Welcome to The Helpful Art Teacher, an interdisciplinary website linking visual arts to math, social studies, science and language arts.

Learning how to draw means learning to see. A good art lesson teaches us not only to create but to look at, think about and understand our world through art.

Please click on my page to see my personal artwork and artist statement: http://thehelpfulartteacher.blogspot.com/p/the-art-of-rachel-wintembe.html

Please contact me at thehelpfulartteacher@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Varying the lines you use creates a more interesting drawing. This drawing uses straight lines, curved lines, thick lines, thin lines, hatching, cross-hatching, spirals, scribbles and zig-zags.

Before reading this post click here for a list of art supplies and resources (and where you can buy them) to create your own wonderful line drawings.

Below is the sphere pattern I used in the above video:

Printable worksheets 
by the helpful art teacher.

Understanding line, shape and form

Here is the pencil sketch of my picture before I added the rhythmic lines. While this pencil sketch is 'good', it is not nearly as engaging as the finished picture.

Look at the artwork of these famous illustrators to gain a better understanding of how you can use line in your own artwork:

Looking at a picture and noticing the lines the artist used will enable you to copy any drawing accurately. Follow the directions in the worksheet below. This really works!

Try this trick with any linear drawing, no matter how complex. You will surprise yourself.

Artists use line to express volume
Using the worksheet below, try adding different types of lines to transform flat shapes into three-dimensional forms
Click on the link below to learn about the work of Carl Krull, an artist who uses line to express volume:

Drawings by Carl Krull

Artists use line to express movement

Some examples of illustrations that use lines to express movement by Arthur Rackham

This illustration depicts a windy day. 
How do we know it is windy? 

Who Has Seen the Wind?

Who has seen the wind?

Neither I nor you.

But when the leaves hang trembling,

The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?

Neither you nor I.

But when the trees bow down their heads,

The wind is passing by.

If wind is invisible, as the poem says, how can we draw it?

Can you use your knowledge of different types of lines to create a picture that shows a windy day?

Here are some stock photographs I found on the Internet of windswept trees to get you started.

Aliciasmom's sky reference photos album on Photobucket
The album above uses a Flash player. If you are on a mobile device and do not have a Flash player, you can see my album of sky reference photographs by clicking on the link below: 

Whenever I look at clouds, I am fascinated by the beauty of the sinuous, curving biomorphic lines

Here is how some of my 5th and 6th grade students illustrated the wind and made the invisible visible:

How would you use clouds to show the wind blowing in your own picture? What type of lines would you use?

How did Vincent Van Gogh Depict Movement in his famous painting, Starry Night? What type of lines did he use?

How did Katsushika Hokusai use line to express movement?http://www.katsushikahokusai.org/

Free Printable Worksheet From Line And Form by Walter Crane
Click on the link below to download this free ebook:

Practice using line to show movement by looking at this
waterfall in slow motion: 
How would you draw the lines that show the falling water?
What sort of lines would you draw to show the water splashing up?
How many different types of lines do you see?
How can repeating a line many times in a rhythmic pattern increase the feeling of movement in a picture?
 How can varying the thickness of a line and the distance between rhythmic lines help to express movement? 

Artists use line to show texture

With just a few lines, Arthur Rackham creates the softness of Alice's hair, the bushy disheveled fur of the field mouse and even the folds of fabric on Alice's dress. 

In the Van Gogh drawings below, you can almost feel the textures of the landscape.

 Artists use line to depict space.

Artists use thicker lines in the foreground and thinner, more delicate lines in the background, to create the illusion of distance in their pictures.

Here are some more of Van Gogh's drawings

The print below is the work of Jean Millet, Vincent Van Gogh's favorite artist. Notice how the lines in the background are lighter in value, thinner and more delicate, creating the illusion of three dimensional space.

Here is a video of my cousin, Hiroko, teaching me about Japanese sumi brush painting. See how she uses line, shape, form,movement, texture and space to create a snake, dragon and octopus, with simple brush strokes.

From The Helpful Art Teacher's Sketchbook
Using Line To Show Movement
Graphic pen on paper by Rachel Wintemberg
Watercolor on paper by Rachel Wintemberg

Artists use line to create rhythmic designs and patterns.
This is particularly useful for designing fabrics or wallpaper. 

If you repeat a line, or create a repeating pattern using a series of lines, your artwork will have a sense of rhythmic movement.


Why is it important to vary the line width and add shadows?
 Look at the last student's artwork (above) 
and then click on the thumbnail 
to compare it to a picture of his unfinished work:
Varying the line width and adding shadows will make your picture more interesting to look at.

To lean more about how artist use line, please click on the link below to read my post rhythmic line designs and patterns. That article contains many photographs, project ideas and printable worksheets to inspire your creativity.


  1. Thank you..a nice,clean,approach to learning various methods for study and enhancement of movements,for props and perspective...

  2. Awesome webpage and a great tool for me to help my students understand. Thank you for the hard work. Mrs. C. Oklahoma City

  3. This page is AMAZING! Thank you so so much. This has helped me a lot as I have been worried about teaching art properly and not just getting them to 'draw a picture'.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing your hard work. This is really useful!

  5. Superb gallery of information.ihave fallen in love with it.Thank you so much.

  6. I extremely LOVE this blog!! I just desire I will get more posts for great information. Jacqui

  7. Thank You, I have never taught art and this helped me so much to introduce line, movement and space.

  8. Wonderful presentation and suggestions for a learner's engagement. Thank you.

  9. nice sharing! this kind of art mix use with the brown colour kraft paper is a perfect match.

  10. Very informative and well structured article.

  11. You have brought up a very superb points, appreciate it for the post.