May 23, 2012

One Line Design - inspired by Paul Klee

The One Line Design lesson that I do based on a lesson from MaryAnn Kohl's book "Discovering the Great Artists" is one of my favorite art lessons.

First I show a Power Point about Paul Klee's artwork, which you can download by clicking on the title below. I have already posted about it before in a post called Art Appreciation using Technology.

We talk about the artworks. I observe which ones the children are more interested in and after all the talking and wondering I go back to the "Dramatic Landscape" painting and I outline it on the white board then turn off the computer and projector and the kids can see the lines only. Then I color some of the spaces with colored white board markers to exemplify what kind of work we can do inspired by Paul Klee's painting. I tell the students we call it the 'one line design' because we start a line and go on and on until we are happy with the design. At this point we have already discussed that abstract art does not need to have a person or objects in it. Colors, forms and shapes are good enough.

I do not live in the 'Land of Sharpies' so I give regular permanent markers for the kids to do the lines. The thicker the better. The 'chisel tip' markers are not very good for this kind of work as you want thick lines but they were the only ones we had available so I had to show the students how to use them.

After the lines are ready they use watercolor to color the spaces created by the lines.

Then I wash or help the students wash the paintings for two reasons. The watercolor looks more uniform and the kids tend to paint over the lines. After the painting is washed you can see the black lines clearly and the colors look better. You have to be careful not to wash too much or the colors will be faded to the point it is too dull.

Notice how we can see the black lines much better. 

And here are some of them. 


  1. The paintings are amazing. I love the intent concentration on the kids' faces as they are painting.
    What do you mean by "washing" the paintings.

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  2. Thanks Sandi! The children were really into their artwork. By washing I mean literally washing the painting under running water in a sink. The photo I posted does not show it very well I will try to find another one.