Informal Interview: My Continuous Line Drawing Style

Informal Interview: My Continuous Line Drawing Style

Conversation with a publisher while signing my work at a book launch last night:

What's your main style?

Continuous Line Bird 1I have two styles of drawing: in colour, I take a felt tip marker approach. In black and white, it's pen and inking all the way.

No, not what tools, what style?

Well, I most enjoy drawing an entire portrait in one line. One single permanent pen and ink line. No pencils. No erasers. No mistakes. I just let go and allow the fluid motion of the ink to mirror the motion in the shape of the form.

Picasso's continuous linesPicasso made a series of single line drawings. Klee called drawing "taking a line for a walk." Steinberg explored the properties of the single line too.

Are your single line drawings just like Picasso's?

Continuous Line Bird 2I'm not sure if Picasso did it this way, but I try not to look at the paper, almost entirely at the model or scene.

Do you know of any others who specialise this way?

No. I've never heard of it.

Baby Puffin Bird in One Continuous LineWell if you do, please let me know. I'm talking to curators about pulling together a small gallery of pieces that work within the method. Plus, I'm working really hard on trying to say no to illustration projects that want me to work in any other style. It's hard to say no when you're an early career illustrator, but it's the core of my current pet project so I kind of want to make it my sole focus at the moment.

What's the project?

I need to learn how to link the mouthI aim to illustrate my graphic novel, Delphi, entirely in one line. One pen and ink blind contour continuous single line that journeys through the whole book. If I can gather together my talented musician and animation friends I might just be able to make this thing an all singing all dancing kind of event.

How far along are you?

The graphic novel manuscript is researched, written and edited. The images and characterisation are developed and collated. The musicians and animators are on board. Final step: illustrate it. And I'm so excited! Looking back at old sketchbooks I'm realising now, it looks like it just might be my default illustration style. Do you know what I mean by that? Like, your default dance move. One motion that you use to connect to the scene around you. Then you build up from there. Maybe in comedy they'd be called one liners. Maybe in art my drawings should be called one liners too!


Anyone else drawing in this style?I thought I'd put this informal interview up on my blog to signpost my interest in the style to the wide world of webbers. I'm writing here in the hope the internet will help ask around to see if anyone else is working in this style.

So anyone out there drawing their own one liners please do send me jpegs of your work via the contact page on my website and I'll put them up, credit the illustrator and link to their contact pages. Hopefully, if investment follows through, you'll be on speed dial to hang your framed pieces somewhere pretty too. I admire every artist exercising this continuous line method. There's something steadying about the confidence it takes. Something cathartic about both the continuity and the completed circle. I think the world would do well to have a lovely little gallery that takes them on a cathartic journey, in one line.

Continuous line drawing
contour drawing
Gallery Linear Drawing One Liners Pablo Picasso Picasso Taking a line for a walk Steinberg All in line Paul Klee All in one line Klee Single line drawing Tamar Levi
Book Illustration
Pen and Ink
Saul Steinberg

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Alaskan raised, Cornish-Jewish, Belgium-based author and illustrator Tamar Levi has spent her life triangulated between desk, bookshelf and easel.Beginning by writing and illustrating whilst studying in London and Cambridge, Tamar also consulted for a leading multinational company. She's now come full circle, back to where she belongs, writing and illustrating again.


Send me your message using Contact form. Alternatively you can email me on tamarmagan[at]gmail.com.