C O N S D I D E R:
A point indicates position. It has no length or breadth. It does not occupy any area of space. It is the beginning and end of a line, and is where two lines meet or intersect. [Wong, Wucius. Principals of Two-Dimensional Design. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1972.]
Point, line, and plane are conceptual elements that are not visible. Thus when visible, they become form. A point on paper, however small, must have shape, size, color, and texture if it is meant to be seen. So must a line or plane. Volume remains illusory in two-dimensional design. [Wong, Wucius. Principals of Two-Dimensional Design. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1972.]
A point is the mark initially made as the drawing instrument touches the surface and is removed without making any directional progress over the ground. The action can be performed deliberately or casually, and can result in sharp, speck-like points or ones which are more blunted and diffuse--both representing concentrations of stain precisely located in space, and therefore fixed in time. You can see point as either the beginning or the end of motion in time and space--a specific physical "where" and "when." Furthermore, a series of points can imply direction. As the spatial intervals between points are reduced, the dots seem to string themselves together to become a line--a line of dots which move directionally over the surface as the eye works hard to connect them up. The point, therefore, as a drawing mark, can be effectively used to specify location, to imply time, and to indicate direction. [Crofton, Ian, ed. New York: Schirmer Books, A Division of Macmillan, 1988.]
Large, small, sharp, blunt, regular (geometric) or free-form and irregular. Smudge. Clarity. Weight.
Manner of grouping or clustering suggests form
Spacing and scale suggest motion, direction and speed.
Distribution, spacing and scale suggest surface dynamics--calm or restless areas.
Light or dark values as well as size and scale suggest spatial position.
[Crofton, Ian, ed. New York: Schirmer Books, A Division of Macmillan, 1988.]
"A dot," says Lauer, "is a shape, although generally a very small one. The scale, however, is relative. What might be a 'dot' in a large painting could be a large shape in a smaller drawing or print." [Lauer, David A. Design Basics (NY: Harper & Row, Inc., 1979.]
It is the most rudimentary element of design. It may or may not derive from something seen in nature, although nature does embellish many of its forms with this device: bird feathers, sea shells, flowers, and fish. A point could arouse a certain fascination on its own, especially when viewed very closely. Yet it is too small for sustained esthetic interest. It is almost always seen in combination with other elements, with other points, lines, and shapes. Like a single note in a musical composition, the point is only one of a group or a series, of a chord or a melody --important because of its place, its position, mainly. As Stravinsky says in Conversations with Igor Stravinsky: "The individual note determines the form only as part of the group or order." [Harlan, Calvin. Vision & Invention, An Introduction to Art Fundamentals. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1986. pg. 21]
The Single Point and Linear Trajectory. The single point, as we have seen, is chiefly an element of location or position, and therefore, tends to be static. Yet a series of points or dashes is, in a sense, a broken line. The eye following the path of these simple marks, will grasp the original motor act and transform them into a linear trajectory. The experience of movement and the imagery of movement are so commonplace in the twentieth century that we are surprised and perhaps a little amused that the Italian artists known as the Futurists should have made such a great to-do about them in the years immediately preceding World War I. True, we have become accustomed to speeds they could hardly have imagined; yet their ability to translate movement into images of singular force, seen in those drawings and paintings celebrating rebellion, speed, and the machine, remains impressive. We are tempted to compare the best of their images with the great animal drawings found in the cave at Altamira in Northern Spain, were the movement of line is seemingly the movement of life itself. [Harlan, Calvin. Vision & Invention, An Introduction to Art Fundamentals. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1986. pgs. 34-36.]
Whereas the point in itself may be of little importance, it gains significance as soon as it takes its place in a design. Our first consideration is not points or lines as such, but their arangement in variously related positions that give rise to some kind of repetition. [Harlan, Calvin. Vision & Invention, An Introduction to Art Fundamentals. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1986. pg. 23 .]
