There is Art In Lines

It could be said that the simplest action of an artist’s stroke is the best way to recognise their capabilities. There is versatility in every line, in its ability to define shapes, pattern, form, structure and depth, but lines can also create movement, emotion and even visual illusion. In fact, it is arguably one of the most important elements of visual art and there is something so fundamentally authentic about artwork that features the line. Line art often establishes itself in black and white (though not always), with factors like shading and colour removed to allow the focus to be solely on the lines themselves. The possibilities are endless when it comes to line art. Here are just a few examples to consider.

Organic lines are soft and flow like the curves found in nature and they appear natural and imperfect. They tend to have less mathematical structure and they do not follow any distinct path or direction. For instance, in the work of Christa Rijneveld, the lines move across the contours of the mountains, to represent the ever flowing dynamics of nature.

Lines that are used to define the shape or form of an object or a figure, or to highlight key details of an image are called contour lines (or outlines). Pablo Picasso’s portrait of Igor Stravinsky is a great example of this, showing the very fundamentals of contour lines in the portrait.

Line uses such as hatching and cross hatching are linear drawing techniques that can be used to imply texture, value and shading. For instance, Vincent Van Gogh’s postman drawing, explores how shading and dimension can be achieved with cross hatching, with the line work creating depth and value to the image.

It is also important to remember the implied line in the artwork. Implied lines are not created physically but through the power of implication, we as viewers can connect the dots (literally or figuratively) to form the lines ourselves. The Sistine Chapel by Michaelangelo, is one of the most distinguished paintings in the world and is a fantastic example of the implied line. The two subjects point at each other, but do not touch, with the space between their finger tips creating an applied line that is the critical focal point of the entire painting. You can also visualise an implied line from their line of sight as they look at each other.