Painting and walking on the edge.

I don’t remember hearing any discussion of the quality of edges in any painting class I ever took on my way to a degree in art. Perhaps I was just too ignorant to recognize the importance of it and simple didn’t listen.

When we translate that 3-dimensional world into flat shapes on a canvas or paper, there is no “in front or behind, there is only adjacent. One shape shares an edge with another shape on the surface. If we are only involved with the items we are painting we won’t see these edges. In face, we will want to clarify all of the edges. If we really look at the edges we will discover that most of them are not too clear. Only a few are sharp and focussed. Some are lost entirely.

oil painting on canvas.

In this painting of a lady walking down a street with her shopping bag, I was very taken by the edges. Almost all of them were soft focus. The door jam wasn’t sharp at all. If I had clarified it, it would have cut the painting apart. I particularly liked the lost edge on the front of the bag.

The curb could likewise have been alien if I had sharpened the edge. I deliberately made it even less defined.

Control of the edges is much easier in oil paint. Watercolors  give us a generous 30 seconds or so to adjust the edges. Wetness of the paper, amount of paint in the brush, and the amount of water in the brush all have to be calculated to achieve the degree of softness desired.

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