Friday, October 15, 2010

Edges 2

There are a number of purposes for controlled edges.

  • Expressing the edge of a shape turning towards or away from you.
  • Expressing relative smoothness of the edge of a shape
  • Pushing forms back or pulling them forward to establish their position relative to the other forms surrounding them.
  • Directing the viewers attention through our painting by subordinating a less important passage by using a soft series of edges, to an area you wish to be dominant, where you will use a harder edge.
  • Obtaining rhythm and variety throughout a painting by making your edges part of your design machinery.
If you begin your painting by massing in the major shapes and then proceed to the subject you may find it appropriate to start with softer edges.  Later you will feel more compelled to go back and modify some of these "approximate" edges.  Here you are sneaking up on the area of interest from the design of your concept as you progress.

If you paint "directly" (see Richard Schmid), you may start the painting in the subject area laying in intermediate and hard edges according to your design requirements.  Here you are subordinating areas not at the centre of interest as you progress.

Softening edges also gives a painting more unity. The eye "slides" more easily about the image without the hard edges seizing our attention to each separate area rather than allowing us to apprehend the entire image.

So, how do you come up with your design after the original concept has been determined?

Are you ready for this?  Squint and compare.  Squinting helps simplify the image, shows the relative value of the main masses (thus eliminating trivia), and it shows the relative softness and hardness of the edges associated.  You have to practice this.  You can practice in the kitchen while enjoying a cup of tea.

From before, a squint down noting edges.

Remember that this is a photo used for demonstration purposes.  The blurr occurs everywhere.  When you do this on site and you look at the subject area you choose, the hardest edge will occur there.  Out of the corner of your eye (while still looking at the subject area) the other areas will be subordinate.  This is how our eye works.  So when I was composing, my concept was to use a spot in the upper right hand third as the subject area.  The photo here shows some relatively hard edges there.  The noted hard edges shown above I subordinated.  The concept was to use the fence line to lead into the subject area.  I then used some colour and value contrast to further enhance the subject area.  

It takes more than seeing the edges, you have to design the effect and install them.  You are the artist.

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