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How to Differentiate Between Analytical & Expressive Lines

Sculpture that utulizes expressive lines
art image by cico from Fotolia.com

Artists use lines while drawing, sculpting and etching to produce portraits, sculptures and caricatures. Expressive lines are free flowing and express the artists' emotions. A sketch of the human form usually includes expressive lines. In contrast, analytical lines are more precise, logical or academic, such as the geometric lines used in drafting. Both types of lines are used to create 3-D artwork. Studying the lines that make up a piece of art can help you determine which kind of lines were used.

Drawing that utilizes analytical lines
Geometry background image by Makhnach from Fotolia.com

Determine whether the piece of artworks includes wavy, rounded or organized, rational lines. If the lines are wavy or rounded, they are expressive lines. If they are rational and organized, they are analytical lines.

Determine whether the artwork's lines are loose and gestural or more contemporary. Loose and gestural lines are expressive lines, and more contemporary lines are analytical lines.

Examine the lines' shape and form in relation to the piece of art. This aids in determining whether they are more free flowing (expressive) or structured (analytical).

Determine what, if any, feelings or emotions the artwork expresses. Expressive lines sprung from the artist's emotions, and they may have an effect on the artwork's viewer.


When determining the difference between lines, remember that expressive lines are free flowing and reflect the emotions of the artist; analytical lines are contoured and logical.

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