Elements of Art: Line

This video explains LINE, one of the Elements of Art and the infinite ways line can be manipulated in visual arts to create engaging images.

Examples from contemporary art and art history of illustrations, paintings, sculptures, and more are shown, where line plays an integral role. 

Discussion led by Art Prof Clara Lieu and Teaching Artist Alex Rowe.

Pen & Ink Drawing, Song Kang
Song Kang

Video Walkthrough

  • Line is often the everyone’s first experience with drawing.
  • You can create space and depth with line using various techniques.
  • Line has much more potential than you think!
  • Changing the line weight to get more variation in a drawing.
  • Clean lines vs. messy lines.
  • Line can be harsh and gritty, but it can also be elegant and slick.
  • Line can also function in a 3D installation.
  • The beauty of a lines created by a burin in a wood engraving
  • Considering the direction of the line in relation to the image.
  • Thinking about the tension in a line.
  • Lines can have a sense of gravity.
  • Using line to follow the form and create a volumetric illusion.
  • Changing the distance between lines.
  • Lines that are subtle and barely there.
  • Lines can have dramatic personalities and expression.
  • Balancing between bold graphic shapes with line to support the lines.
  • Using line in patterns.
  • Using a dip pen to create lines.
  • Lines that feel humorous and gritty.

Prof Lieu’s Tips

Clara cartoon

People have incredibly different ideas about what the “fundamentals” are for an artist. I’ve encountered a lot of people who were told they should learn human anatomy to be an artist.

In my opinion, if you don’t have any interest in making figurative artwork, it’s really not necessary to invest that kind of time to study anatomy.