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What is a

Line ?

What is a line? Geometrically, it connects two points. A line is a path traced by a moving
point, i.e. a pencil point or a paintbrush. We see lines all around us. Line is a vital element of
any artwork.
Line = moving distance between two points

Actual and Implied lines.


Actual lines

Actual lines are marks or objects that are real lines; they exist physically. Examples of actual
lines include lines painted on a highway, tree branches, lines incised on the surface of
gravestone, telephone poles, neon signs, and words on a page. Contour lines define the edges
of objects, like the sides of a bookcase, the edges of a table, a boulder, a window. Contour lines
define both the edges of the object and the negative space between them, such as the space
between the rungs of a ladder.

Contour lines that describe the edges of objects


and the negative space between them
Implied lines
Implied lines are lines that we see in our minds eye that fill in the spaces between objects,
such as a line of lights in the ceiling and the rows of windows in a large office
building. Implied lines are also found in the gaze between two people. We imagine a line that
goes from one persons eyes to the other. Implied lines can also extend beyond the edges of an
artwork.

Implied lines that extended beyond the edges of an artwork

Stonhenge c2500 BCE Wiltshire County, England

This is a good example of implied line: the horizontal stone on top of the vertical stones
appears to extend across the vertical stones on either side of it.
Geometric and Organic Lines
Geometric lines

Geometric lines are mathematically determined. They have regularity and hard or sharp
edges. True geometric lines are rarely found in nature, but often found in man-made
constructions. They convey a sense of order, conformity, and reliability.

Sol LeWitt

Bands of Lines in Four Directions in Black and White 1977


screenprint on paper 15 x 19 inches
Collection Walker Art Center; Gift of the artist, 1983

Organic lines

Organic lines are the types of lines found in nature. They are irregular, curved, and often fluid.
They convey a sense of gracefulness, dynamism, and spontaneity.

Hasegawa Tohaku Pine Trees (left hand screen) 16th century

Pair of six-folded screens; ink on paper. 156.8 356 cm (61.73 140.16 in) Tokyo National Museum

Horizontal, Vertical, and Diagonal Lines

Horizontal Line = Calm


Action

Vertical Line = Alert Attention

Diagonal Line =

Horizontal and Vertical = Strength and Permanence


Horizontal lines suggest landscape and the horizon.
They impart a sense of peacefulness, vastness, and constancy.

Caspar David Friedrich The wanderer above the sea of fog 1818
oil on canvas

98 74 cm (38.58 29.13 in) Hamburger Kunsthalle

Vertical lines suggest alert attention. They imply strength, power, and authority.

Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres (Cathdrale Notre-Dame de Chartres), Chartres, France 1193--1250

Diagonal lines suggest action and movement. They convey dynamism, vitality, and animation.

Laocon and his sons, also known as the Laocon Group


Marble, copy after an Hellenistic original from ca. 200 BC.
Found in the Baths of Trajan, 1506.Height 8' (2.4 m.) Current location Museo Pio-Clementino, Octagon, Laocon Hall

Horizontal and vertical lines used together suggest permanence.


They imply sturdiness, solidity, and immovability.

The Parthenon,a temple on the Athenian Acropolis, Greece, dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, 447-438 BCE

Descriptive Lines
Descriptive lines

cross-hatching

Descriptive lines give us information. Descriptive lines are used in such things as handwriting,
charts and diagrams. They can also be used as decorative elements. Descriptive lines are used
in two dimensional work to suggest three dimensionality (i.e. cross-hatching), and texture.

Calligraphy Illustrations bismi-llhi ar-ramni ar-rami

Source: made by a volunteer Author Facel Ben Yedder

Calligraphic variations that represent the phrase "name of God the Merciful", used in recitations
of the Qur'an, during daily prayers, and on dedication inscriptions on gravestones, buildings
and works of art.

Anglo-Saxon golden belt buckle from the Sutton Hoo ship-burial 1, Suffolk (England). 7th century AD.
With cast ornament and niello inlay British Museum Gift of Mrs E.M. Pretty

The linear decoration of this waist belt reflects the wealth and status of the owner.

Bones of the left hand. Volar surface, Henry Vandyke Carter

From the 20th U.S. edition of Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body, originally published in 1918

The lines used in anatomical illustration must accurately and effectively describe human anatomy.

Rembrandt Van Rijn The Three Crosses, 1653 etching, drypoint and burin 387 455 mm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam Bequeathed to the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam in 1962 Image Source www.rijksmuseum.nl

Rembrandt's many prints are excellent examples of cross-hatching, using line to create (or
describe) a sense of three dimensionality. Rembrandt also used cross-hatching to create a
dramatic contrast between light and dark.

