in all fairness, no two lines are exactly the same

“Life can’t be fair. If it were, then everybody would have the same clothes, the same furniture, the same houses, same color eyes and hair. Some people would like it, some people wouldn’t. I prefer life NOT be fair. I don’t want everybody to be the same. Because then if somebody is famous, everybody would be famous. So Bob Dylan would be like ‘hey, I’m Bob Dylan… ‘ and the other people would be like ‘hey, we’re Bob Dylan, too!'”  Sam Hart – 6 years old

This quote by Sam (my friend Evon’s son) makes me laugh. There is something he’s picking up in his young thinking process. Maybe it has nothing to do with fairness and everything to do with recognizing the extraordinary. If one could dance gracefully across a canvas and drip paint in fluid, rhythmic line, in all that is fair and true, there would still only be one Jackson Pollock.

Fall 2011.  New Drawing classes, new students.  We’re looking at line. A line is an element of art which refers to the continuous mark made on some surface by a moving point. There are at least 8 types of lines.  The focus in this assignment is the contour line, both inner and outer contour. Contour means outline, and presents exterior edges of objects. A plain contour has a clean, connected line, no shading and emphasizes an open shell of the subject. More complex contours can imply shading values through interior outlines, may have line textures or be contrasted with mixed media. We use black marker, one student uses Conté and Charcoal.

The subject matter varies for a few of the advanced students but most of the class draws a pine-cone.  No two pine-cones are exactly the same despite their seeming to be. Each is a one-of-a-kind natural object. That’s what looking closely and drawing carefully teaches the beginning drawing student. Every object in nature is unique. Drawing students learn to look closely at what they perceive as something ordinary, and slowly they learn it’s in fact quite extraordinary….like 6-year-old Sam already seems to understands about Bob Dylan (wow).

Here are the first completed drawings of this semester.  I’ll show you drawings with the cleanest, smoothest contour lines, that vary in thickness.

Kim in progress.

Kim's Pinecone

Ivon has sets up rhythm in her composition.

Yera in progress.

Yera's complete pine-cone includes some texture.

Art in progress.

Erica in progress.

Erica's completed dry flower.

Julieta in progress.

Julieta's Artichoke Flower

Excellent start!  On with the show…and discovering the extraordinary.

7 thoughts on “in all fairness, no two lines are exactly the same

  1. Keep the images in your article. I’m glad you liked them.
    I’ll share the link with my college students.
    Thank you!
    ps and thanks for letting me know, I appreciate it. Best Monica


  2. Hi,

    I teach high school art and am wondering how you got your students to enlarge the pine cones in their drawings. I love this lesson!



  3. Thanks for the question It is a challenging lesson, I love it. Mmmmm…and students … they take to it eventually, if not this assignment then the ones that follow.

    We have an introduction assignment – a still-life, where I talk about working life-size and working larger than life-size, and I also discuss working organically.
    It’s the first complete drawing in the semester and it’s very difficult for students so I try to keep it simple and light. Their first instruction is that they must touch at least 3 edges of the picture plane – 4 edges is good too, so the small pinecone will have to be drawn much larger than life.

    I basically break down the cone into parts, I explain the first scale / petal / shape – that gets put down will determine how big their pinecone will be, so I say something like … you need to magnify this small form, pointing to one of the scales of the cone, and then gesturing how big … about 8 times or more. Then move on to the next one, and then the next. I remind them to keep looking and making sure they are working large and being accurate.
    I do the same with the whole pinecone, and have them understand they are going to need to work large and explain the parts make up the whole.

    They work in their drawing notebook to scale (in other words – large), a little bit before they get to the actual drawing. I move around the room and tell them to go bigger, or that it looks about right. I say this out loud so everyone can hear.
    Once they begin on their drawing paper, they can’t restart without my okay – they need to continue. If it’s too small, I have them go over the shape and correct it. They work slow. Usually if they work fast, they go to their comfort zone.

    I share the stronger examples as we move through the process.

    If they work too small to fill up the picture plane, and are struggling I will let them start over once. But I don’t like to do this. They can get close to the edges of the picture plane, that’s fine, because that’s large. Or they can fall off the picture plane. I never discuss any kind of formula.

    I hope this helps. Thanks for asking.


  4. Pingback: no woman is an island….continues | Monica Aissa Martinez

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