The Art of the Line

Miniature Painting work station in Jaipur City Palace, featuring mineral stone palette, single-hair paint brush, antique rice paper and magnifying glass.

Miniature Painting work station in Jaipur City Palace, featuring mineral stone palette, single-hair paint brush, antique rice paper and magnifying glass.

The Art of the Line is another commonly used name for Indian Painting, as the line work is the most essential characteristic of the art. It is a smooth, elegant, flowing line that becomes emotive as it takes on the characteristic of each form in the image. A balance of force and flow, applied with delicacy and deliberation. The most effective way of learning how to paint this way is to spend time with one who has already mastered the technique, and then do as they do in order to try and experience what they experience. Often this means literally tracing the work of a master artist, because when you feel the flow of line as they drew it, you begin to understand how the technique feels in your body. It becomes experiential and as you refine your own style, you start to experience the mastery yourself. Seeing beyond the surface and into the experience.

Beginning stages of a trace, Jaipur City Palace, October 2017.

Beginning stages of a trace, Jaipur City Palace, October 2017.

When this stage is complete, the line practice continues by taking the trace and transfering it to paper. This is done either by applying pencil to the back of the trace and imprinting it onto paper, or using a carbon copy. With the line sketch now imprinted onto the handmade paper, we refine the practice of mastering 'the line' by painting the line again, being alert to correct any mistakes from the first round. This allows for familiarity through repetition of practice, while the smooth handmade paper enables greater flow of paint when practicing the line with the single hair brush.
The content of the image is not of importance to the artist at this stage. Just like a yogi practices non-attachment to their conditions, the line apprentice does not put their own preference into the training, but rather total effort goes into replicating the experience of the master. Just another of the ways that it is possible to apply the teachings of yoga and meditation into this art form.

In this traditional art, the technique has to be learnt first before it can be bent to personal taste. A certain discipline is required, in able to then fully support the flair of individual freedom.

Line Practice, Jaipur City Palace, November 2017.

Line Practice, Jaipur City Palace, November 2017.

I am in Jaipur until November 22, 2017 and then will be returning to Canada to teach art and yoga techniques. To see more and stay up to date, follow on Instagram: