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Simplicity of Line

Published by :   on  07 Jul 2014

Simplicity of Line


Authenticity of voice resides in the mark of hands that cannot lie, no matter how awkward or unclear. Whether gesture or technical plot, line is one of the most expressive of all design elements. The sincerity of mark is immediate; it translates that which is unspoken in a script of sort, legible to the emotional mind.

It is called yugen, by the philosopher Fugiwara Shunzei, when there ” is a reception of possibility and a willingness to admit there is meaning beyond what can be described”. And this deeper meaning is most fully held within a Simplicity of Line.

Simplicity of line in it’s motion, pressure, and placement on the page, can express various forms of information to the viewer. Consider the calligraphy of the East, or the form of the Enso. The drawing of the Enso is done as a spiritual practice. The Enso symbolizes impermanence and enlightenment. It is considered an expression of the moment.



But simplicity of line has not only been developed in the eastern aesthetic, but can be seen in the works of the great masters of the West. For example, consider the sketches of Leonardo Da Vinci. Though, often plotted in technical detail, the lines are essential, describing the form in a fluid motion.


To practice the simplicity of line is one of the goals of an art education, whether explicitly stated or not. To be in the moment with the drawing instrument and connect what was seen in the eye with the doing of the hand is essential. Gesture studies begin the first day of class and continue to show the progression of understanding of subject matter and the emotion or tone of the moment the mark was laid down.

So the artist must …..practice… to more fully uncover and refine their essential mark making skills ….because we communicate more than what the words can spell out or the final form presented on the page. We read and make judgments as to the experience, dedication and spirit of the artist who leaves their mark.




Tracey Datsi Pennell 1/30/12


Work Cited

Shunzei, Fugiwara. “Japanese Aesthetics”. Donald Keene. Aesthetics in Perspective

Kathlene M. Higgins, Fort Worth, Texas: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1996 (678-687)

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