Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Importance of Line

As I mentioned yesterday, the flowing lines of kimonos in ukiyo-e are a point of fascination for me. In ukiyo-e there is no shadow, toning to create form, or traditional western 3D perspective. And yet, these prints are full of movement and do seem to create a world to look into.

The importance of line to artwork is echoed by Dow in his book on notan and composition: "A line-scheme underlies every notan composition, and a notan-scheme underlies every color composition." - page 67 Composition: Understanding Line, Notan and Color

Above you see another quick copy of a figure. In the Taschen book the editor makes the comment that the ukiyo-e figures are strange in that they are a bundle of flowing lines with a hand or foot stuck on the end, and yet they work. In some of them, there does appear to be a thought as to anatomy in the placement of the appendages. But most often, there is not a clear logic to the waves and folds of the clothing. The clothing seems to pay a passing attention to anatomy and then it just takes on a life of its own as the artists creates folds and waves pleasing to the eye.

In my mind, this is akin to Western art that suggests form but then moves on to stylistic concerns quickly. In my figurative work I have long sought to find the "magic formula" that tells me what is enough to make a convincing presence or posture. I'll let you know if I find it. These prints are an important step in that journey for me, I think. I'm planning on another exercise later in the week to help me continue with this idea.

1 comment:

Katherine Tyrrell said...

I think I'm going to have to try drawing some of his ladies.

I was learning Japanese this morning!