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A Drawing is a Record of Your Engagement

By February 10, 2018Uncategorized

Drawings by Ruthie V.

I received a very nice letter today. It’s about line, and how one League artist improved her quality of line – not by thinking about improving the quality of her line directly – but by checking in on her level of engagement with the drawing. It’s a nice letter. Enjoy.

Dear Ruthie,

While not a newly invented art term, you gave us a perfect definition of “line” last summer. It’s far more evocative of line in art than the more common Respectable Definitions like, “an identifiable path created by a point moving in space,” or “lines are marks that span a distance between two points.” I think it was genius, and because it has helped me.

“Line is a record of your engagement.”

It was so lovely that I wrote it down, (or did I record my engagement with it with short lines that formed words?) and it has helped me in figure drawing the past couple of weeks. I see a noticeable difference in the quality of my line in relation to my level of engagement, and it can change in an instant. When my mind flits to something that isn’t the subject, my lines reflect it. I think it’s helping me be less judgmental and a bit more objective about my work. I can look at some drawings or parts of drawings and see, or even remember, where I felt most or least engaged. It is easier for me to work on my engagement with the subject than it is for me to think about how to make a lovely line.
In college I had a figure drawing teacher that constantly bugged me to improve my line quality, but I was at a loss for how to work on it, and became less and less engaged with the class. If only I had had your off-the-cuff definition in my pocket…
Shari Heege

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