Tag Archives: Single line

Hot Cross Bunny and the psychology of colour

IMG_3425 Hot Cross Bunny

“Hot Cross Bunny”, single continuous line drawing painted in psychological colours. Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

In my posts I have said a lot about colour sequence and, along the way, talked about selecting appropriate ranges of colours for my drawings.  Here are some more colour comments, leading to the one about the bunny above.

I might consider that a yellow, red and brown range would be good for my horse. These have a similarity to its actual colours and give a warm and friendly feel which reflect the horse’s nature and temperament.

Fig 1.  Copy of IMG_5869 Horse complete, furst sequ

Colour Sequence on Single Continuous Line Drawing of horse. Mick Burton, Continuous Line Blog.

A strong harsh colour seemed to be best for my roaring lion and simple black and white achieved this.  In the mid 1960’s when I drew the lion, Bridget Riley had been doing many black and white hard edge pictures, and I did several of my animals in this colouring.  I feel that this worked best for the lion amongst my drawings.

016. 1967-9. Lion. Alternate shading, black.

Lion, single continuous line drawing with alternate shading in black and white. Mick Burton, continuous line Artist.

With my “Flame on the Sun” painting, the sort of anti magnetism represented by complementary red and green hopefully reflect the explosive violence required.

Flame on the Sun. Spherical continuous line. Mick Burton, 1972

Flame on the Sun. Spherical single continuous line drawing, with complementary reds and greens expressing explosive violence.  Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

For a more subtle result – my still life of a radish, apple, mushroom and flower heads – I used water colours to help to show the floppy translucent nature of the radish leaves.


Radish, apple, mushroom and flower heads still life. Water colour used to show floppy, translucent nature of radish leaves. Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

Sometimes I find that I can use almost actual colours.  Here is a commission drawing, with the continuous line running through both robins and the branch.  I  was asked to do only a hint of pink on the Robins’ chests.  This is fine.  However, I had to have a go at a full colour result for myself.  The perky nature of robins is reflected pretty well, I think, by these “near” natural colours.

IMG_3417 (1) Best. Pair of Robins.

Pair of Robins, single continuous line drawing. Full near natural colour. Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

My yellow, green and blue sequence of colours fits well for “Nibbles”, a friendly rabbit who likes nothing more than eating her greens.

IMG_3498 Nibbles

“Nibbles”, single continuous line drawing.  The rabbit has a suitable range of colours to reflect contentment just eating her greens. Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

However, for a rabbit drawn with exactly the same single continuous line as for Nibbles, but who has a completely different temperament  –  RED, BLACK and WHITE fits the bill.

This is, of course, “Hot Cross Bunny” who lurks at the top of this post.  A real, full on, “Psycho”.

The two Rabbit paintings and the Pair of Robins accompanied several other of my pictures at the Harrogate and Nidderdale Art Club exhibition a week ago at Ripley Town Hall.

At the Preview Evening various prizes are awarded.  One was the annual prize presented at the Spring Exhibition by Sir Thomas Ingleby, the club’s patron, for his own personal choice for the best picture on show.  This was won by Julie Buckley for her “Black Labrador”.  

Sir Thomas also mentioned other pictures which caught his eye.  He said that he liked all the paintings by Mick Burton, but never thought that he would ever consider buying one called “Hot Cross Bunny”.

Here is a bit of background to the Rabbit paintings.  Nibbles and Hot Cross Bunny are based upon my daughter Kate’s rabbits, Harriet and Clover.

Harriet was friendly and cuddly and Clover might have been better named “Cleaver”.  We kept them both in the garage – in separate cages.

When we bought Clover, a lop eared rabbit, the breeder was saying how friendly and harmless the baby rabbit was.  I asked if it was related to an adult lop eared which had just tried to bite my finger off and the answer was “Yes, it’s the granny”.  We still bought Clover!

She was alright at first but later became very aggressive.  Every time we opened her cage for any reason, she would bite viciously.  We also realised that some one else would have to take care of the rabbits when we were on holiday.

Strangely, I found that if I put a hand on Clover’s head as soon as I opened the door she would stay still and relaxed as long as I kept the hand there.  With the other hand I could top up food and water or clean out the cage.  This worked for all of us.  Fortunately, our neighbour was delighted to be able to do this too and things were fine when we were away.

After Clover died and I had buried her in the garden, Kate prepared a wooden plaque and nailed it to the fence “Here lies Clover Burton the rabbit”.

An interesting consequence of keeping the rabbits was that straw from the bale became piled on the floor of the garage.  One day the straw was seen to be moving and we feared that we had rats and so I was deputed to check it out.  I found a nest of baby hedgehogs.






Continuous Line Drawing Alternate Overdraw embedded image.


