Art teachers were STEAM-ing before STEAM was cool!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Movement With Lines

This is a great project that uses only a couple of supplies (and a bit of patience) to create a piece that transforms from "ho-hum" into "WOW!" This is a great way to illustrate how various lines can show movement. 

Horizontal lines are sleepy and calm. Vertical lines are strong and stand still, but diagonal lines seem to slide and move, bringing our eye from one side of the page to the other and then "whoosh!" off the page! We start off this exercise by using the ruler to create a series of diagonal lines and color them in with markers. Then, we cut the piece up and fan the strips out and create another type of line...a swirly, curving line that also shows movement! This is also a nice op-art activity. You can use complementary colors for your diagonal lines or a full rainbow of color. Experiment and enjoy the process!

Movement With Lines

Supplies Needed:
  • One sheet of white construction paper, 9"x12"
  • One sheet of black construction paper, 12"x18"
  • Ruler
  • Pencil and eraser
  • Markers, assorted colors
  • Glue sticks

1. Draw a series of diagonal lines on the white construction paper. You can draw three smaller lines going across the page or fill the space with lines. Both look great, in my opinion.

2. Color in the diagonal lines using markers.

This is the "Before" Photo

3. Flip the page over and divide the page into twenty-four 1/2" wide strips. Use your ruler for this and try to be as precise as possible. BEFORE you cut the strips apart, number them on the back from 1-24 at one end (the same end of the strips for all numbers).

This photo is kind of hard to see, but it shows all of the strips
numbered on the back at the same end.
Now, this is where it gets a little bit tricky. I'm sure you can do this many ways, but I made three of these and I finally landed on this way of doing it.

4. Cut out the strip marked #12. Put glue on the back and glue it on your black construction paper background in the middle, like this:

Strip # 12 glued on in the center
of the black paper (hold the black
construction paper vertically)

5. Now you can cut strip #11 out and put glue on the back of it. Overlap the left edge of the strip over the left edge of the previous strip (in this case, strip #12), fanning the right edge out slightly (about 1/2"). Repeat with strips 10-1 (working away from you) until you get through strip #1, forming a nice curve with the strips. Use the photo as a guide.

7. Once you have finished gluing down strip #1. Place glue on the back of strip #13 and overlap the right edge of the strip over the right edge of strip #12, fanning the left edge down slightly (about 1/2").

8. Repeat with strips 14-24 until you get through all the strips, forming a nice curve in the opposite direction with the strips. Use the picture as a guide.

It is OK if the ends of the strips continue off the edge of the page. You can leave them that way or trim them to the edge of the black construction paper.

This project is good for the older child since they may be more tolerant of cuting up their artwork and transforming it into something else. Also, they are more capable of handling the precise measuring and cutting this project needs in order to be successful. It took me three times to get all the strips to fit on the black construction paper properly. But I really liked all of the other attempts I made too. It's an experiment, so don't get too stressed!



  1. This is so great. What a fantastic way to show line movement. Love!

  2. You give FABULOUS directions for projects and they are so dynamic!!!

    1. Thank you, Jen & Kara! This project was lots of fun to do (and to figure out). I try really hard to make the directions clear. Thank you so much for stopping by! Mrs. P

  3. awesome, awesome lesson. I cant wait to try it with my kids as well. I agree, your directions are spot on! http://clippingsfromthestudiofloor.blogspot.com/

  4. This is wonderful! Thank you.

  5. what grade did you do this project with? I LOVE it!

  6. This project isn't very complex in the beginning (students just make lines and color in sections). The complexity comes in the second part where they need to number, cut and glue the pieces down in a specific order to get the proper effect. That is why I would suggest doing this with sixth grade. Of course, you can do this with smaller, more advanced groups of younger students (5th grade) and even younger students (possibly as young as 3rd) if you are working with a handful or one-to-one. Hope this helps! Mrs. P

  7. How long did it take your students to be finished with this project??

    1. I did this with my private art students. It was a while back, but the third grader was a quick worker and it took her two sessions (1 hour each session), the older student (7th grade) took about 3 sessions (1 hour each session). I'd plan for 3 50 minute classes if you are doing it with a group. Make sure they number all of their little strips before cutting them out so they can keep track of them and glue them down in the proper order. Since doing this with a couple of different age students, I'd suggest doing it with middle school students (6th maybe?), since they'd be more patient and detail-oriented. Good luck!

    2. I LOVE this lesson! To make it simpler, I photocopied the numbered and measured lines onto the paper. The students color the stripes on the other side, then just cut it on the lines. I did it this way so that I could leave it with a sub to color the stripes. Then I will finish the lesson with them when I get back. She is doing it with them today, so I will see how they turn out! I only have 45 minute classes, so I was looking for a way to save some time. Also, kids are constantly being pulled out of my class to make up their academic work, so getting into anything that is too involved is difficult. I would like to be able to have them practice measuring and using a ruler, etc. but with my schedule, that doesn't work.

  8. love the art

    Holly Richardson

    Waiwera south


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