenting on how to create various kinds of trees. For Social Studies, the kids drew the World and Philippine map, did sculpture with paper mache to create various land forms, and  as they learned about community and household concerns, we drew houses with the principles of perspective.  For History, they began designing their own coat of arms, creating 3-D ancient homes, doing comic strips, newsletter and even an amazing Viking Ship.  For Bible, we’ve done Noah’s ark,  a bookshelf of the books of the Bible, Tower of Babel and our own Nativity Scene (Belen). We also learned Powerpoint skills as part of Art/Design. The older students, using Art and computer skills, produced brochures about Philippine tourist destinations, about the Earth, United Nations, and so many other topics!   Art truly transcends all subjects !

These were the two books which somehow revolutionized my view of Art!  I hope to be able to summarize these materials in a another blog post soon.
These were the two books which somehow revolutionized my view of Art! I hope to be able to summarize these materials in a another blog post soon.


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The books we referred to in our 12 years of HomesCooling:) Eventually, many online resources became available and all you have to do is… “How to…” and type SEARCH!

Armed with some basic knowledge on some guidelines, I had to find a basic curriculum. God truly answered my prayer when I saw this in National Book Store 10 years ago, How to Teach Art to Children by Evan Moor Publications .

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What I loved about this material was the ease in implementation!  We had 4 students and so something so doable and practical was really very helpful.  At some point, you will get your own ideas on how to stretch and maximize the learning. You will also be able to connect it to the other subject matters.  Another feature I so appreciated in this material is how it presented the basic elements of Art in part one :

  • Line
  • Shape
  • Color
  • Value
  • Texture
  • Form
  • Space

And how it will show ways in which these elements can be applied in part two.

So today, let me share the first lesson/s.

1. Line  –   Google about this. What is the definition of a line? What are the various kinds of  a line?  Can you tie this up with Math ( line, ray, line segment, parallel, intersecting)? As Bob the Builder usually says, “Yes, we can!” Just spend time discussing this with your student/s. Depending on their age,  you can do many things. If younger, find story books and see how they use different kinds of lines in the illustrations. For an older artist, he can research famous artists who are known for different lines.  For Filipino artists, google Cesar Legaspi, Malang and  even Arturo Luz to see how they prefer to use certain lines or illusions of lines in their work.  You can even use body movements with a toddler or preschooler, lie down and show a horizontal!  While lying down, lift legs to make it diagonal!  Go outside the garden and find curly, spiral, zigzag lines! Oh so fun! You can even connect it to the letters of the alphabet as you ask what lines are in each letter!

So this, session on “Lines” can be stretched to maybe 2-3 sessions. The first session may not yet include any “output” but if the kids are excited to try the lesson below then let them. It can just be taking a survey of what lines can be seen at home.

The key is to first stir your children’s excitement with good exposure to the elements of Art in a fun and relaxed session.

As your children start “creating”,  just give them freedom on how they’d like to apply what they have learned. Do not limit yourself on what you expect them to create. Don’t ask, “What is that? ” Wait for him to tell you what he is drawing if you can’t seem to figure it out at first.

This is a sample of the first lesson in How to Teach Art to Children:

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You can use colored pens, colored pencils and crayons for a more colorful effect.
You can use colored pens, colored pencils and crayons for a more colorful effect.

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You can then give your students “free time” to draw making use of different lines like these two drawings below :

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I am hoping that this helps you have a good start in teaching the basic Art elements.  From lines, we will progress to shapes, colors and other elements. How exciting!  Have fun in Art!

Exodus 35:30-35
Then Moses said to the sons of Israel, “See, the LORD has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. “And He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding and in knowledge and in all craftsmanship; to make designs for working in gold and in silver and in bronze,