Thursday, March 10

The Importance of Edges

Flowers in Vase
Acrylic on Arches 300-lb. Watercolor Paper
7 x 9 in/17.8 x 22.9 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2016 
One thing about painting that took me a long time to understand is how important edges are. You notice I said understand, not figured out, and certainly not mastered.

Our eyes and our brains naturally look for changes. It's how we see where one thing ends and another begins.

Edges are one of the subtleties of a painting, or they should be, that affect the look and feel, the mood, the style, and in my opinion, can make or break a painting.

An important thing to remember about edges is not to make them all the same. They should have variety. Some should be sharp and distinct. Some should be lost. The art is in learning and knowing what kind of edges to paint and where and when.

Edges are used to show depth, with softer edges being in the distance. Edges help show the viewer where to look and let the painter emphasize or de-emphasize an object or area. They can also be used to help show the texture of a surface.

A good way to learn about painting edges is with water media, either watercolor or acrylic. With either you can easily paint sharp edges and, by adding a little water, make them disappear or almost. You can practice and see where edges should and shouldn't be and how to use them to control a painting.

Today's image is a simple painting, but I think it shows how edges can move the viewer around a painting. See how your eye moves and stops as needed on the sharper edges of the vase and leaves, for example. On the other hand, the lost and found edges of the flower petals help portray their softness.

Edges are important!

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