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Lesson 2: Brush Exploration, Making Lines and Marks

Line, shape, and color are sensory phenomena that must be recognized and built up as concepts in order to guide actions in painting. Moving with material and watching its responses is integral to this learning process.”

– Nancy Smith


Grade Level

3 & 4 year olds

Media Theme/ Big Idea

Painting Explorations

Essential Question

What kinds of marks and lines can I make with a paintbrush?

  • Unit & Lessons
  • Teaching Guide

Materials and Tools

  • 18” x 24” white paper 80#
  • Black paint in soufflé cup
  • 1” brush
  • Half inch Brush
  • Tray


Step 1: Invitation to Explore

  • “What do you notice on my tray?” 
  • Explore the two different size paintbrushes. 
  • “Why do you think I have two different size paintbrushes?” 
  • “What kinds of lines can I make with the bigger brush?” 
  • “What kinds of lines can I make with the smaller brush?” 
  • “What do you see in the cup?” 
  • Review removing the lid from the soufflé cup.
  • “Let’s see what happens when we dip our brush into the paint and move it along the paper.” 
  • Explore many different kinds of lines and marks- asking the students to think of and draw in the air different kinds of lines. 
  • Encourage students to use their whole arm while exploring lines.

Step 2: Work-time

  • Invite 3-4 students to the art center. 
  • Encourage them to stand or sit- whichever is more comfortable for them so that they can use their whole arm as they move the brush around the paper. 
  • Each student has his own tray with a cup of paint and brush.
  • Review how to remove the lid off of the soufflé cup and place cup on the lid. 
  • Comment on the kinds of lines students create.

Step 3: Reflection

What kinds of lines and marks do you see?


Paint, paintbrush, handle, bristle, liquid, line, straight, curvy, wavy, zigzag, spiral, dotted, broken, diagonal, vertical, horizontal, fat, skinny, thick, thin