elephants in line

I like lines.  I think in lines.  If I had my way the whole world would be outlined.  Okay, maybe I wouldn’t go quite that far.  But when I look at the whole world, I often think about it in lines — lines that run round the contours of surfaces with a few lines tossed in willy-nilly just because.

Expressing this opinion got me into a bit of a kerfuffle recently at an artist’s post on social media.  Unbeknownst to me the author of the site where I commented offers drawing instruction and has very particular ideas about how to draw, believing that things should be constructed geometrically.  While I have nothing against geometry, I offered an opinion that geometrical approaches only capture certain features and omit others.  The same is true about contour line of course. (She acknowledges reluctantly.)  Nothing wrong with the information that a geometrical approach emphasizes.  It’s just that the vast everything else that geometry misses deserves a shout out as well.

I guess I notice the sieve aspect of a pedagogical approach most when it goes contrary to some manner that’s habitual with me since we all tend to use ourselves and our familiar routines as templates for understanding the world.  (Didn’t Leonardo da Vinci do a blog post about that …?)


Anyway, I got into trouble.  It happens sometimes.  My host and sympathetic guests appeared to assert that there really was no other way, that all things are at long last reducible to geometry.  If you’re a mathematician of a certain stripe that idea might ring true, but it’s not true of art.  If I had offered my drawing below, sketches of a dog (which wisely I didn’t) I believe I would have been informed that I drew the dog’s head in a geometrical way because it seems to have form.

page of dog drawings

But actually I just drew contour lines around stuff (and shaded in parts).  That dog paw in the center of the page, for instance, is all line.  The dog’s paw itself — the actual paw on the actual dog — has form — even geometrical form (if you incline to think that God (hearts) math).  But my drawing of the paw is just line.  It’s so just line that I’m pretty sure the dog would not comprehend it as a dog paw.  (Though dogs do recognize pictures of dogs in certain contexts! Or so I heard via the internet so it must be true.)

Anyway, I think there are many ways to think visually and sometimes one way has nothing much in common with the other ways though any of the ways might have a lot in common with features of the visual world that the techniques are meant to imitate.

Or not.

At least we weren’t fussin’ about the things that people usually fuss about.  Give me a good knock-down, drag-out fight about ART any day.  I fought a battalion of geometricians all by myself! Anything that gets people feeling passionate about art!

If I had my way the whole world would be outlined.

2 thoughts on “the partisan of line

  1. Bravo! There is no right way, only the way that seems right to you. Isn’t that the point of art? Each of us has a different perspective to offer.

  2. Thank you, Janice — I couldn’t agree more. Lots of ways of doing things and it’s very important to find the means of expression that suits your nature.

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