This is the first in a series of six posts about an art class hosted by Teal Art Gallery.
Last Sunday I hosted my first of six art classes that center on the elements of design. For anyone who was not able to come to class or is just interested, I thought I would rehash (heh, heh, English line pun) the class out on my blog.
Line is the most fundamental element of art. It is what we were first taught to use in preschool art, it is what was found on the earliest cave drawings. Like most fundamental things, lines can be simple like stick figures or complex to show a huge range of textures, shapes, shadows, atmospheres, speeds and so on an so forth. Line is one of the most undervalued members of the elements of design, but it defines things as complex as composition, shape and plane.
What makes a line paradoxically easy yet difficult? Line is literally finding the essence of the thing you are drawing, and distilling it into a recognizable line. Fortunately, people have seen most every object in art before and can put together two and two. Therefore, it is not essential that one draw a silhouette and all of the obvious things inside like the nose eyes and ears of a person. In distilling this image in your head, you don’t need to draw the whole person. Only draw the absolutely defining moments. Perhaps you should emphasize the nice smile wrinkles or perhaps the way the hair floats out from the head. Drawing the whole person seems a bit unnecessary as everyone knows what people look like.
Well how is a line distilled? A line can vary in thickness, density, hardness (straight edged) or speed (smooth or wavering). These characteristics come from looking and using your eyes to find the important things that you would need to define the shape. Different mediums create different lines. Charcoal is usually a fairly soft line with a low density of pigments and a soft edge. Calligraphy brushes (like the Chinese and Japanese use) range from wet, hard lines to dry, soft lines. Lines can also be different variations in a color. As with black, there is every tone of gray with which one could make a line.
Enough of the technical talk, lets get to exercises! What are the rules? Number one: no agonizing. Agonizing will affect the quality of your line and slow it down or make it too dark. Also, it is bad for blood pressure. Number two: no sketching. Sketching is the act of making short hairy lines. The only reason to use hairy lines is if you are, in fact, drawing hair or perhaps grass. Number three: no erasing. Line drawing is not for the faint of heart. Put your pen/ whatever down, and draw the bloody line.
Exercises: Draw ten one minute drawings of anything that inspires your line senses. Use a timer that beeps. Focus on quality of line. Try to distill what you are drawing until people can get the feel for it without seeing every detail. Then move to a longer time, but remember, no agonizing, and don’t stop using line quickly like in the one minute drawings.
Homework due Sunday, 27, Draw two line drawings of anything that inspires you. These drawings must use a variety of line, and inspire good composition. (basically, it has to fill up the whole page (you could use a smaller page) and it has to feel like it has depth because of the line.)
Georgia O'Keeffe's Winter Road
Ancient Chinese Landscape
What do blue and green make?