A Morning of Painting and Movement

It was the second visit to the fifth-floor Art Room for Class 1, and their teacher, Lauren McCarty, had a wonderful cross-disciplinary activity planned. “We’re going to do some drawing, painting and movement,” she told them. “Are we ready?”

Noting that today’s lesson was called “Dancing Lines,” she spun a digital wheel projected on the classroom’s big screen. With each spin, the dial landed on a type of line like horizonal, dotted, zig zag and such. With energetic music playing, the students spread out and gamely made similar shapes with their bodies, joined by Ms. McCarty, whose wearable string lights moved along with her.

Following this playful and challenging warm-up, the Lower Schoolers were tasked with translating their physical movements into visual art. Again, the digital wheel whirled, while the students waited with anticipation. When it paused, Ms. McCarty asked, “Now, can you make a diagonal line with your pastels?”

Sitting at tables, the students selected crayons from a tray and began to embellish their thick white boards with an imaginative array of diagonal lines. Next, they made wavy lines and also learned that “parallel” meant “straight but never meeting.” Ms. McCarty prompted, “Can your lines travel from one side of the board to the other?” In between focused drawing time, some students continued to twist, swivel and twirl, moves that added to the exuberant morning.

The middle part of class was devoted to painting. Wearing dark-blue smocks, the students took turns picking up watercolor paint sets and small brushes from a counter and practicing filling cups with water, which they carefully carried to their tables. Ms. McCarty gave these young artists free reign to create whatever they wanted, as long as lines were incorporated into their designs. “You can add more lines to your lines or colors around your lines,” she suggested.

With snippets of dance videos showing on the screen, the students worked diligently on their pieces, swirling their brushes in rich hues and experimenting with texture, color and patterns. They were encouraged to study their pictures from different angles (“I turned mine upside down!” one student exclaimed), to gain inspiration from their classmates’ work, and to maximize their surface areas. “Point to a part of your board where nothing is happening,” instructed Ms. McCarty. “Show that part a little love.”

Everyone was having lots of fun making their lines dance. With delicate diagonals, zesty zig-zags and wondrous waves, each picture-in-progress seemed as unique as the person creating it. As clean-up time neared, Ms. McCarty reminded her class about the important rules of the Art Room: First, stop working; second, put away your projects.

Their work safely stored on a metal drying rack, the students cleaned up their messes, put away the pastels and the paints, washed their hands and tossed the smocks into a storage bin. A few volunteers even helped their teacher set up the tables for the next group.

With a few minutes to spare before the period ended, Ms. McCarty tuned the music back on and let her students dance again. As they waved their arms in the air and skipped around the room, their joy was unmistakable. During the next meeting, Class 1 will finish their “Dancing Lines” pieces, the first of many confidence-building and creative endeavors in Lower School Art.