line is a path that can offer an interesting and varied journey, rhythmic and
with occasional, pleasurable surprises. Thus is one tempted to take the journey
-Krome Barratt, Logic and Design: In Art, Science, and
Creating representational art is challenging; a satisfying
visual event requires more from the artist than simply transcribing nature
directly. With the many technical hurdles to be
surmounted in order to get an image to look "right," artists often tend to
focus keenly on accuracy alone. However, our job is not simply to copy what we
see but to form an emotional bridge from the work to the viewer. An effective work of art is
dependent upon many elements working together to create harmony between the
content, mood, and composition.
It is important that we artists use the vocabulary of our
craft in order to distill our message and communicate with the viewer on an
emotional level. By utilizing one of the most fundamental elements, line, we
are able to construct pictorial scaffolding on which to support mood and
feeling. The vocabulary of horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines is so
stable and ubiquitous that it is linked to sight itself; and by utilizing these
few simple line directions, we can create a design that heightens the emotion
in a work of art.
|Long's Peak, Colorado by Sanford Gifford, oil on canvas with pencil, 1870.
The horizontal line is a bedrock element in both life and
art. We are deeply dependent upon this steady foundation in order to walk
without falling or to build structures upward. Our eyes sit horizontally across
our face; we more easily see side to side than up and down; the solidity of the
floor beneath our feet balances us when we stand.
|The Road by the
Sea - Palermo, Italy by Sanford Gifford.
This line is the least
moveable and most stable part of a composition, be it in the form of a horizon
line or the top of a table: it is calm and secure, passive and foundational,
peaceful and predictable. Creating a counterpoint to excessive movement, the
horizontal affords us a base note of
security from which we may venture forth.
A long, uninterrupted horizontal can fall
prey to banality. In Sanford Gifford's oil painting, Long's Peak,
Colorado, we have so
much predictable regularity that the image becomes strangely blank and
In The Road by the
Sea - Palermo, Italy, Gifford added the
verticals of a house, small figures, a curving pathway, and the diagonal line of
the water. The horizon line is omnipresent and provides rest to the eye, yet
there is enough dynamism to add interest and tension to the overall composition.
||Bacchus and Ariadne by Titian, 1520, oil on canvas.
Titian's Bacchus and
Ariadne depicts a frenzy of activity, but this motion rests upon the stable,
strong ground of the horizon line; and without the few ticks of horizontal
line, the work's sense of depth would be lost.
By using the simple horizontal, we can add solidity and a
sense of peace to an otherwise unstable or agitated composition. In appealing
to our physical environment and psychological understanding of the world around
us, line-oriented design elements allow us to build a bridge between our own
world and that of the viewer. One is
able to impart mood to a work of art without relying on accuracy alone.
In my next installation, we will explore
the confidence and strength found in the vertical line and the oft-tumultuous
energy of the diagonal line.