This week we continue our exploration of line as it relates to design. When creating a composition, lines can capture the viewers attention by being expressive, creating a mood or a feeling. Understanding the way different types of lines give visual cues can help you as the artist communicate a message that can impact the viewer in a subtle, or not so subtle manner without a great deal of dialogue.

Below are words that we can associate with different types of lines and quilts that illustrate these meanings.

Canopy Quilt by Barbara Confer  1880 Blue/White Bar Quilt  NYSE by Katharina Lichtman - a City Skyline

Vertical - Strength power, dignity, grandeur, authority.    


Bug: Trixilated Transportation - a VW Bug Quilt     A quilt demonstrating line in design

Horizontal - calm, relaxed, balanced, stability, constancy


Quilt - Elements #35 by Robin Ferrier   1870 Quaker Silk Herringbone Doll quilt (image Stella Rubin Antiques)

Diagonal - excitement, movement, power, action, vitality


 Quilt - Life by Yoshiko Katagiri    Quilt - Pinwheel Galaxy by MaxieMakes                    

Open curve - organic, comforting, calm, relaxation


Quilt - Crop Circles by Colleen Granger     Quilt - 20th cent. African American Multiiple Targets

Closed curve - completness, the eternal whole, continual movement


Along with meaning, lines can also be expressive. Some examples of words associated with different lines we found at Sophia include:

Flat - Calm

Quilt - Daybreak by Lubbesmeyer


Wide - bold strength

Quilt - Broken Plaid by Alissa Haight Carlton

Gentle curve - unhurried pleasure

Qullt by Keiko Kimura

Sharply angled- Excitement, anger, danger, chaos

Quilt - Shattered by Jacquie Gering




Image from Rebloggy
Image from Rebloggy

Practice Exercise: Using Line to Create a mood or feeling

In this exercise you will be making (5) framed line drawings using white sheets of paper.

Step 1. Making the frames         

Cut your paper to 8 1/2" x 8 1/2".
Using a pencil, draw a line 2" from one side of the paper. Repeat for all four sides of the paper.
You should now have a 'frame' drawn in the center of your paper that measures 4 1/2" square.
Carefully cut out the center square, leaving the opening 'frame' in your piece of paper.
Repeat with the remaining (4) sheets of paper.

Step 2. Preparing your line drawing foundations      

Cut your paper to  8 1/2" x 8 1/2".
Using a pencil, very lightly draw a line 1 3/4" from one side of the paper. Repeat for all four sides of the paper.
You should now have a 'frame' drawn in the center of your paper that measures 5" square. This center square will be your design area.
Repeat with the remaining (4) sheets of paper.

Step 3. Drawing your designs

Using only a black colored pencil, marker, torn or cut paper, create (1) line design (using lthe principles from the lesson) while staying within your lightly drawn square. Repeat with a different line design on each of the remaining (4) foundation pages.

Step 4. Evaluating your designs
Once you have completed your designs, cover each drawing with a frame. Compare how each drawing suggests a different feeling or mood.

Optional Exercise
Create frames using black construction paper.  Compare how a design changes when the overlaying frame is black vs. white.


Click here for more topics related to the Design to Quilt program.

#3 Candyce 2017-02-20 07:03
The PDF seems incomplete??? Will try again
#2 Jean Pittman 2017-02-13 11:03
I am really enjoying the Design To Quilt lessons. I am printing them off in color and putting them in a notebook to study and refer to in the future. In fact, I am making a big notebook of ALL the wonderful articles and info on The Quilt Show that I want to keep. The book may get really big. The Quilt Show yearly price of $42.95 is a steel for all the info one gets from the emails.
#1 Tenneh 2017-02-08 02:06
Thanks! I expanded my awareness of using lines. I find sharp angular lines make me edgy ! I like smooth, flowing, calming or dynamic waves horizontially or fountain like vertical designs or waterfall downward lines. Soothing lines LOL.
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