A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 177: 18 Single Lines

18 single lines self portrait

Self Portrait in 18 Single Lines, Ronald Kok, Coloured Markers, 2017

Last week I discovered that a single line has a lot to say. On a whim, I decided to turn the experiment into 18 single lines.

There is a pack of dollar store coloured markers at my workplace, the kind that dry out really fast. It just so happens that it is a pack of 18 different colours. After filling a couple of sketch books with single line portraits using a large black marker, I felt like another step or two was needed in the experiment. So I grabbed that set of markers and did the above self portrait, using each marker only once to create it.  I wasn’t working off of a photo, just recreating myself in simple lines as I think I might look. I found the exercise to be fun and challenging, a sort of planned spontaneity. So I decided to up the ante…

I work at a day program for adults with developmental disabilities. I am part of running the art studio there. There are always a number of artists who I interact with on a daily basis. I asked three of them last Friday if I could draw their portraits. Below are those three, also done with 18 single lines, each a different color.


Nola in 18 Single Lines, 2017


Sophia in 18 Single Lines


Alison in 18 Single Lines, 2017

Far from a sort of “photo realistic” image, yet conveying a lot more than I expected, I was happily surprised at the results. So much so that I think this is a style worth exploring more. There was no pencil drawing to start, instead I jumped right in with the first colour and just flowed from there. It was a bit scary and required far more concentration than I initially realized. But it forced me to boil the portraits down to the bare essentials and, hopefully, to convey something important about the personalities in those portraits.

The 18 lines of colour reminded me of the many facets that make us who we are, whether or not we are categorized as having a “disability”.  Each of us is so unique and so imbued with a distinctness that even a few lines can display that for the world.

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