Research on Mark Making, Types of Lines, Shapes & Emotion:
Mark making describes the different lines, dots, marks, patterns, and textures we create in an artwork.
Mark making is used – in the form of separate brush marks or dabs of paint – to add life, movement and light to paintings. Artists working in an expressionist style such as Willem de Kooning also created representational artworks using mark making. In his Untitled drawing of 1966–7 de Kooning uses rough charcoal lines, marks and smudges to suggest the movement of the people he draws.
Action painters such as Jackson Pollock (who dripped and splashed paint onto his canvases)
Thin lines are fragile. They appear easy to break or knock over. They suggest frailty and convey an elegant quality. They are delicate and give off an ephemeral air.
Thick lines on the other hand appear difficult to break. They suggest strength and give emphasis to nearby elements. Thick lines are bold and make a statement.
Horizontal lines are parallel to the horizon (hence the name). They look like they’re lying down, at rest, asleep. They suggest calm and quiet, a relaxed comfort.
Vertical lines are perpendicular to the horizon. They are filled with potential energy that could be released if they were to fall over. Vertical lines are strong and rigid. They can suggest stability, especially when thicker.
Diagonal lines are unbalanced. They are filled with restless and uncontrolled energy. They can appear to be either rising or falling and convey action and motion.
Curved lines are softer than straight lines. They sweep and turn gracefully between end points. They are less definite and predictable than straight lines. They bend, they change direction. Curved lines express fluid movement.
Zigzag lines are a combination of diagonal lines that connect at points. They take on the dynamic and high energy characteristics of diagonal lines. They create excitement and intense movement. They convey confusion and nervousness as they change direction quickly and frequently.
Circles have no beginning or end. They suggest well-roundedness and completeness. Circles are graceful and their curves are seen as feminine. They are warm, comforting and give a sense of sensuality and love. Their movement suggests energy and power. Their completeness suggests the infinite, unity, and harmony.
Squares and rectangles are stable. They’re familiar and trusted shapes and suggest honesty. They have right angles and represent order, mathematics, rationality, and formality. Squares and rectangles suggest conformity, peacefulness, solidity, security, and equality. Their familiarity and stability, along with their commonness can seem boring.
Triangles can be stable when sitting on their base or unstable when not. They represent dynamic tension, action, and aggression. Triangles have energy and power and their stable/unstable dynamic can suggest either conflict or steady strength.
Spirals are expressions of creativity. They are often found in the natural growth pattern of many organisms and suggest the process of growth and evolution. Spirals convey ideas of fertility, birth, death, expansion, and transformation.
Bradley, S. (2010, March 29) The Meaning of Lines: Developing A Visual Grammar. Retrieved from https://vanseodesign.com/web-design/visual-grammar-lines/.