Anna Hergert, Art & Design

Decyphering Design: Part II – Line

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The basic elements of design are line, shape, form, texture and color. None of these building blocks can be applied successfully in isolation. It is the interaction between these elements that makes the process of designing so creative and individual. While we initially differentiate between five distinct elements of design it is by putting them all together, weighing their importance and considering them in our work that strong art pieces are created. These may be set in a realistic or abstract realm.

Let us begin with the element of line: Line has unlimited variations. It is important as it leads to describe shape, and it aids in recognizing objects. We use line in many different ways:

Implied line connects a series of dots …………. —————–
The suggestive line is not a real or tangible line. It could be the image of a hand pointing towards a specific point in the image, making our eye move across.

Line direction is an important tool to make the eye move and even set a specific mood: For example, horizontal lines imply rest or a lack of motion. When analyzing landscapes watch for these horizontal qualities. Diagonal and vertical lines suggest movement and action.

Line quality is described as thick, thin, rough or smooth and relates closely to line value. Using line in quilting is an important element: When outlining the contour of a shape, attention is drawn to this area.

Explicit line provides sharp contrasts, often very important in abstract works of art.

This concludes my short introduction to line. To find more information check out the web, browse through the art and design section of your local library, or visit your favorite second hand bookstore. Art and design books, no matter what the publication date, offer an array of information and examples in images. I have included photographs with a strong focus on line in today’s slide show. Enjoy! Check back Sunday when I touch on the design element of shape.


This entry was published on October 18, 2012 at 6:21 am. It’s filed under Art, Creativity Update, Design and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

17 thoughts on “Decyphering Design: Part II – Line

  1. Pingback: A Thought About Evergreen Content | Anna Hergert, Art & Design

  2. Anna: While working through your design posts I was thrilled to see the photos taken in Almonte – it was my home for many years. It’s amazing how travel photos can be such a teaching/learning tool.


    • Hi Diane,
      Yes, actually I was thinking about you when I walked around your old home towne… I was wondering where your travels were taking you at that exact moment!


      • Hi Anna,
        We’re situated in Calgary for the winter – my husband ran into medical issues when we got back last spring. Have had a very busy summer and fall. Hoping for a productive winter. Did you visit the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum? I was the first project manager/curator/coordinator for the museum and was involved in the set up of the corporation, BOD and the purchase of the facilities. I’m still proud of the three years that I ‘lived’ the project.


      • Hi again, Diane. Sorry to read about medical problems. And YES, we went to the Mississippi Textile Museum – wouldn’t miss it! My husband is a weaver (and I have a spinning background) and I had told him about my first visit there in 2009. We spent a good part of a hot day in late August exploring the mill and the town (I blogged about it in late August). Thanks for sharing the little bit of background info. I can’t say enough wonderful things about the museum and gallery space. I heard from the Lanark County Quilters’ Guild last week – they are entertaining the thought of bringing me in just prior to Quilt Canada 2014. With being in the area I wouldn’t miss the Textile Museum. You should be very proud of your involvement and vision in the early days of the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum!


  3. Hi Anna,
    Thank you for these postings on the elements of design and the reminder that they work together like a family . My camera is an important tool and I take it for a walk often especially during the summer at the lake . Reading this post this a.m. has given me a new thought . Although I take many photos and often use them in my quilts , I have not thought to see them as design and question just how the elements work and what exactly drew me to take the photo to begin with other than the awesome beauty of God’s creation.

    Thanks for sharing your images .In particular I love the two detail shots with the stone walls in the background and the marvelous curves……….and the stairway one !


    • Joyce, so good to read that this series of blog posts even offers a few pointers for the highly accomplished textile artists, like you! The images you point out were captured at the Watson Mill in Manotick, ON during a lovely afternoon between lectures and teaching workshops in the Ottawa region.


  4. Grasshopper Girl on said:

    Hi Anna,
    Love your blog. Just want you to know that since this summer I have been known to take my camera when on walks in the wild. The last time, I ran to catch the sunrise, and yes, I did hear your voice urging me to find diagonal line and radiating line and horizontal line. I long for your wonderful “eye”. Thanks for all your inspiration.


    • Keep using the camera – it is a wonderful tool to help us see. We remove our subjectivity somewhat by looking through that lens and what we capture is often much better than what is presenting in front of us!


  5. Anna, this series of posts has arrived as I am preparing the Project Brief for my final assessment piece in my City & Guilds Level 2 Certificate in Creative Techniques: Quilting. The series is a helpful addition to the course materials. Thank you!


    • You are welcome! I am not the only person who has something the share on the subject, though! Make sure to check out art and design books from your local library. Inter library loan is ideal for this!


      • marginmirror on said:

        I have several Beaney and Littlejohn books in my own library and some other authors besides. However, the Parkland Regional Library has mainly pattern books (traditional) and little on design with textiles — or even with paint and paper…but I keep looking.


      • Marg, try the inter-library loan system and check out art theory books in second hand book stores. These books are often sold at much below their original retail price. With your enrollment in the City and Guilds Program on-line I am sure you have many more excellent books on your reading list.


  6. Anna, who knew that there could be that many “lines”. A very concise description of this particular element of design. This is becoming much clearer. Oh yes and good suggestion about carrying a camera with you all the time. My trouble is, I often forget to use it because I’m so busy taking in the vista.

    Question, where does “repetition” fit in? Could that be considered “implied line” or would that fit better with “form”?


    • Renate, do continue to carry your camera – It will take no time to remind yourself that you can take in the vistas and capture them for future reference at the same time! Here is a hint: As soon as you stop the car or arrive at your destination place that camera in your hand.
      Your question about “repetition” will be answered as the topic of elements and principles of design continues. Repetition factors in with shape and ultimately rhythm, movement and proportion – to be covered in the near future. Check back regularly!


  7. Anna: Your pictures are spectacular for color and subject. I am always so pleased to see and read your blog. When do you find time for all of this.? I thought I was productive but am sure that you ‘take the cake’ for that. (hopefully a torte). Smile I am watching you. Your friend and admirer or all your inspiring work. Leona


    • Thanks, Leona!
      Truth be told – I find that carrying my camera and taking pictures continues to hone my observation skills. Analyzing the images I capture reinforces the principles and elements of design, therefore I internalize them and they become second nature.


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