A line as a contour
A line whose only destination is to mark a studied shape on a surface we call a contour line or simply a CONTOUR.
What do you think drawing number 1 shows? We are sure everyone will say that it is a circle and not a line moving in a round track. If you place your hand on a piece of paper, draw contours around it and next show it to your friend he will no doubt say that you have drawn a hand and not a line bent in the shape of a hand.
When you wish to draw a tree, flower, chair or self-portrait you do it with the use of a line. A line, that in reality doesn`t exist. It is only your eyes that notice this line to seperate what you see from the background.
A line defining space
Illustration 2 3. PIETER BRUEGEL THE YOUNGER
Marking a shape of an object on a surface doesn't use up all the possibilities of a line. It is obvious that the world we live in is three-dimensional. Well, it appears that a line can perfectly give the impression of space. On the drawing above (illustration 2) - although it doesn`t remind us of any familiar fragment of nature - the impression of depth is very clear. The foreground (what is closest to us) is defined with a thick, distinct line, while in the middle distances the line gradually becomes thinner, weaker, less distinct. We could name this drawing "Space". And here is a drawing of a splendid artist showing a fragment of reality (illustration 3). When looking at it we have no doubts which fragments of the landscape are further and which are nearer to us.
Lines and texture
4. ALBRECHT DÜRER
Adam and Eve (fragment)
Is there anything more we need to know about lines? Well, we know that all the things nature consists of, except for forms and colours, have their own surface quality, their own texture. Lines are able to solve this problem too. They show the texcture of objects in nature in a way that allows us to find out what the texture is actually like. Here are some examples of lines imitating textures of the bark of a tree and the fur of an animal (illustration 4). An experienced artist can imitate using lines the surface of many things that surround us. What he needs though is a great deal of patience and persistence in experimenting with lines and careful observations.
Lines and nature
A line which is simply the trace of a pencil, pen, marker or coloured pencil can form magnificent masterpieces when drawn by some artists. In nature it simply doesn`t exist. There are of course things similar to a line like for example a supple twig of a shrub, a hair, an electric cable or even a path of smoke high in the sky made by a jet. But these are material occurrences which take up some place in space. A line on the other hand is only a sign which help us, humans, to transmit information to each other as we have agreed to do so. It transmits information, but it itselfs somehow remains unnoticed.
Lines as a mean of artistic expression
It appears that the line, which used as a contour in order to shape a form on a surface and which is capable of giving the impression of depth and imitate various textures of things, in nature when drawn by a fabulous creator can also be a fine mean of artistic expression. Every artist draws differently, according to his own sensitiveness, his own temper and intended method of expressing his feelings towards nature.