Thursday, January 12, 2012


The thin lines between the stones in a wall are nothing and everything, in the same way a 'joint' can be defined as either a 'joining' or a 'separation'. This is the beauty of definition. This grasping of ‘definition’ is essential to our seeing anything at all. 

When any area of interest is carefully outlined, it often produces a pleasing aesthetic quality. 

Some of the paintings by the Group of Seven make use of this same principle. The shapes of trees and branches are often traced with thin ribbons of bright colour showing off the vibrancy of their contour, as if to suggest nature is perceived more perfectly when it is seen as being ‘held together’ by outlines. 

The shapes jump out of the canvas, while at the same time nestle into each other perfectly.

Is it the darker outlined pattern in a dry stone wall that we pay attention to or the stones themselves?


  1. Depth by definition or the idea to penetrate deeply, is helped understood by outlining as in the case of Tom Thomson's painting The Jack Pine. Outlines define the space giving focus to what becomes forground and tangible, contrasting with the shadowed background, giving a third dimension to the work. Colours used in paintings, (or gardens) can also help create the illusion of greater depth, as can the darkness of lines that surround the stones in a dry stone wall. It it that third dimension that gives the wall a stronger sense of "being" than the two dimensions that "fall flat" in that of a wall standing flush with joints of mortar.

  2. I agree, the depth explanation just seems like good reasoning. The next question then becomes - how important is it that the outlines around a garden or the spaces between the stones stay as uniform as possible and not vary in width?

  3. I don't believe that complete symetry is a necessary element in either a garden, painting or that of a wall. An overall balance in the 'work' as a
    whole is what gives it cohesion. This allows the eye to view the complete
    form fluidly. In my view, I think a non symetrical wall has an earthier, more natural connection to what we expect to see in a landscape vista.