Line Theory

  • Post published:January 11, 2019
  • Post category:Visual Art

It’s good to have technical knowledge, and to dig deeper into things for greater understanding. A lot of us can’t do certain things unless some of our questions are unanswered, and so we are paralyzed by it. Let me use English grammar as an example to illustrate my point, and to encourage you to experiment and try out new things.

If you grew up here in the West, then English comes naturally to you. Your English might not be at a master level, but you’ll be able to communicate and express yourself without much difficulty, even though you don’t know much about the ins and outs of the English language. And so, if I come and ask you, “What are the rules of Grammar?” You might have a blank look on your face. A lot of English speakers don’t know the rules of grammar. Yet, they can speak! They can communicate! Foreigners on the other hand struggle with it. I struggle with it. I ask questions that native speakers don’t ask, or don’t give much thoughts to. They feel no need to in their day to day lives. Whatever they know, it works, and so they’re sticking to it. As a foreigner, I have two choices: 1) Don’t communicate or even try to speak until I know enough grammar rules, 2) Communicate, even though I don’t know all the rules, and as long people understand me, then that is good enough. I can learn the rules as I go if I need to improve.

It is the same with art. A lot of us have been drawing since we were kids. Yet, we rarely pause to ask about line theory. And if others start to ask us, we would have a blank stare. Those that are getting into art with a critical mind are faced with many questions such as, “Why is the line thick here? And not there? Why is it overlapping here?” Some are paralyzed by it, and so they can’t sit down to experiment or try out art because they still have questions that are not answered. They have two choices: 1) Don’t do art until all questions are answered, 2) Do art and learn as you go.

It is good to ask questions, and to dive deeper. It’ll help you to understand your field much better, and you’ll be a good teacher in the end because of it. Yet at the same time, do not let unanswered questions hindered you from experimenting and trying out new things. I have a lot to talk about Line Theory later on, but for now, be encouraged, be brave, be bold. Art is not always about perfection, about having everything understood.