The Power of Line

“Sax and Line”
Watercolor, 11 x 15
“Still Doodle 100”
watercolor, 15 x 22

Line has been used for centuries to create various kinds of art. In drawing, of course, much of that discipline is controlled by line. In painting, also, line plays a vital part in causing the mind to ‘see’ the artist’s intention. And, line can be both expressed directly, or it is often implied by ‘points’ or objects, where the mind imagines the connections and, therefore, can ‘see’ the ‘lines.’

As an element of design, line is often the first element put into play by the artist as he or she sketches or outlines objects and placement thereof onto canvas or paper. It isn’t until later that shading (values), texture and color are added to express some visual feeling of form and space. Line itself can be the dominant element in a painting. If used in certain ways, it can suggest, without actually delineating, shape or form through simple gestural movement in the picture space.

It is often challenging, enlightening and entertaining to select a single element from the list of seven elements and bring it to prominence in a painting. What is more, such choices can often set up ideas for new paintings.

I have shown some line ideas here in these two doodles (that’s what I am coming to call experiments that have no purpose of ever becoming a finished or a “work of art.” Notice how shape is merely suggested with line. Also, you may find some of the lines worthy of noting simply for their own ‘beauty’ or character.

Line is used in the still life doodle to show contour, surface, texture, direction and even shadow. . . . . .all of those things without actually saying any those things expressly. The other piece, line is used as a gestural suggestion without defining shape. The mind has to fill in the blanks.
Enjoy thinking about it.

One thought on “The Power of Line”

  1. A thought provoking posting Mike.
    I have never considered drawing a few lines and seeing them emerge into a watercolour painting.

    I will surely give this posting a lot of thought, for it seems to suggest a bridge between my rather style of painting and abstract art.

Join in and comment!