Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Zen of Line


THE WAY, acrylic and collage, 2009
Everyone knows that even a single line can convey an emotion. ---Piet Mondrian

Zen is a school of behavior and thought based on austerity and an appreciation of the simplest acts in life.
Line: Of all the design elements, I think line is the most expressive and the most versatile. With just a few strokes one can convey a variety and range of emotions. Line can be: thin, light, airy, playful, happy, dancing, lyrical, rhythmic, static, musical, repetitive, staccato, dark, thick, heavy, moody, angry, dramatic, boring, exciting, and on and on.....

"Lines on a map, words on a page, tracks in the snow, carvings on rocks, drawings on cave walls, or recipes in a book; marks record our thoughts, our passages, and our existence. I am drawn to records mark makers have left us from their time in the past. And I make my marks now, constantly saying I am grateful to be here, on this planet and in this time." Leslie Avon Miller. Leslie incorporates dancing lines and lyrical mark marking into her works. You can find her blog Textures Shapes Color here.


This wonderful line work is by Imbi Star from Darwin, Australia. "(She) scratches, makes marks, collects stuff, paints, and thinks a bit". You can find her blog Two Worlds here.


Calligraphy signed by the monk, Nichiren (1222-82)
Antoni Tapies, from the cover of the 1987 Chicago International Art Exposition catalog
The large bonsai-pruned trees in the temple grounds and parks often needed large bamboo stakes to hold up their long, heavy limbs and branches. Their roots also created beautiful line patterns.




"Nature contains the elements, in color and form, of all pictures, as the keyboard contains the notes of all music. But the artist is born to pick and choose...as the musician gathers his notes, and forms his chords, until he brings forth from chaos, glorious harmony." ---- James Abbot McNeill Whistler

30 comments:

Leslie Avon Miller said...

I love your piece here Donna – The Way – especially the fabulous circles and the intriguing balance. It seems very Zen like. Tree branches make such graceful lines as they reach for the sun don’t they? Today the tree branches out my window are stark in the winter sky, offset by bright snow.
Imbi’s lines are rich and powerful, and I enjoy them so. She is one of my favorite mark makers. Her marks always seem to tell a story.
We all have the element of line at our disposal, but each artist’s marks are unique. Thank you for another great post, and thanks for including me.

Margaret Ryall said...

Donna,
You've given me new respect for line. I will look more closely at the world around me. I certainly see the evidence of your own observations in your work. Your piece here is delicate and beautifully balanced. I tend to be a colour texture person and depend on both to complete my own work. I will observe more line more closely now.

John M. Mora said...

Thought provoking post and I immediately saw a call out to Leslie in the circles in your stately gentle collage.

Your photographs make me "jealous" - I so much appreciate old pines these days, many died on Long Island - some dicease caused by an Asian beetle invasion.

Bob Cornelis said...

I suppose the line is the simplest essence of form and design so I can see it playing a significant role in a Zen aesthetic.

I love the Matisse quote - it imbues the simple mark of a line with life, intention and desire and defines the relationship of it to the artist in whose hands it's fate rests.

nancy neva gagliano said...

sharing the constant gratitude, for the here and now and wealth of each breath! this post is very moving to me, humbled by the wonder of the communication available at my fingertips...to access such beauty from such souls as yours, sending images out and thoughts in response to daVinci, matisse, hmmmmmmmmmm.
and aw! you wrapping some of your rocks, i'll make some marks, following that wondrous line.

nancy neva gagliano said...

oh,
and i REALLY really really like/luv THE WAY!!

Jeane said...

hello Donna - your piece 'the way' is wonderful - the circles seem exactly right - Antoni Tapies is one of my heroes :)

Amelia said...

Hi there,

Your week of art, chats, fun, sharing sounds so great, wish I could do this more, but alas childcare constraints, so parties for now!!

This piece about the line is completely inspiring. I now feel an urge to explore this. Recently I have been thinking about how I am drawn (?) to simple line drawings. Maybe this explains why. I love the image at the top.