32,000 year old Hyena painting found in Chauvet cave, France


Image Source Carla Hufstedler originally posted to Flickr as 20,000 Year Old Cave Paintings: Hyena

Although the lines in this cave painting appear very expressive, its intent is not to be an
expression of the artist. The purpose is is to describe the essence of the hyena, not just what it
looks like, but the fluidity of its motion. The artist understood the animal on a very intimate
level.

Expressive Qualities of Line


The expressive qualities of line are as variable as each artists work.
Lines can be short, long, thick, thin, thick and thin, smooth, textured, broken, flowing, erratic,
dark, light, dark and light, heavy, soft, hard, playful, ordered, even, variable, calligraphic,
authoritative, tentative, irregular, smudged, uneven, straight, crooked, choppy, ghostly,
graceful; the variety is endless.

Each type of line says something different; each evokes a different response. In some way, line
is an integral part of every artwork. Careful consideration of the quality of line used support s
and enhances the artists intent.

Expressive lines impart emotional qualities to lines. For example, lines with sharp peaks are
not easily read by our eyes and impart a feeling of uneasiness. In contrast, lines without sharp
edges, which allow our eyes to flow easily, make us feel calm and comfortable.
Sharply angled lines suggest excitement, anger, danger, chaos.

Mark Di Suvero Are Years What? (for Marianne Moore 1967 painted steel and cable
The Hirshhorn Sculpture Gardens, Washinton DC

Flat lines suggest calm.

Arkhip Ivanovich Kuindzhi Dnepr in the morning 1881

Oil on canvas 105 167 cm

Wide lines suggest bold strength.

Gently curving lines suggest unhurried pleasure.

Kate Harris, Presentation cup with lid 1901


William Hutton & Sons, Ltd.
Silver with semi-precious stones 14 1/2 x 12 x 6 1/4 in.
Creation Place:Europe, England, London Gift of funds from the Decorative Arts Council

Gestural Lines

Gestural lines reveal the touch of the artists hand, arm--and sometimes the entire bodyin
the artwork.

Piet Mondrian, Gray Tree 1911


Oil on canvas 78.5 x 107.5 cm (30 7/8 x 42 3/8 in)
Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague

Kthe Kollwitz Self-Portrait 1921 Etching on paper, 8 1/2 x 10 1/2 in.


Museum purchase: Members' Acquisition Fund 2002 Artists Rights Society (ARS)/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Untitled Jean-Michel Basquiat, 1984 acrylic and mixed media on canvas

Grace Hartigan Billboard 1957

Oil on canvas 78 1/2 x 87 in. (199.4 x 221.0 cm)


Collection Minneapolis Institute of Arts; The Julia B. Bigelow Fund

Pages 9-14

Name: ______________________________________________ Hour: _____ Date: ______________

What is a line?
Independently (by yourself)
Write a list of some examples of Line. ____________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________________________
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Draw a variety of different Lines

Define line. What is a Line? ____________________________________________________________


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Pair up with a student next to you
Take turns reading your definition of Line and recreate a new definition. Write your agreed
upon definition here, ______________________________________________________________________
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As a whole class we will share, discuss and create the definition of Line
Line = _____________________________________________________________________________
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Independently (by yourself) Read the Line packet and fill in the following
In your own words what are Actual Lines? _________________________________________________
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Your own Examples:

In your own words what are Contour Lines? _______________________________________________


___________________________________________________________________________________
Your own Examples:

In your own words what are Implied Lines? ________________________________________________


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Your own Examples:

In your own words what are Geometric Lines? _____________________________________________


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Your own Examples:

In your own words what are Organic Lines? _______________________________________________


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Your own Examples:

In your own words what are Calming Lines? _______________________________________________


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Your own Examples:

In your own words what are lines that alert attention?


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Your own Examples:

In your own words what are lines that communicate action?


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Your own Examples:

In your own words what are lines that communicate strength and permanence?
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Your own Examples:

In your own words what are lines that are Descriptive Lines?
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Your own Examples:

In your own words what are lines that are Expressive Lines?
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Your own Examples:

In your own words what are lines that are Gestural Lines?
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Your own Examples:

You will be required to draw a picture of your choice utilizing line of your choice. After you
are finished with your drawing you must than defend your choices in sentence form.
First state which type of line you utilized in your drawing.
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Second state what is the definition of the line you utilized in your drawing.
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Third state an exact area on your drawing where the utilization is
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Fourth state why did you choose this specific type of line for this specific drawing
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Rewrite your answers to form a fluid paragraph that defends your choices.
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