“Line”     November 4th 2010          Artlark   Penny Bearman

Before we can move on from planning the texture of a painting and apply our knowledge of drawing and our understanding of tone; we need to structure the picture plane, in preparation for the “real” work of painting: the application of colour.

Colour can be applied as a “colour field” that is, overall coats of layers of paint, basically making all areas of the picture a similar colour. Mostly though, several colours will be seen, side by side, in groups or evenly distributed along the picture plane.
As soon as you begin to think out the position for different areas of colour you realise that you need an initial line drawing to help place the colours effectively. The problem is that mostly we do not relish the process of “painting by numbers” or even “colouring-in”. A great deal of the pleasure in painting is painting in a free style, without pre-decided edges.
One way to solve this contradiction is to use one of the proposed textures or colours to draw with, before applying the colours. Another idea is to break away from the preconception that lines have to be sharp or of a single width. If the paintings you like have colour planes with jagged edges, then the line you use to plan the composition of the painting should similarly be jagged.
To make lines you could use an oil bar. You could use acrylic paint. You could use plaster or glue, then paint primer over the top, so that the drawing remains evident underneath the colours.
In this way, drawing will become an integral part of the painting, and remain a joy, rather than a chore!

It is worth noting that artists such as Picasso discovered that the impact of the line is so authoritive that colours don’t have to register or connect precisely with them to have the same effect.

It may be that, as in all the separate skills that make an effective painting style, line and composition can be ignored until the later stages of painting. Sometimes it takes a time to become acquainted with the message within your painting, so the best composition for it may not come until the latter stages.
Personally I feel that part of the appeal of painting is to arrive at the answer at the end, not have a preconceived notion at the beginning…