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Using Few Lines to tell a Big Story

November 21, 2010

Ever wondered how to use few lines to make a big Splash? Poets are good at this, but rarely are architects and artists. Why? Because they are not sure what they are ‘doing’ and what process they need taking to create what they have in mind! Usually they make up a story after they complete their designs, then they ramble some esoteric sentences about their intentions and end up saying something that few mortals understand.  “Starchitectics” are good at this and perhaps even better than poets. Hasty, scribbles, incomprehensible doodles, are the vocabulary of many iconic architects that I could easily name. Picasso is my favorite artist who always uses few lines to tell his impressionist story. I also admire Gustav Klint’s beautiful female drawings where he creates stimulating and exotic nude studies with line drawings.

On my recent trip to Guangzhou, China I looked out the window of the White Swan Hotel and was impressed by the view of Pearl River as it snaked toward the horizon. I used few lines to create the shore, the buildings and the bridge beyond. This effort made me recall the nude studies I did 17 years ago. In the sketch, to the right, you can see how by using single lines, you can create an impression in which negative and positive elements play with each other effectively.

  1. Errol Hugh permalink

    My Facebook friends Thuy and Abbie think my comments on simple lines are ok. Thuy says “Simple says more” I like that better than “less is more” (Mies Van der Rohe)!

  2. Thomas Kwok also wrote that “Picasso certainly used only a few lines to tell a gigantic story with his line drawings…”

    Yes, I am always inspired by artists who capitalize on line drawings. I think line drawings shows maturity, conviction and visual understanding of what the author sees or think about.

  3. Harlan permalink

    Reminds me of this quote from Ayn Rand:

    “Art is selectivity. You cannot re-create every minute detail about anything, neither about an event nor about a person; therefore, that which you choose to include, or to omit, is significant—and you have to watch carefully the implications of what you say or omit”

    From “The Art of Fiction.”

    • Excellent! The design process is always important. You have the chance to evaluate you choices as you move through stages analyzing carefully where you are what your next step will be. Mine is a visual process and sketching brings light to directions as I move through the development stages. This visual process in the design profession is virtually lost after the invention of CADD. Most graduate designers end up becoming ‘operators’. However CADD has allowed more advanced and complex designs to be realized, but only after the conceptual stage.

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