A.x

Ian Foster said...

Hi Donna, Thank you for your inspirational post, The Way is wonderfully free and expressive, freedom in painting is something I am really struggling to achieve.
I am sure that your words and images will motivate me as your posts always do.

ArtPropelled said...

A new favourite for me, Donna. The Way is my meditation for today. Looking at it in the enlarged photo is truly a gift. Beautiful lines and photos of Japan too.

Kathy said...

This is a wonderful tribute to the importance of the "line." Your work, posted at the top, is a great example of the power of the line. The delicate circles in the bottom third perfectly balance the weight of all that is above them. That's power!

Dianne said...

you see the beauty that is spirit and nature, and your art makes us see it too...thank you!

La Dolce Vita said...

love the way...

Blue Sky Dreaming said...

Donna, 'The Way' is a wonderful piece...caught by your line creating the circles and the lovely half circle leading to perfect balance! This post is a favorite as you speak of line and every photo is important...love Tapies and got out one of my favorite books to revisit his art...thank you!

Deborah said...

Inspiring post. 'The Way' is a beautiful piece and the photos are striking.

sukipoet said...

the photos are stunning. The collage so lovely. And the words you write thought provoking and wise.

Liza said...

'but the artist is born to pick and choose" so beautifully put.
Thanks for the intro to Imbi Star.
Your collage is beautiful.
I love the tree (of life) in the middle. I was struck with the thought of layers of soil, and rock underneath it, like a cross-section view. The colours made it quite easy to get into that space.
Thanks for sharing.

Seth said...

A really interesting post! I love your collage. And I pretty much love everything that Tapies creates.

jgy said...

The way of blogging is intriguing, I was just 'called' over here to say hi, and I read thru your post and images, and got to the last line,
about how artists make seek to find harmony out of chaos, and guess what, it's E-x-a-c-t-l-y what I just made a pair of posts about!!!
Though mine is not quite so elegant or elequent as your beautiful post;

I'm making the same points on a line of thought, but with a 'kissing mint' package!
So, I send you a 'kiss' in friendship and connective comeraderie.

Nice to see Leslies work; like John I also recognized something familiar, when I read the words you quoted.

And last but not least, I love the 'way' the "way" is shown in your collage:)

MrCachet said...

I have a thing for Oriental Calligraphy. I especially enjoyed the advertising art I saw in Tokyo in 1970. There's a collage artist by the name of Anita: http://anitanh.blogspot.com/

Are you familiar with her?

bridgette said...

What a wonderful post Donna. I now have some great quotes on line to add to my collection.

And you know, "The Way" makes my heart beat faster. :) Beautiful work as always.

mansuetude said...

Yes!

and there was a phrase about all that is outside is inside ... on your sidebar... it widened a path of insight this morning.

a bow.

blessings.

rivergardenstudio said...

All of this is beautiful... the last quote though about nature and the artist is especially so to me. I am glad to have found you... roxanne

Studio Sylvia said...

Donna you have expressed the nature of line so well. A beautiful post. But how weird! I have spent the last two days taking images of line and pattern, that I have noticed on my morning walks, for my next blog post.

herhimnbryn said...

The line to simple, so complex. Beautiful.
Thankyou.

PAPER GIRL said...

Hi Donna;

...as always your images are so inspiring. I just love your way of viewing things....

FYI: I am giving away some of my papers vintage/handmade/decorative in a little give away next Tue. Hope you get a chance to stop by and add some Joy by signing up...

hope you are enjoying sun shine!
blessings,
Rosalind

Mick said...

I've spent quite a bit of time with some of my youngest granddaughter's (she's almost 6) drawings this week. She proves the Mondrian quote without a single doubt.

San said...

Such inspiring and evocative words. You've made your marks beautifully, Donna, and located just the right ones from others.

And "The Way" is gorgeous--I love your loopies and other markings.

prashant said...

I tend to be a colour texture person and depend on both to complete my own work. I will observe more line more closely now.

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