Inspiring children one color at a time

Line Drawing: Graphic Squares

By on Jul 22, 2009 | 10 comments

Using simple art supplies like markers, paper and paint, kids draw graphic elements in a grid. Pop art art lesson.

These graphic illustrations are perfect for fourth grade when many children love to doodle. Instead of leaving the drawings black and white, you can take it a step further and either color in with marker or watercolor paints.

Drawing a Grid

It doesn’t really matter how the kids divide up their paper, but I can tell you what’s easiest. Two straight lines across the paper and two lines down. Simple. Of course, some kids will go a bit crazy adding intersecting lines, but they will figure out that this method is limiting.

Drawing Shapes, Lines and Patterns

Using simple art supplies like markers, paper and paint, kids draw graphic elements in a grid. Pop art art lesson.

This step can either be fun or frustrating. Many kids will go to town creating their lines and patterns, but many won’t. Ideas will expire after the second square, so be a good Girl Scout and be prepared. Have a plethora of squiggles and patterns available to them. You can do this in a couple of ways. Either provide them with a handy-dandy handout (obviously this is not my method or it would be included in this post) or run amok and create some of your own patterns¬†on the white board. Brainstorm. Have fun. Create some lousy patterns and some good ones. Need not be perfect.

Tip: Use a waterproof black marker. Sharpies are the ideal choice but if such pens aren’t available, use Prismacolor markers. Expensive, but are waterproof. To avoid the waterproof problem all together, don’t use watercolor paints in Step 3.

Coloring in

As I mentioned above, you must use a waterproof black marker if you intend to paint the patterns. If you don’t, you will end up with black smears covering the paper. I subjected one such class to this unfortunate blunder, and although the kids were enthusiastic in spirit, I know it caused inner turmoil with my young artists. But let’s face it, using markers is easier and requires less set-up. So dig out your bins of markers and let the kids go at it. This is a great activity for kids to finish up during “free time” so keep the art accessible.

Making the Art Dramatic

To kick this piece up a notch, add strips of black construction paper along the straight lines. Use a glue stick and make sure the kids snip off the ends. I think it finishes the piece well, but it does take some time.

Note: This art project takes longer to complete than you might expect. I allowed two 45-minute sessions for this project and only 25% finished the entire project. Many kids didn’t want to complete it becasue it took so much time, so here’s a thought. Cut your paper in half. I used a 12″ x 18″ piece so reduce it to 9″ x 6″ and you’ll increase your productivity.

Using simple art supplies like markers, paper and paint, kids draw graphic elements in a grid. Pop art art lesson.


  1. Love this! So simple but so effective. Thanks so much for all the ideas!


    July 22, 2009

  2. Another wonderful idea. I think you're right about the black construction paper, it really finishes of the work!


    July 25, 2009

  3. Thanks for sharing all the ideas! I just came across your blog last week, I am homeschooler and we are in the middle of an art unit study, and your ideas are a great addition to it!


    July 27, 2009

  4. What a great idea. In addition to being stand-alone art, the pages can be laminated for very special placemats or used as wrapping paper for Mother or Dad.

    Cia Huston Dreves

    August 5, 2009

  5. After you use the watercolor markers you go over them with water? I have never used watercolor markers and didn't know of such. I know I have watercolor pencils. How do you go over the markers with water without making a mess and smearing all the colors?

    Brannan Lawson

    September 5, 2010

  6. Brannan: I had a typo. Use waterproof markers, not watercolor markers. Now the post will no doubt make more sense!

    Patty Palmer

    September 5, 2010

  7. Yes,thank you for responding. I got it now. I am planning on using this for my 3rd grades to include the element of line. Thanks for the awesome lesson. I love this website!!

    Brannan Lawson

    September 10, 2010

  8. I’m using this lesson but stepping it up a notch with my Year 6’s by encouraging them to use line and colour carefully to create a different mood or feeling from each section. For example, using jagged lines and reds to create an angry feeling, or flowing lines to create a calm feeling. So far they are looking great. I can’t wait to see them finished!


    February 6, 2012

  9. This is such an accessible project, as many on this site are. I’m going to add a lesson on color along with the doodles and ask my class to use primary/secondary/complementary/warm/cool colors in each of their different sections.


    September 22, 2012

  10. Hi there, just wanted to say I’m a frustrated artist/primary teacher who finds it really difficult to find inspiring stand-alone art lesson ideas. No more now I’ve found your page! THe skills section is perfect in supporting Scotland’s Art outcomes in Curriculum for Excellence. Thank you!


    April 17, 2013


  1. HMJ: September 23-27, 2013 | Hope Is the Word - [...] this refreshing little break, all three of the big kids did a bit of drawing and watercoloring while I …

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