Exploring “Line” From a Spiritual Perspective

A couple weeks ago I described how God, Himself, created and used what artists call “the seven basic visual elements.” Visually, everything that we see is a combination of line, shape, form, value, texture, space, and color.

This week I want to take a close look at LINE and the spiritual insights that they offer:

• First, we use “line” to establish the outside edges of things we are drawing or painting. The following is a painting by Paul Cezanne called “Three Apples” painted about 1878-79.Paul Cezanne, Three Apples, 1878-79

Artistically Cezanne has chosen to retain the dominance of the line on the edge of the apples, but take a look at a real apple and you will notice that there is no real line on the edge of the apple. Instead of a line you really see a change in the shading (value) or the colors between the real apple and its background.

While there are seldom real lines on the edges of things, we use the line to establish the edge of that shape or form. The line is the “boundary” of that item. That’s where the spiritual insight begins. In the Torah (first five books of the Bible) we see over and over again that God emphasizes the importance of boundaries. Just this week I was reading in Deuteronomy about how people must not move the boundary markers of property. That reminded me again of the injunction to not mix species or fibers, to set aside the Sabbath, and to keep things holy separate from the ordinary. God is a God of order and not of chaos. Our need for “line” to at least initially establish the boundaries of our subject matter is a reminder that boundaries are essential to the creation of order.

• Second, there is an “invisible line” that seems to run through the center of most things. I find that students often have problem with a drawing because they are caught up in the shape or texture and don’t notice the invisible line. The following illustration demonstrates this. In the first drawing of the lemon and the tree the students complained to me that their drawings looked “kinda weird.” Drawing in the invisible line (second drawing) I pointed out to them why they had lost the symmetry of their item. The third drawing is their corrected sketch.Image 16

The spiritual point that I want to make is that God has imbedded His plan in everything that He has created—sort of an invisible line. In art we learn that once we can determine that hidden, guiding, line, it determines how the rest of the object will be drawn and painted. However, it is also true that God has planted a guiding line, a plan, a destiny in each of us. If we try to manage our lives without regard to that guiding line He has implanted, our lives may also end up looking “kinda weird.”

As a result of studying and thinking about the use of line in art we discover that God has created boundaries to establish order and to protect the existence of all the things that share the planet with us, and we also see that His will is like a line determining His unique plan for each of us.

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