Toward One or Two Lines

In a previous post, I noted some words of wisdom by Paul Klee. He said, “In my opinion, you have to know what you want to draw, and then you have to be able to depict it – with only one or two lines.” (from The Bauhaus Group by Nicholas F. Weber). I have been thinking about this. I mastered the first step of Klee’s suggestion and decided what I wanted to draw: my brother Michael’s hand in one of his stereotypical gestures, as depicted in a photograph. Mike is my older brother who is autistic, low functioning and nonverbal.

The photograph I refer to is of Mike giving a ‘high five’ to one of the staff members at his group home.

Mike high fiveing

I progressed from editing the framing of the photograph to include my brother’s head and his right hand, in the post, Shifting Gears, to a more severe edit that includes his right hand and part of his head: his eye, forehead and some of his hair.

Portrait of Mike - part of high-five photo

Part of High
7″x5″ 140# Rough Watercolor Block

Hand and eye only, in a portrait of my brother

High Five, Edited
12″x9″ Cold Pressed Watercolor Paper

Finally, I figured out how I can depict some the essence of ‘High Five’ with only a few lines. At this point it is more than two lines, but I am still thinking of how to reduce the drawing even further.

Line Drawing of Hand and Eye

High Five Abstraction – Pen and Ink
Image approximately 2″x2″ on sketch paper

Is a one or two-line drawing an icon?

Abstracting the essence of what one wants to draw with one or two lines seems pretty close to designing an icon. Once I develop a one or two-line drawing of my subject, how do I present it on a page? I can imagine at least two scenarios: 1) the one or two lines filling the page. Here, the quality of the line would be of dominant importance, as in sumo-e; 2) the lines making up the drawing would be part of a larger cast of characters on the page, perhaps as part of a narrative, or other type of organization of icons.

Today’s watercolor study

I’m still having fun practicing my wet-on-wet technique. Below is an attempt at red in the center dissolving into blue, through the intermediate color yellow. The blue corners never stayed too blue. The ended up as a greenish shade.

Watercolor Wet-on-Wet Technique Red to Blue

Wet-on-Wet Red to Blue
9″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Paper

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