On line…

spring-art-055I’ve been re-reading some terrific articles on drawing with lines in the Spring 2006 issue of Drawing magazine, published by American Artist Magazine.  I love how they recognize that employing line is a powerful tool in an artist’s hands even though line is a fairly arbitrary way of rendering things…there are actually no real lines in nature, only places where masses are next to each other and therefore create an “edge” that we often render on paper as a line.  Two of the articles speak of combining line work with the traditional mass approach, or using line to indicate light and shadow.  I enjoy seeing what I can make of this when I draw, especially nature as it allows for lovely squiggly lines to be built up for the darker masses and fewer of them for the light areas.  I’ve tried it to render faces as well, with some success, but sometimes end up with lines on the face that are not terribly attractive.  Old Man Beeson was perfect for this however, with his burly beard, mustache, and eyebrows.  Here’s a quote from one article for you to think on–

” ‘There are no lines in nature!’ This variously attributed aphorism, echoing down the corridors of art academies, ironically spells out why line remains at the core of drawing:  Lines are contrived.  All the other elements of art–color, texture, value, form–exist independently in the world; only line is a construct.  Observation must undergo a radical and active translation to be rendered into line.  To draw in line is not to report what we see but to comment upon what we see, to respond to rather than replicate.  The artist winnows away superfluous information, simplifying, emphasizing, extracting essences from the everyday clutter of our visual field.  This and similar exercises of the intellect are what separate art from mere imitation and help set line at the very heart of artistic drawing.” pg. 78

Love that.

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