Activity: Pastel Batik

Activity: Pastel Batik (Line)

(From Kathleen S)

This is a great technique for showing the beauty of children’s drawings. There are only 2 complications: young students’ fingers will fatigue from pressing hard and a little complexity is presented in the idea of drawing in chalk and then colouring around the chalk. I have seen it done with grade ones but generally it is best for grades 2 and up. After teaching the initial technique, the teacher can come back to this in an integrated science unit for example with insects or plants, an integrated math unit with overlapping shapes or a social studies unit on pioneer tools or medieval clothing.

Part 1: Lines have feelings too

First, we were asked to draw four lines to represent four emotions: exuberant, despondent, quizzical and elated. Our teacher wrote the four emotions up on the board and gave us a couple of minutes to come up with a line for each. We just used newsprint and crayons to do this.


Then, students can draw lines on newsprint paper with crayon to accompany a 2-3 minute Disney overture or other piece of music that incorporates changes of tempo and instruments. This lesson could be integrated with the music program as well. Listen to the music once without drawing while moving hand in the air to respond to changes in beat or dynamics. Now do the same on the paper with crayon. You can also do this without music. You can ask students to make one continuous line or I suppose you could also allow them to make multiple smaller lines. There is no right way to do this exercise. Share drawings with table mates.

Next, discuss making the lines more expressive by making some thicker, thinner, darker, lighter, Play music again and repeat. Or, just give students a chance to thicken some parts of their line as they wish from the previous exercise. Share again with table mates. If some parts of the line are as thick as a thumb or thicker, the piece will look more interesting.

Here is what I came up with after thickening some of the parts of my line:


Now, students will choose a colour of construction paper that they like then draw their lines with sidewalk chalk. As with the crayon lines, the next step involves varying the thickness/width of some lines to make them more expressive. Now look at the image you have created. [I didn’t take a picture at this stage unfortunately before I coloured on it with pastel!] You can ask the students to utilize at least 3 types of lines that you or someone at the table has created, or that you think up: zigzag, swirling, horizontal, vertical, dotted, widening and narrowing, etc. Name some for the students.

Consider: Does it look calm and peaceful, energetic, playful, earthy? How can you use colours to enhance this feeling? For example, green paper with brown, orange and blue-green will look more earthy and black paper with white and red will look bold and dramatic. Have students lay out some oil pastels on top of their paper and guess each others’ ideas for the feelings of their piece. When comfortable, students will colour all the areas not covered with chalk. Be careful not to colour over your chalk. When done, check with teacher to make sure all areas are covered and put the piece flat down in the sink. Run cold water over it and rub the chalk lines with your hand to get rid of all of the chalk. Magically the colour of the paper appears and makes the artwork glow. Dry flat on opened plastic bags so the ink from the paper doesn’t stain the counter.

Here is how mine turned out!


You can then follow up with a Nonjudgmental Critique:

  • All gather around a central table or sit around work placed on the carpet.
  • Find a piece with at least 3 kinds of lines.
  • Find a piece with interesting variations in thickness of lines.
  • Find a piece with a colour scheme that shows a feeling.
  • Find a piece that hasn’t been mentioned but that you feel is successful in some way.
  • Remind students that not all pieces will be discussed in the critique, but that you will be placing a comment on the back for each person to read.