Abstract before Alternate Overdraw  embedded Dog appears.  Mick Burton, Continuous Line.
Abstract before Alternate Overdraw embedded Dog appears. Mick Burton, Single Continuous Line Drawing.



Here is an abstract Continuous Line Drawing which conceals an image of a dog.  Possibly you can see some clues as to where the outline of the dog is.  The idea is to carry out an Alternate Overdraw along the line throughout the picture which will produce the image of the dog.  Start the overdraw with the arc marked with chevrons.

After I developed Alternate Overdraw in 1970, which enabled me to allocate my colour sequence to continuous line drawings, other possibilities started to occur to me.  The first was that you could hide an image of an animal within what looked like a totally abstract continuous line drawing.

See below how the dog finally appears.  In fact it looks a bit like Ben, who we have been looking after this week.

Alternate Overdraw embedded dog appears.  Mick Burton, Continuous Line Drawing.

Alternate Overdraw embedded dog appears. Mick Burton, Single Continuous Line Drawing.

The start of the process was to sketch a simple dog outline and then , knowing that the outline had to include many crossing lines, I broke the outline down into short lines or arcs which were at an angle to each other.

Next, I needed to run lines through the dog, from various directions, which used these arcs.  For it to work, there had to be an odd number of arcs in each line which went across the dog, between each two outer arcs.  This was so that, after completion, when you drew an alternate overdraw across the dog, both arcs on the outline were overdrawn.  This would result in all the arcs around the outline being overdrawn, thus forming one loop of overdraw. 

Within the body of the dog, several overdraw loops were also formed.  Similarly in the background a number of overdrawn loops and inner loops resulted. 

Of course, trial and error is involved in connecting up all the loose ends (of the lines running through the dog) to achieve a single continuous line through the whole drawing.

Finally, having completed a continuous line, I needed to check that there were no obvious sections which would indicate that an animal was in there. 

I did one more embedded image in 1970 before moving on to other things.  This time, instead of making the abstract continuous line from flowing curves with no straight lines, I decided to use mostly straight lines and right angles.

Abstract before Alternate Overdraw embedded steam engine appears.  Mick Burton, Continuous Line Drawing.

Abstract before Alternate Overdraw embedded steam engine appears. Mick Burton, Single Continuous Line Drawing.












This time I  was concealing a steam engine and the Alternate Overdraw result is shown below.

Alternate Overdraw embedded steam engine appears.  Mick Burton, Continuous Line Drawing.

Alternate Overdraw embedded steam engine appears. Mick Burton, Single Continuous Line Drawing.





As always with my various styles, I wonder who else may be using them  and whether they were in use long ago.

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.


Definition of “Continuous Line Drawing”

As I mentioned in my first blog, there are many definitions of “Continuous Line Drawing”, most of which refer to a line which does NOT re-connect.

One of these is that the pen never leaves the paper and you draw until the picture is finished, but that you start and end where you like.  Also “Blind Contour Drawing” puts emphasis on looking at the subject throughout whilst you draw a single line.  These types may also have many merged lines and it may be unclear whether there is only one line, eg. when shading is done by repeatedly going over an area with the line.

To me, a line is only Continuous if it ends at the start point.  Lines that do not re-connect I call “One Line” or “Single Line”.  I only use the word “Continuous” if the line completes a circuit continually.   I own a book entitled “Picasso’s One Liners” which has over 50 of his great drawings, which all start and end in different places and, correctly, there is no mention of “Continuous”.

A One Liner in style of Picasso. M BurtonHere is a demonstration drawing I did last year based on a Picasso “One Liner”.  To be “Continuous” the line would need to return from the foot to the start point in the hat.






My definition of “Continuous Line Drawing” is one drawn line which ends back at the start point and the continuous route can be clearly followed throughout.Elephant,. Continuous  line drawing.

My basic style has lots of cross overs of the line, but some artists produce continuous lines which never cross over – which is fine.

Here are the “rules” of my basic style, where the line crosses over itself many times.


  • The finished continuous line has to cross over itself at least once, but must end where it starts.  It can be drawn in sections as long as the completed line is continuous (you don’t have to amaze everyone by doing it in one go without taking the pen off the paper !)
  • Where the line crosses itself it must be clear that there is only one line (not several merged lines).
  • A line can be drawn off the side of a sheet as long as it clearly re-enters the sheet at the corresponding point on the opposite side.  Similarly, if the line goes out at the top it must re-enter at the corresponding point at the bottom.  This enables the continuous route to be still clearly identified.  I call these “Spherical” drawings, in the way that an atlas map of the earth on a flat sheet denotes a globe.

So that is it !  I just wished to make it clear that most of the images which are referred to on the internet as “Continuous Line Drawings” are not really (to me).