Walking around Cheesman Park today I was thinking about what line is. I was thinking how immediate it is. How it makes a statement, usually without much ambiguity. I thought back to a time about twenty years ago when I was in Laguna Beach, CA to see the opening of a show featuring some John Lennon line drawings. He was good at using the sparseness of line to communicate all sorts of observations he had about life. In the way that he communicated through line he did introduce ambiguity, but nothing of the sort that would be associated with color or form. He allowed his viewers to deduce what they saw fit about the Beatles, his early days in music, the music business and Yoko all using line. Because of the way he chose to express himself I felt as if I could see some of what that was like for him, good and bad. If he had chosen a method that was more complicated than line what he wanted to say may have become lost, might have not been something so easily communicated across time.

Oddly, this experience with Lennon’s use of line came for me at a time when I was experimenting with form. About that time I was going down to the harbor area at Newport Beach with my sketchpad and a set of pencils and laying down renderings of boats on the water and piers stretching out into the ocean. What I captured then was all about how much pressure I felt was needed to produce a certain level of shadow. I could not then, and still can’t, bring myself to do art with the tip of my pencil.

So, do I think that there is no place for line simply because I can’t bring myself to use the pencil tip? No, is the short answer. Line shows up in the funniest places, along membranes and certainly at the edges of shadow. It tells us just where a wave has gone and not gone at a glance. It has a lot to say about power, particularly at the edges.

One Response to “Line”
  1. nahulu says:

    A line is a series of points; wherein the space between is just as valuable as the points themselves and there is more energy in the ’empty space.’ It is music and we can’t hear rhythm without also hearing the silence between the notes. So subtle. The lines are not even there at all. There is no point.

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