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The Mastery of Line Art

Throughout art history, artists have created influential art using the line as a principle means of visual expression.



It's often thought that an artist's stroke is the purest way to perceive their abilities. As a line winds across a paper or canvas, this continuous band can emit powerful emotions. Thus, it's no surprise that line art, or line drawing, is one of the most basic elements of visual art.

In fact, as one of the seven visual elements of art—along with form, shape, color, value, texture, and space—the line is a hallmark of the arts. But what is line art? First, it's important to note that a line doesn't simply move from point A to point B. At its core, line drawing consists of distinct lines against a primarily solid background. In art, a line can be two-dimensional or three-dimensional, abstract, descriptive, or implied.

Line art is often black and white, but not always. Elements like shading and color gradients are absent, allowing the focus to rest firmly on the lines themselves. Line drawings can be sketches, but they can also be finished artworks unto themselves. The line is so fundamental to the arts, that a common exercise for art students is to draw a form using one single line, never letting the drawing utensil leave the page.

It's important to remember that line art isn't only about painting and drawing. Lines can be visually formed in many ways. For instance, sculptors bending materials into different shapes or photographers creating implied lines via the angle of their camera.

Now that we know a bit about the theory, let's dive into line art through history, beginning with famous line drawings in art history.


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