Paintings of Landscape – Design Tips Using Line

by Neadeen Masters on April 22, 2013

Successful Paintings Of Landscape  Depend on the Use of Line 

‘Line’ is an Element of Design that helps the artist move the viewer’s eye around the painting. Successful Paintings Of Landscape  Depend on the Use of Line, but how does this artistic concept specifically apply when painting a landscape? The design concept of ‘line’ can be used in many different ways. Besides helping with eye movement, it can also be used to place emphasis on an object, draw attention to a specific area such as the focal point, or used as a way to enhance the mood of the painting.

Paintings of Landscape - How to use line in landscape painting Well balanced use of Line – Painting by Pearce

Lines used within Paintings of Landscape, hold great Expressive Meaning

In some paintings lines can even be interpreted as having symbolic reference. Lines used within paintings of landscape, hold great expressive meaning. These lines send  subtle messages to the viewer. So how many kinds of lines are there and how are they used? There are horizontal lines, curved and vertical lines, as well as diagonal lines. Each plays an important role in the overall success of a landscape composition. They don’t all have to be used at the same time, but when they are teamed up with each other or used in combination, they each serve a specific design purpose.

When creating paintings of landscape, close attention to how one uses lines can result in success or become very problematic. This concept will be a key element when you begin to design your own paintings in the future. Learn as much as you can about them. Observe the painting above, the artist Pearce has used the line of the distant hills, the sheep and the horizon to allude to the calm mood of the scene. As you read on, you will understand better how the placement of the human form adds balance to the painting. Just know that line is used in the creative process and when learned and understood they can ‘kick-start’ a great idea if used correctly. For the sake of this short landscape article, here are a few design tips on how to use the first two types of line; Horizontal lines and vertical lines.

Two Basic Lines used in Paintings of Landscape

  • A Horizontal line – Such as the horizon, lies in a horizontal position or on the horizontal plane. This line is not contrary to the earth’s gravitational pull, basically it’s laying down. As a result, it will convey a quiet or calm mood and lends a sense of peace. In landscape painting, an artist can paint still waters, calm seas or lakes…all of these compositions would have several horizontal lines. Imagine the sun setting on the horizon over quiet seas with tiny little waves rippling across the canvas. Can you feel the quiet and calming effect from that visual?  The strong use of the horizontal lines will help to express the quiet or calm mood.
  • Vertical lines – Such as tree trunks, telephone poles, tall buildings, human figures will all be seen as ‘vertical lines’. These lines are contary to the horizontal lines. They are straight up and down and point towards the heavens. These offer a feeling of strength, and superiority compared to the lines that are ‘laying down’. Relative to design, the artist can use these vertical lines as a counter-balance in a painting that displays only horizontal lines. Too many vertical lines can also cause us to move very quickly through a painting. The viewer’s eye will follow the vertical object up and down; up and down… sometimes leaving the top or bottom of the canvas with no way to reenter the painting. Successful paintings of landscape will often illustrate how vertical lines are used and balanced with the use of a few horizontal lines to break up or slow down the eye movement.
  • Horizontal Lines crossed with Vertical Lines – when paired or used in combination, these two lines convey true balance. Think about a ships mast placed against the horizon, or the human form placed in a flat field, the combination of the two brings a harmonious mood to the composition and does not conflict or distract from the rest of the painting. As illustrated in the featured painting above.

To learn more about line and the Principles of Design used in paintings of landscape, do check out our comprehensive e-book written by the artists from the Art Apprentice Online.

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