Lesson 3: Line 2: Exploring line

Building on their learning of line, children listen to music and work expressively with a variety of media, to create a single large piece of art, inspired by water, David Hockney and Vija Celmins

Learning objective

  • To create a water effect with line

National curriculum

Pupils should be taught:

  • To develop a wide range of art and design techniques in using colour, pattern, texture, line, shape, form and space, to use drawing to develop and share their ideas, experiences and imagination
  • Evaluate and analyse creative works using the language of art, craft and design

Success criteria

  • I can draw lines to look like water
  • I can use a variety of different materials to make different types of marks
  • I can add plants and creatures to bring art to life
  • I can work collaboratively on one large piece of art
  • I know that there are many different ways of drawing lines, and that they feel different to make, and that they look different

Cross-curricular links


  • listen with concentration and understanding to a range of high-quality live and recorded

Before the lesson


This lesson is inspired by the artists Vija Celmins and David Hockney.


  • Teacher video: Making waves
  • Pupil video: Making waves
Teacher video: Making waves

Pupil video: Making waves

Have ready

Attention grabber

This is is a great warm-up activity to get pupils used to standing up around a shared space and table.

To enable pupils to work next to one another along both sides of a long table, you may have to split the class into groups, depending on the shape and size of your classroom and furniture.

Play a piece of water/river/sea-themed music, such as Debussy’s ‘La Mer’ and ask pupils what colours they are imagining while listening to the music and what kind of lines would best represent water. Ask them to use their hands and arms to ‘draw’ the lines in the air.

Show pupils:


Ask them to describe how the artists have used different materials to represent water.


Key questions

  • What did we learn about lines in the previous lesson?
  • What sort of lines are they?
  • Does it look like water?
  • What lines represent water, in a swimming pool, or a pond, or the sea, or a river?
  • What colours do you think we would see?
  • What kinds of lines are the artists using?
  • Is water an easy thing to draw or paint?
  • How does light change the way water looks?
  • What colours should we choose to use with this drawing?


Play the music again and ask them to draw big lines representing water on the paper you have laid out. Set up a space for yourself so that you can demonstrate this and join in with the activity too! Give them approximately three minutes to work, encouraging them to connect to each other’s lines.

Main event

Before playing the music again, ask children to look at and reflect on what they have done so far and make sure their lines connect to those drawn by the people on either side of them.

Then give the children a direction as to what material or line type they should be using/making when the music starts. Using music helps here because, like a game of musical chairs, they only draw when the music plays!

Play the music while the children work, then stop it again to give another instruction and repeat, until a variety of materials and techniques have been used.

When the water looks complete, ask the children what might live in the sea/river/water? Pupils’ suggestions of creatures/plants/shells etc can now be drawn in the blank spaces (these could be drawn on separate pieces of paper and added at a later session if you’re short of time).

You can adapt this activity by requesting that children change places and pick up where one of their peers left off, similar to musical chairs.

Use the Pupil video: Making waves for further demonstration, and/or have on whilst pupils are working independently, for them to refer to as they work (the video is looped so will play continuously).

Pupil video: Making waves


Pupils needing extra support: encourage to use a range of materials and draw using big, wider arm movements.


Pupils working at greater depth: will control the materials more effectively and create more accurate work. Encourage them to develop greater detail in their drawing.

Wrapping up

Ask the children to wash their hands and put the materials away safely.

While they do this, make sure the table is clear so that only the work(s) created can be seen.

Then ask the class to walk around and talk about the effect of the large artwork and to point out interesting areas. You can be specific with questions, for example: show me a wavy line, show me a soft line.

Assessing pupils' progress and understanding

Pupils with secure understanding indicated by: Experimenting with a range of mark making techniques.


Pupils working at greater depth indicated by: Linking their marks to others and responding to the music and the work of the artist.


  • Wavy

  • Waves

  • Water

  • Lines

Created by:
Susan Coles,  
Art & Design specialist
Susan is an educator, artist and an active advocate and well-known champion of art craft and design education. Her roles include: Secretary to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Art, Craft, Design Education, Past President, and now Honorary Fellow of the…
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