PA Clive Riggs discusses drawing line and mass...
...His third post in this  series of tutorials.

Part1 - Part2 - Part 3

Once you have a feel for using line, that is placing linear boundaries around objects or shapes and a feel for mass; areas of tone used to describe 3 - dimensional form, you can then use the qualities of these two approaches to assist you in composing exciting pictures.

Your choice of mass or line will be largely one of style and medium. Line doesn’t fit well with oil painting (only in the preparatory drawing if that is your style, as it was in the Renaissance) but it will with watercolour. Mass, or rather using masses does dovetail nicely with all media or styles to some degree and is definitely an approach you will be applying when using tone or colour. I am avoiding colour as a subject here but here are some final ideas to help you.

Lines can work together to create various effects, especially emotional effects. A very good example to look at would be the Frontispiece to Songs of Innocence by William Blake. Have a look on the internet and see how the lines are repeated and work together throughout the picture. They can also work in opposition to create tension, if that is not your intention, watch out for that as it will have an effect which you might not be able to see immediately.

Masses should generally be balanced, this can be done by weight (that is area, dark or light). An excellent example of how to balance large and small masses is Wooded Landscape with Cattle by a Pool which you can find on the BBC site, Your Paintings. Note how the figure is placed and see what happens when you cover it up with your finger to block it out, is it still balanced?

I have gone into some detail about line, mass and tone and I have warned of the distraction that is texture - keep form and tone in mind and your pictures will have more strength. There is a lot more to the story than this however a basic awareness is a great place to start and finding your own preference is very personal and the fun bit. I hope you now have enough information to find your own way.

About Clive
Clive is a professional artist, Educated at The King's School Ely, he served with 9 Parachute Squadron Royal Engineers before studying fine art (painting) at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in Dundee. He qualified as a lecturer in 2006 and taught art and design in an FE college before deciding to dedicate more time to painting and printmaking while still teaching adults both privately and in community education.

Find out more and visit Clive's website

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