Written by José Gregorio Noroño.
What is the next smallest unit from a point? Yes, a line. These lines are not only in artwork but all around us - in nature, texts, paintings. Through this deep dive, it makes us think about how to understand the decompose a whole into pieces - giving us a basis to recognizes the elements that as a whole becomes an artwork.
What is a line?
The line is an element that is present throughout the universe. We can observe various types of lines in the internal and external structures of all natural and artificial entities. The horizon, for example, is configured by that apparent line where the earth and the sky converge metaphorically. Every being, object or thing, when moving, draws a line. Graphically, the origin of the line is found in the slip of a point. According to Kandinsky, a line is the trace left by a point when moving, therefore, its existence will always be linked to the point. In short, the line is a moving point on a plane.
Types of lines
There are different types of lines: straight, curved and mixed. The horizontal is the one that moves from right to left or vice versa; the vertical is the one whose trajectory goes from bottom to top, or vice versa; the oblique is the one who leans slightly to the left or to the right; the curve is one that has a rounded shape and can be open or closed; mixed, is the one that is formed by straight lines and curves with different directions.
Horizontal lines express calm, weight, stability; verticals communicate strength, balance, upward and downward movement; the oblique ones give the sensation of instability, of distance or approach; curves suggest dynamism and vitality.
The function of the line
The line makes our perception of the world visible through writing and drawing. The most important function of the line is to represent and configure shapes; draw and make visible the things that surround us. Shapes can be graphically suggested by letters, words and texts (writing); or drawn, if they represent figures, people or things. The line acts as a structural element and as an expressive body. A line is used to set a certain shape; with it you can define a space, create a contour, figure movement, texture; suggest mass or volume; and also express ideas, feelings and emotions.
The line in the compositional plane
With a horizontal line you can represent the horizon, the distance. Through parallel straight lines you can suggest the sensation of depth, of the third dimension, which is known as linear perspective. With the line in an oblique or diagonal position, the sensation of movement and depth can also be achieved, in this case the represented figure is projected towards the viewer, it approaches, which is known as foreshortened perspective. The shading line, through the framework, creates volume and also provides depth. The closed or drawing line is a continuous line that determines finished, delimited and clear forms. The open or pictorial line is a discontinuous brushstroke and the shapes appear indeterminate, imprecise, sketchy.