R E F E R E N C E S
1 Point n [ME, partl fr. OF, puncture, small spot, point in time or space, fr. L punctum, fr. neut. of punctus, pp. of pungere to prick, punctus, pp. -more at Pungent] [13c] 1a : an individual detail: Item : a distinguishing detail [tack is one of her strong __s] b: the most important essential in a discussion or matter [missed the whole __ of the joke] c: Cogency 2obs: physical condition 3: an end or object to be achieved: Purpose [did not see what __ there was in continuing the discussion] 4a : a geometric element of which it is postulated that at least two exist and that two suffice to determine a line. : a geometric element determined by an ordered set of coordinates b : a narrowly localized place having a precisely indicated position [walked to a __ 50 yards north of the building] : a particular place: Locality [have come from distant __s] c : an exact moment [at this __ I was interrupted] : a time interval immediately before something indicated: Verge [at the __ of death] 4: : a particular step, stage, or degree in development [had reached the __ where nothing seemed to matter anymore] : a definite position in a scale 5a: the terminal usu. sharp or narrowly rounded part of something: Tip b: a weapon or tool having such a part and used for stabbing or piercing: as : Arrowhead : Spearhead c : the contact or discharge extremity of an electric device for a spark plug or distributor]  chiefly Brit: an electric outlet 6a: a projecting usu. tapering piece of land or a sharp prominence b  The tip of a projecting body part : Tine 2  pl: the extremities or markings of the extremities of an animal esp. when of a color differing from the rest of the body c : a railroad switch : the tip of the angle between two rails in a railroad frog d: the head of the bow of a stringed instrument 7: a short musical phrase esp: a phrase in contrapuntal music 8a: a very small mark b  Punctuation mark, esp: period : Decimal Point 9: a lace for tying parts of a garment together used esp. in the 16th and 17th centuries 10: one of usu. 11 divisions of a heraldic shield that determines the position of a charge 11a: one of the 32 equidistant spots of a compass card b: the difference of 11 1/4 degrees between two such successive points 12: a small detachment ahead of an advance guard or beind a rear guard 13a: Needlepoint 1 b: lace made with a bobbin 14: one of 12 spaces marked off on each side of a backgammon board 15: a unit of measurement: as a : a unit of counting in the scoring of a game or contest : a unit used in evaluating the strength of a bridge hand b: a unit of academic credit c : a unit used in quoting prices [as of stocks, bonds, and commodities]  pl: a percentage of the face value of a loan often added as a placement fee or service charge : a percentage of the profits of a business venture [as a motion-picture production] d: a unit of about 1/32 inch used esp. to measure the size of type 16: the action of pointing: as a: the rigidly intent attitude of a hunting dog marking game for a gunner b: the action in dancing of extending one leg and arching the foot so that only the tips of the toes touch the foor 17: a position of a player in various games [as lacrosse]; also: the player of such a position 18: a number thrown on the first roll of the dice in craps which the player attempts to repeat before throwing a seven -compare Missout, Pass 13 19: credit accruing from creating a good impressin [scored __s for hard work] -beside the point : Irrelevant -in point of : with regard to: in the matter of [in point of law] [in point of fact] -to the point : Relevant, Pertinent [a suggestin that was to the point]
2 Point vt [14c] 1a: to furnish with a point: Sharpen [__ing a pencil with a knife] b: to give added force, emphasis, or piquancy to [__ up a remark] 2: to scratch out the old mortar from the joints of [as a brick wall] and fill in with new material 3a : to mark the pauses or grammatical divisions in: Punctuate : to separate [a decimal fraction] from an integer by a decimal point -usu. used with off b: to mark [as Hebrew words] with diacritics [as vowed points] 4a : to indicate the position or direction of esp. by extending a finger [__ the way home] : to direct someoneÍs attention to [__ the way to new knowledge -Elizabeth Hall] -usu. used with out or up [__ out a mistake] [__s up the difference] b of a hunting dog: to indicate the presence and place of [game] by a point 5a: to cause to be turned in a paticular direction [__ a g un] [__ed the boat upstream] b: to extend [a leg] and arch [the foot] in executing a point in dancing -vi 1a: to indicate the fact or probability of something specified [everything --s to a bright future] b: to indicate the position or direction of something esp. by extending afinger [__at the map] c: to direct attention [can __ with pride to their own traditions] d: to point game [a dog that __s well] 2a: to lie extended, aimed, or turned in a particular direction [a directional arrow that __ed to the north] b: to execute a point in dancing 3 of a ship: to sail close to the wind 4: to train for a particular contest
[Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition. Springfield, MA, USA: Merriam-Webster, Inc. 1995.]
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