Direct Filmmaking: Patterns of Movement

To tie in with the exhibition Len Lye: The Absolute Truth of the Happiness Acid, we are going to experiment with the same techniques Len Lye used in his direct film making. Len Lye painted directly onto film with little or no camerawork involved. His bold, rhythmic and colourful abstract films have a feel of energies at play.

Len Lye used different tools to create movement and energy in his films. He used a comb by dragging the comb across paint on the celluloid (film) to make waves of movement and energy in his work.


You will need:

Poster Paints

Paper – any colour or type will do

A comb

An old tooth brush

Anything that would leave an interesting mark

Newspaper or a table covering

Step 1

On a covered table, lay out our paper and collected items to scratch, scrape and mark.

Step 2

Place a squirt of paint onto your paper and make waves of energy in the same way Len Lye did.

Step 3

Experiment with a comb or other everyday objects that can make marks, like an old toothbrush or an old toy car.

Step 4

Drag a comb through different coloured paints and continue to make movement and shapes.
What happens when you go slowly, stuttering or fast?

Step 5

Len Lye had names for different patterns he made using different tools.
Can you make up names for the patterns of movement you make? Like slither, fizz or pop!?

Step 6

Come and visit our new exhibition – can you spot patterns of movement in his films?
What tools do you think he used to create these?

How did your artwork turn out?

We would love to see your creation!

Share it with us, take a photo and share it on Instagram with the hashtag #GBCreate or email it to us: and we can share it for you.⁠⠀⁠⠀