Paschkis ABC

In mid October I went (along with Paul Owen Lewis and Laura Kvasnosky) to visit elementary schools in eastern Washington.

I had to leave my studio for a week, speak to hundreds of children in assemblies and do lots of things that were scary or hard (and good) for me. I had to think about what I valued and about what I wanted to say to kids. I boiled my message down to a single line: Everyone can make art.Paschkis inkoI elaborated on that line. You have to spend time on art to be able to express yourself. It takes practice and hard work and a kind of perfectionism. But it also takes imperfectionism and playfulness, especially when an idea is first developing. And you have to look inside and outside of yourself.Paschkis point no pointHalf of my time there was spent giving art classes. These schools do not have art teachers or art rooms so we worked in the libraries or lunch rooms. The lack of art education in the world feeds the idea that people are either good or bad at art. I wanted to have a project that allowed for success and showed that everyone can make art. But I didn’t want a formula – I wanted each child’s work to be unique.


Steinberg drawing

I decided to focus on line – that most basic building block of drawing.We looked at lines in the world:tree-branches-silhouette-14238037knotted-aspen-bark-703029-sw

and we looked at lines in art:RandyTwaddleowl-and-pussycatwarhol drawingcalder wire

We looked at these drawings done by children (from the book Creative Drawing by Rottger and Klante) and considered how powerful it can be to repeat a line.Creative Drawingcreative drawing

Each art class had 40-50 fourth or fifth graders and lasted for an hour. After looking at lines and talking about them the kids drew. They made a series of random lines collaboratively. Then they all worked on their own drawings to turn those collaborations into creatures of their own invention. We had markers and colored pencils. Here are some of the drawings that they came up with in that hour – some in progress and some completed. (Thanks to Melani Tackett for taking many of these photographs. )


Yes, the school visits took a ton of energy and made me leave my cocoon. But it was a privilege to spend time with children and watch them draw. I hope that they keep drawing. I hope the lines run off the page.

The visits were made possible the Literacy Connection, by the Kennewick school district and by the hard work of the librarians at each of the schools. I was bowled over by the generosity and energy and kindness of the teachers and librarians that I met. What is my line now? Thank you.


19 responses to “Line

  1. what an amazing experience for all those kids!

  2. Thanks for sharing all the kids’ work – they are marvelous!

  3. Sarah Heller McFarlane

    Such a wonderful experience for everyone- I am sure that even this limited time spent together on this project will stay with most of these students their entire lives, and probably with you, too. Art is not a luxury- it needs to be part of everyday learning and living! So glad you did this 🙂

  4. What a great project! Very inspiring.

  5. Reminds me of what Picasso is said to have said….”All children are artists, the difficulty is in the keeping of the child in the man” – or some such thing. You got to them though. Those drawings are wonderful.

  6. Wonderful . The kids must have loved your visit .


  7. the kid/people’s drawings really rock
    i don’t use the term lightly
    or often

  8. Thank you so, so much for this lovely post and pics. I am a children’s musician and author and there is just something about the art of children that touches my soul. It seems so…honest…for lack of a better word.

  9. Impressive and important. Well done, Julie!

  10. I love this post. Those were lucky students to have you visit their classrooms! I plan on showing this blog entry to my middle school students and doing the same exercise with them. This could work for any age group. Thank you for sharing, Julie!

  11. What a great lesson, it looks like so much fun for them and you.

    Where did the first three pictures in the post come from? They’re beautiful.

  12. Julie, it seems pretty obvious that something you did, or said gave those kids that rare ah-ha moment when the light clicks on…. Lovely!

  13. I’m so glad the trip went well. What an inspiration for the kids to just do art and have fun with it!

  14. How fabulous! I love the drawings the students drew… you really inspired them- great job, Julie!

  15. Pingback: Even More on Lines, Architectural and Musical | Books Around The Table

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