Where the oblong is crowned by a portion of the circle, we find a gentleness together with loftiness, that at once suggests a religious picture.
The three panels grouped on the opposite page form a combination in which we have a perfect condition for the embodiment of religious thought.
The shape below them suggests more worldliness, more substance. The fast and the slow are so combined that we think of something cheerful and complacent in the space.
If lines have meaning when quite isolated, do we not now see that their combination in a frame conveys a more definite meaning? When we place them on a picture-surface we have a language as complete as any that is uttered in speech or music. Let it be our care to so control this language that it will utter our thought with exactness, and we must be equally watchful lest it express what we do not wish.
The lines in the Henner head are all considered with reference to their fastness and slowness. Their power in the picture space is as much due to their measure of velocity as to their manner of breaking up that surface. The former assists the latter. In the accompanying sketch, Fig. 89, 1 is the longest straight line on the picture surface, it therefore is the fastest and has the greatest force; 2 is slower, therefore well calculated to be an assistant to 1; 3 is slower than 2, because of its curved character. By its slowness and its position it is a check to the upward force of 1. Its expression is kind, yielding, binding the first lines with the frame. 4, the constantly interrupted line of the face, is slowest, and therefore well calculated as a resting-point for our eyes.
Our study of the nature of lines has increased our respect for their value. We can now consider combinations that produce "quality." For instance, it would be interesting to know what constitutes a graceful line, what is the "line of beauty."
"Grace" is a partly impetuous movement terminating with that which is affectionate, caressing. In the following cut we find the long line impetuous. Associating it with the section of a circle, a combination results that produces the desired quality.
It is the curve at x that gives the affectionate, graceful ending.
This line of beauty occurs everywhere in nature and is natural to art in its various branches.
We see it in the golden rod, in reeds and weeds, in the swan's neck, in the limbs of trees. The wave is made up of its shapes.
In the human form we find it in most charming variation, in woman's arm for instance, or in man's arm or hand, or in any part of the body when analyzed for line quality.
When attempting the portraits of women we should look for the lines of grace and beauty in dress and in the form revealed through dress.
In illustration 90 trivial lines have everywhere been omitted or subdued: the essential form-rendering, movement-bearing lines dominate and are made spiritual through grace and beauty.
Applying the theory of velocity to these contours, we begin to understand why this portrait is strongly emotional.
The lines of Fig. 91 owing to their selection and placing have beauty and express strong feeling; their tempo is wonderfully controlled and they are individually and intrinsically beautiful because of their grace. Lines A, B, C in Fig. 91 (see drawing 92) should receive our special study. They supply the impetus for the upward movement that is so pronounced in this picture. In them lies spirit, mentality, energy, aesthetic truth. Without them the facial expression could not be rendered so satisfactorily.
Illustrations 93, 94, 95, and 96, studied for their grade of velocity in lines, will be helpful. In the plain photograph 93 the frame lines are not affected by anything in the picture, their indifference is absolute. They are rapid, overpowering and self-assertive. Lines F and G in the drawing 97 are feeble when compared with the frame lines, yet in the figure they have most velocity. Unbalanced, unchecked, they hurriedly ascend the triangular form of the skirt. Our eye reads the tiresome effect instantly, finds no further resources, and we have lost our interest in the production. In Fig. 94 the introduction of D has changed the tempo of H, causing it to vary from L. (Refer always to Fig. 97 for designation of lines.) D, by its nearness, has moderated the speed of K and lessened the eagerness of G. Still more modifications come into the picture in the stage of development found in Fig. 95, where the folds marked A, B, C have all been made into useful lines, serving to balance D and to modify F and G. Emphasis laid upon these folds also proves that in photography we may strengthen lines that are not marginal quite as well as Gandara has done in his oil painting, — Fig. 91. The finished picture, — 96, shows many more modifications, such as the line E, that affects by its "checking" propensities all the uprights, quieting them. We also find the lines A, B, C strengthened by the emphasis of white. Just how emotion has crept in and permeated Fig. 96 it is not possible to put into words, but we have followed the process by stages. The practice of art will bring the light. This analysis does not, however, exhaust the structural secrets of Fig. 96. We still have the matter of "stability" to consider.