How to Make 15-Line Drawings

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Sunday, November 24, 1912:  Didn’t even get to Sunday School this morning because it was raining, then it changed to snow. And today became the first day of the snow fall.

Source: Farm Journal (October, 1912)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

What did Grandma do on rainy Sunday mornings like this one?  Did she ever doodle or draw pictures to while away the time?

Maybe Grandma saw  these directions for making fifteen line pictures in the October, 1912 issue of Farm Journal:

Draw a picture with fifteen straight lines. Just fifteen, and no more. Take any subject, landscape, animal, bird, fruit, flower, a household article, or even a human being. The object is to produce a striking picture in fifteen lines. This is lots of fun and in a short time you will be surprised what you can do.

I’ve become hooked on 15 line drawings.  Ever since I read this suggestion, my doodling has become more purposeful, and I enjoy the mental challenge of trying to make really cool 15-line drawings.

There was a follow-up article about how to do 15 line drawings as a child’ party activity in the November 1912 issue of Farm Journal.

Here’s how to have a picture party: Give each boy and girl a pencil and three sheets of paper. Tell them to draw something in fifteen straight lines; a different picture on each sheet of paper. Let them work for fifteen minutes, then collect the papers and fasten them on the wall. and have the entire party vote for the best drawing. The one whose drawing received the most votes is the prizewinning one.

10 Responses

  1. That is an interesting idea. I don’t think I would have a vote for the best but I like the drawing in 15 lines idea.

  2. Do you use a ruler, or do you freehand your lines? Will you be sharing your best picture with us?

    • I just draw freehand. They’d probably look better if I used a ruler. I’ll have to think about whether to share–my art skills definitely have limitations. :)

  3. Oh! I think we all want to see your drawings! Great idea!

  4. This is defiantly going on the list of games for my next get together.

  5. Fun challenge! I wish you’d have included some of yours :) And I agree with kristin on not having a contest for kids, especially if they are having fun. It might put a crimp in a future Picasso.

  6. I’m doing research about 100-years-ago for our upcoming 100th Almond Festival in our region, the Capay Valley in Northern California. I think your site will give me lots of ideas. Thanks!

    • Thank you for taking a moment to write the nice note. I have a lot of fun doing this blog, and it’s always wonderful to hear when someone finds it useful.

  7. I am enjoying reading all the stories. I will be doing the crabapple receipys today.. from Toronto, Canada.

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