Get your tickets now for the 19th Annual Sourland Mountain Festival, on July 13th, before they're gone!

Last month, I discussed the philosophy of art that asserts that there are five principle components to painting or photographic art. The five are texture, color, composition, representation, and line. This way of understanding art may be totally out of date now but it was what I was taught long ago in a college class. The theory did not require all of these elements to be present in all paintings or photographs, but they provided a key to seeing or making art. In last month’s essay I emphasized texture in my photographs of the Sourlands and this month I am emphasizing line. I have selected photographs that also have what I consider a pleasing composition, and they clearly represent plants, or in one case a butterfly. In some of them, texture is also apparent but I think that in every case line is the dominant element.

I can’t remember anymore what plants are in this picture, nor can I determine what they are by looking at the photo, but I’m very fond of the vertical lines, contrasted with the dancing seed heads at the top of the image and the leaves that look like bows at the bottom.

Frost highlights the veins in this winter view of an oak leaf. When the leaf was green and attached to the tree, these veins were conduits for water and minerals that roots collected and sent up the tree and out to every leaf. In turn, the veins carried the sugars that were made by photosynthesis into the limb they were attached to, and then the sugars passed on to the trunk and roots of the tree.

The limbs and twigs of this birch tree are the main lines in this image, but most of the twigs end in a catkin that are the tree’s flowers. The catkins are short, fat lines. Every birch tree contains both male and female flowers, and the wind blows the pollen from the males to the females.

This is a tangle of perennial grass in early winter. Grasses are immensely common and immensely important; most of the major plants we use for food are grasses, and much of the earth’s surface is covered by grasses.

This photograph of false hellebore leaves could illustrate texture, but the deep groves of the veins and the striking lines created by the edges of the leaves are the dominant element for me.

Spring beauties are small and close to the ground, but they take no chances of being overlooked by pollinating insects. All of their lines lead directly to the nectar in the center, and on the way there the insects will pick up some pollen to fertilize the next plant it visits.

The trees and their shadows in this iced-over swamp are straight lines, punctuated by the puffy cluster of snow at the trees’ bases. By the way, the difference between a swamp and a marsh is that swamps have trees but marshes do not.

The trees and their shadows in this iced-over swamp are straight lines, punctuated by the puffy cluster of snow at the trees’ bases. By the way, the difference between a swamp and a marsh is that swamps have trees but marshes do not.

The lines in this monarch butterfly’s wings are hollow tubes that transport a blood-like substance to the wings. They also give the wings stability.

The silhouette of a Queen Anne’s lace reminds me of a snowflake.

Bottlebrush grass is one of my favorite grasses. It grows in openings in a forest as well as in meadows. I find it lovely in spring, summer, and (above) in fall. Many species of grasses have graceful arcs like this.

This is an explosion of lines. They are different colors, different widths, and they go in different directions, but I think this photo still holds together nicely. In fact, it is my favorite photo in this essay.

By Jim Amon.