Horizontal and Vertical Lines

"With your unaided eyes you can look into a pond and see clear water.  With a magnifying glass you look into the same water and see thousands of small organisms.  With a microscope you see bacteria and detect viruses, and with the most sophisticated tunneling electron microscope you can see the atoms that make up the water and the creatures in it." Edwin Schlossberg, Interactive Excellence

Please note: The artwork in this posting was produced by my students this semester.  Please contact me should you wish to use it so that I can get permission.

I am teaching two sections of two-dimensional design this semester at the community college.  Students from all of the various programs must take at least one art course in order to fulfill their curriculum requirements.  Therefore, I teach students from every discipline, and since our population is so diverse, from many parts of the world as well as different ages, cultures and backgrounds.

Design is the grammar and the beginning of the spiral is a point.  A line is made up of points.  Our brain can register an implied line by viewing a series of dots lined up in a row.  The points in the illustration above show distribution, variety, and dominance.  

We start with the line combination problem of horizontals and verticals.  This is a natural set of groupings because much of art is made up of horizontal and vertical relationships.  Students put together designs using this combination which is the most common sort of directional relationships in art.  Of course, they first have to learn how to create thumbnail sketches and test out their ideas in order to generate ideas.

The illustration above shows a design that mirrors itself but with different weights of line and even an implied set of graduated lines on the top left.

So when does a line become a shape?  Is it merely a question of proportion?  We have a lot of arguments
about what constitutes a shape.

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  1. when does a line become a shape... hmm, I could meditate a long time over this. For me it IS a shape... but I guess you can see that from another perspective. Thanks so much for sharing this with us,

  2. Andrea,
    It was good of you to come by for a visit, for reading these two posts, and for also becoming a follower of this blog! Thank you so much.

    When I teach it is not so boring because I provide PowerPoints with lots of images and their are small exercises to do as well. I will have to find to make these postings more interesting to the visitors to this site.


  3. This is especially interesting because I am working on a post about the mobius strip. :)

  4. Ruth,
    The things that we can do when we add another dimension!

  5. Hey Patricia,
    We also start with a line unit in middle school. We came to the conclusion that lines can "imply" shape if they do not connect. But once lines connect or overlap they create shapes. However lines can contain shapes...loopy lines for instance contain. We do a line brainstorm and have over 80 different "named" line types to refer to. Great stuff. Will send you a copy!

  6. Hey Anonymous,

    I can't wait to see what you are up to! You are so right about how shapes are formed.


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