Monthly Archives: August 2014

Salvador Dali continuous line drawing

Dali continuous line drawing in pen and ink, guitar player on horse, dated 1948.

Dali continuous line drawing in pen and ink, guitar player on horse, dated 1948.

 This is an original pen and ink drawing on paper and is dated 1948 and signed Dali.  I have referred to One Line drawings by Picasso in a previous post, but this drawing is virtually a continuous line drawing.

When I say virtually, I mean that the artist has used a series of lines throughout the drawing which could be connected up.  I presume that using a dip pen meant that as ink ran out he took the pen off the paper to dip the nib and then continued from a point nearby. 

In effect, he has drawn all the key areas in single lines, which is the initial stage in my drawings, but presumably with no intention of connecting them up or reviewing them further.  I have little doubt that the whole drawing would have been completed relatively quickly in one session.

I bought the drawing “in the manner of Salvador Dali”, as there was no provenance with it, but my first glance convinced me that I had to have it if possible.  It was the continuous line drawing effect, with an added bonus when I saw the signature.  Whoever did the drawing greatly impressed me and my researches into Dali pictures of around that time confirmed that he was producing drawings similar to this, with several elements the same. 

Many of these elements appear in “50 Secrets of Magic Craftsmanship” by Salvador Dali published in 1948.  In fact he seems to have done a quick drawing inside the front cover of  some of the original edition copies.


Variable grid single lines

In 1969 when I was selling prints in the Merrion Centre art exhibition in Leeds, some one asked “Are your drawings done by computer ? ”   At the time computers were rubbish regarding any form of drawing, so I eventually made my own “drawing machine”. 

In 1973 I built a box with 8 perspex rulers lying in one direction and 8 more perspex rulers lying on top at 90 degrees to the lower ones.  Each ruler had alternate inches marked (or not marked)  with a thickish black line.  Any ruler could be pushed in or out one inch to change the whole pattern of single lines displayed by looking down through the rulers (the box could be lit from underneath). 

I could keep altering various rulers until an interesting pattern of lines appeared.  I call these “variable grid single lines”.  One seemed to represent a church and I applied a colour sequence to the picture.  Recently I have modified some of the sky colours and stretched the picture to a rectangle on canvas and here is the result.

Church with Red Sky. Variable grid single line drawing. Mick Burton, 2014

Church with Red Sky. Variable grid single continuous line drawing. Mick Burton, 2014


I did many larger drawings on large square graph paper but found that you can’t vary the lines without a lot of rubbing out.  What you can do is look for smaller areas within the grid which provides a good picture in its own right and replicate that.  The single lines can go out at the sides of the picture, but it is possible to create a continuous line within the picture and then any lines within that are all closed lines as well. 

Both these methods are,  of course, stepping off points for putting these sorts of designs onto a modern computer and generating loads of possibilities in the twinkle of an eye.  I try not to cross that line and feel that it is important for me to keep in the pre-computer art sphere, so that any of my drawings can be created using the mind and the hand with minimal use of technology.   Some latitude is allowed, for as  David Hockney has said, “a pencil is technology”.

I am interested in what computers produce, even though I do not want to use their creative expertise myself,  and was amused when I read about an artist who programmed his computer to generate hundreds of his pictures overnight, whilst he was asleep, and then in the morning he would wade through the results and pick out a few good ones.

The brick wall, as far as my interest in computer pictures or animation is concerned, is when I cannot tell whether what I am seeing is a photograph or film sequence of the real world or a clever computer animation.  That is where art dies.