The Necessity of Contour Line in Painting to Achieve a Credible Form | The Cave of Apelles

The Necessity of Contour Line in Painting to Achieve a Credible Form

Jan-Ove Tuv gives his analysis on the use of the contour line in historical paintings, from the icon tradition to the Renaissance and Baroque and even how it has been employed in sculpture.

In this video you will learn about:

  • How the contour line lends credibility to the whole form
  • Why you should calm down contrasts within the contour line
  • The detrimental effect of many details, strong contrast and color
  • How a solid contour line makes a work easier to read
  • Why Klimt’s “Kiss” wanes in comparison to an ok icon
  • Similarities between Titian and the best Russian icons, and their roots in the Greeks
  • Why Greek sculptures trump Bernini
  • The danger of becoming ornamental or decorative
  • Scraping off the newly painted layer with a palette knife

▶️ Full video:
🎵 Full audio:

Fergus Ryan
Matthias Proy
Børge Moe


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  • Apelles was asked why he touched and retouched his pictures with so much care, to which he replied:
    "I paint for eternity"