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In this lesson, we continue our exploration of line as it relates to design. When creating a composition, lines can capture the viewer's 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  New York Stock Exchange by Katharina Lichtman
Canopy by Barbara Confer.  1880 Blue/White Bar Quilt from Rocky Mountain Quilts.  NYSE by Katharina Lichtman.

Vertical - Strength power, dignity, grandeur, authority.    
             

 

Bug: Trixilated Transportation by Martha Peterson & Dionne Matthies-Buban     A quilt demonstrating line in design
Bug: Trixilated Transportation by Martha Peterson & Dionne Matthies-Buban. Secrets by Marti Plage.

Horizontal - calm, relaxed, balanced, stability, constancy

 

Quilt - Elements #35 by Robin Ferrier   1870 Quaker Silk Herringbone Doll quilt. Photo from Stella Rubin Antiques.
Elements #35 by Robin Ferrier.1870 Quaker Silk Herringbone Doll quilt. Photo from Stella Rubin Antiques.

Diagonal - excitement, movement, power, action, vitality

 

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

Open curve - organic, comforting, calm, relaxation

 

Quilt - Crop Circles by Colleen Granger     Quilt - 20th cent. African American Multiple Targets
Crop Circles by Colleen Granger. 20th cent. African American Multiple Targets Quilt. Photo from ARTFIXdaily.

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
Daybreak by Lubbesmeyer Art Studio.

 

Wide - bold strength

Quilt - Broken Plaid by Alissa Haight Carlton
Broken Plaid by Alissa Haight Carlton.
 

Gentle curve - unhurried pleasure

Qullt by Keiko Kimura
 Shiraki Forest by Keiko Kimura. Photo from Queenie's Needlework Blog.
 

Sharply angled - Excitement, anger, danger, chaos

Quilt - Shattered by Jacquie Gering
Shattered by Jacquie Gering.

 


Deportation by Jackie Benedetti. Quilted by Rachael Dorr. Photo by Mary Kay Davis for TheQuiltShow.
 

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 colored 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 (fig. 2) that measures 4 1/2" square.
Carefully cut out the center square, leaving the opening 'frame' in your piece of paper (fig. 3).
Repeat with the remaining (4) sheets of colored 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 (fig. 1). 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 (fig. 2). 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 Art of Quilt Design program.