Pendulum Painting

Create unique and interesting designs every time.

Are you tired of students making the same cliché designs?

Hands-on, All level. This lesson incorporates science and gives you unlimited unique line design possibilities. Then you can use these paintings to teach composition through cropping, as a background or as a design to apply color theory.

I started with these 2 sites to get an idea of where to begin. I like video so I watched the 1st tutorial. It has a step by step video on the web page. The second link shows elementary kids, even toddlers, making great pieces.

I first selected some students who are in Boy Scouts and some who are mechanically inclined. The whole class watched the video and everyone got excited. However, this smaller group engineered the apparatuses (2 smaller tri-pods and a larger one that hangs from my classroom ceiling). They used their lashing training and knot skills. I don't think you have to have this level of expertise but I sure do appreciate their skills.

Each pendulum had a team of students working together. Everyone cleaned when necessary. Everyone had input into color, movement and problem solving.

  • Mechanic for the pendulum
  • 2-3 people in charge of paper. Cutting, laying it out, moving it when necessary, then putting it on the outside patio to dry.
  • Paint mixers (2-3)

I also had a group of 4-5 students who researched pendulums and their history. They put together a presentation for the class and took turns taking pictures of the groups and videoing.

Finished Artwork

Students took the large paintings and cut the best parts into smaller pieces. We are going to use these to continue learning about color theory. They are going to have to apply different color schemes to the sections of the artwork.

My Art 1 Students will use 1 of these for each color scheme we study. I will update this site with finished pictures when I have them.

You could use these designs for Zentangle, backgrounds, value studies, wrapping paper etc. The possibilities are endless. Comment below if you have other ideas of how to use this painting project.

Works in Progress

Problem Based Learning at its best!

I got this basic idea from another art teacher. I knew I wanted my students to try this, but I certainly was not an expert, much less knowledgeable, and I don't have the extra time to figure this out before students were involved. I gave the "problem" to them. They consulted with me about supplies they needed and possible solutions to problems, but they were ultimately in charge. They researched and discussed ways to solve issues as a group. They took ownership and loved every minute.

When a group would get their pendulum ready to paint, most everyone would circle around to watch. They were pulling out their technology devices to take pictures and video. It was their idea to document this process and they asked my permission. Of course we should! I don't know why I didn't think of that sooner.

I knew where I wanted this to go, but I didn't know if we would get there or the path we would take. I was learning along with them.

If you feel like you always need to know the answer before students explore a concept, I urge you to try something like this! You will be amazed at your student's inquisitivness. Don't be afraid to take a risk or even fail. With failure, comes learning too. Remember, school (and especially art) is about the process and the learning that takes place during that process. Sometimes the product is successful and sometimes we learned what not to do next time.


This is an on-going project and site.

I will be updating this site with:

  1. links to the student research
  2. pictures of finished artwork
  3. student reflections
  4. more videos of students working and discussing

Please check back in a couple of weeks for most of this information.

Shannon Weaver

Coppell Middle School North

Art Teacher