Some qualities of a drawn line (in no particular order and not necessarily distinct):




Curvature – straight/simple/wavering

Speed of gesture


Regularity of tone/variation of tone

Scale of variation in curvature (see speed)





Possible combinations of qualities:


A straight fine, dark line

A simple smooth curve, varying from dark to light

A soft pale wavering line

A hard, dark, jagged, fast scribble

A complicated curve of varying intensity


Each combination suggests/implies a different bodily action or feeling: a tight or a loose grip of the drawing tool, a fine movement of the fingers or a large movement of the arm, a slow or a fast gesture, considered or unplanned mark-making, a gentle stroke or an angry scrawl …

It’s a good thing we aren’t consciously thinking about all these things when we draw. Here are some recent abstract-ish drawings, starting from fairly random lines and seeing what happens:

Ripples – lines generate surfaces – surfaces imply depth
Fissure – pencil and Chinese white on tinted paper
Unidentified fragmentary object

2 thoughts on “Lines

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