Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Elements of Design - Line

The last week, as part of my course work with Lisa Call, I have been looking at the use of line in design a little more closely and a little more deeply. As part of this exercise, I took a short walk this afternoon  around the neighborhood of Kilburnie in Wellington, New Zealand. I arrived here to visit my daughter and her husband, and my 22 month old grandson yesterday, and as often seems to happen when you visit unfamiliar places, I had new eyes for seeing here and soon found numerous examples of line. First there were the yellow broken lines running down the middle of the road,
and letters painted on a fence, each one made of other broken lines, and of complementary colours in order that stand out unmistakably to passersby.
Fences are everywhere, each composed of lines formatted in hundreds of ways. Here a wide line is followed by two thinner lines, all the lines being cut to the same length, and attached top and bottom to two (almost) horizontal lines.
As I'm writing this, I'm realizing that the three examples above are all lines in things that are man-made, and contrast hugely with the organic trunk lines of pohutakawa trees planted outside a nearby school. Maybe the trunks are even more dramatic because they're juxtaposed with the lines of the street and the school.
The pleasing lines of these windows are more complex. Straight lines and curved lines. Lines that enclose rectangles and lines that enclose diamonds. Beautiful.
But straight lines can be found in nature, as well as in windows and fences and as street markings. Parts of this palm tree look like spiked lines radiating out from a centre, perhaps from a branch. Each one widest at the base and thinning until it ends with a point.
For some reason I find this sign particularly pleasing, warning drivers that they are approaching a pedestian crossing. Something about the perspective, I think.
This photo of the side of nearby house was the most complex of all, with horizontal lines formed by the wooden siding, cross-hatching on the climbing frame, simple straight lines and one single diamond in the stained glass windows, diagonal roof lines and vertical fence lines. Together they are in perfect balance.
And of course written letters and numbers are all made up of lines too. With hundreds of varieties of fonts available for use, or our own unique hand gestures forming them.
Griffin is showing me where I can find a lemon, just beside his home. It wasn't until I was choosing which photo I'd load onto this blogpost that I noticed the lovely contrast between the outside almost-but-not-quite round of the lemon and the check of his jacket. And then there are the horizontal stripes of his shoes and the vertical lines of the fence. Even the diagonal line of the sidewalk plays an important role in this shot. This was a most interesting exercise, and I will be following it up by looking at which lines I most like to use in my own work, among other things. I have a feeling I might be dreaming about lines tonight.


  1. Hi Pippa, from the other side of the world. I liked your line studies posted yesterday. But I also wanted to congratulate you on having sold the three pieces you showed in your last post. Wonderful! It seems to me that a few others in FAN are also working with Lisa Call, and I was wondering whether any or all of you (together or separately) might be interested in writing about the experience for the newsletter. Just a thought. And no rush. Enjoy your grandson and all that New Zealand has to offer.

    1. Hi Anne, I've sent you a reply by email. Thanks for reading my blog and for the suggestion. Pippa