For me, this week’s visual-spiritual subjects were all about lines. What is a line? Geometrically, a line connects two points, or, from another perspective, it is a path traced by a moving point, i.e. a pencil point or a paintbrush. Lines are all around us, vital elements in every work of art, way of seeing, and moving into the “new.”
While snowfall pummels the Midwest and other areas of the country are experiencing frigid temperatures, our winter rains are beginning to green our hills and fields. The grapes in the vineyards of the Sonoma and Napa valleys were harvested in the months of August through October, but now, well after the harvesting, the grape leaves change to vibrant fall colors. These colors, with our first “winter rains,” are producing carpets of green under the lines of vines.
Occasionally I choose an area to photograph without any preconceived notion of what images I will be coming home with, and this week I did that. Although I had been to the location before, this time my mindset was different. Park the car, look around, and don’t drive off until I have two or three printable/blog-able images. I decided to look for every kind of line I could find in the landscapes around me.
What is a line? Often we limit the definition of lines to Geometric lines which are mathematically determined; they have regularity and hard or sharp edges. True geometric lines are rarely found in nature, but often found in things we humans have constructed. These lines convey a sense of order, conformity, and reliability. They can be horizontal, vertical, or diagonal. But lines are also curved, jagged, implied, irregular, and even fluid.
The curve of a line can convey energy. Soft, shallow curves recall the curves of the human body and often have a pleasing, sensual quality and a softening effect on the composition. My image of the row of vines on a gentle slope creates a curve that leads us into the distance and to the grand oak tree someone planted many years ago.
What is a line? A line is an identifiable path. It is one-dimensional and can vary in width, direction, and length. Lines often define the edges of a form. Lines can be short, long, thick, thin, smooth, textured, broken, flowing, erratic, dark, light, heavy, soft, hard, playful, ordered, even, variable, calligraphic, authoritative, tentative, irregular, smudged, uneven, straight, crooked, choppy, ghostly, and graceful — the variety is endless.
Using shallow depth-of-field I captured a small segment of a jumbled and discarded wire fence (pictured above). The sharp lines of the foreground wires are contrasted with the feel of the unfocused soft lines in the background. Originally the wires were joined together to create an impenetrable fence. But, by photographically reducing the fencing to lines, the fence is transformed into something malleable and beautiful.
I hope, in the new year, we use all these formats of “lines” to point us to new paths that will connect us to each other, to hope and peace, to justice and the honoring of all peoples, and to the earth’s creatures with which we share this sacred planetary space. That’s my line today – malleable and beautiful.