Monday, July 26, 2010

We'll meet on edges soon said I

I mentioned last night that I would write a post on edges. I have written a lot about edges back in the first months of this blog. The painting last night had an edge handling problem. I want to show you a little about that. Above is a painting of a mountain ( humor me, the mountain is the lower shape). The brushstroke runs the same way as the mountain and is visibly striated. That sets up an unnatural relationship between the mountain and the sky. This is clumsy and evil.

Here is one of several possible better fixes. This time the strokes bear no relation to the mountain. I pulled them away from its edge. This is better handling generally. This is true in a still life of an object or around a face in a portrait. The strokes can be pulled together to make them less visible. This also doesn't leave a ridge of paint where the sky and the mountain meet.

Then I can soften the edge with a brush from which I have wiped all of the loose paint with a rag. Just tapping or carefully pulling the brush along the edge will soften it.

Above is how I was taught in the Ives Gammell studio. When working on a picture day after day, it was good to paint the background down over the object, like so......

Then the object would be painted back up over the wet background. This confers several advantages. One since you have wet up both sides, you are not trying to get a soft edge of wet paint on top of dry paint. That is very difficult to control well. But the big advantage to this is for folks working a number of sessions on a painting. If you don't do this and you repaint the passage repeatedly you will develop a thick and visible edge where the two forms meet.

I wanted to mention that Armand Cabrera is showing Waugh paintings along with some quotes from Waugh on seascape painting. Armand Cabrera Art and Influence. He has a great blog and I link to it on my side bar. However the Waugh posts are of particular interest to me and I think to readers of this blog as I have referred to Waugh repeatedly. He shows some nice Waugh paintings too. Those are hard to find.


Craig Daniels said...

Thanks for showing the details on edge control, many people talk about edges but rarely does anyone show you how to do so.
Trial and error is fun for a while but not every day.

Unknown said...

Hey Stape! Hi from (at the moment) cool and rainy New Mexico! I love this post on edges. I do believe edges are way more important than most people give them credit for. There's a saying I like:
Don't let your background know what your foreground is doing.
As in that first example, don't paint around the edges of something...

Steve Baker said...

Great post Stape. That business about painting the background over the object at the end of the day sounds like something I need to try. It makes sense, I just hadn't thought of it. Often I've noticed you mentioning that you have said something before. I recently gave up teaching fencing. I can tell you that many times over the years I told a student something that I know I had been repeating for years and suddenly they would look surprised and I knew that it had registered. Sometimes I had used a slightly different phrase (I tried to do this often) but sometimes it was just the frame of mind that they were in. Never feel apologetic about repeating yourself. If you do it often enough you'll be heard.
Steve Baker

Debra Norton said...

Hi Stape, I was just reading one of your "re-runs" and you mentioned (in the comments) Mary Rose Pettis. Is that the Mary Pettis who lives in Taylors Falls MN? I took a great workshop from her a few years ago.

Lisa McShane said...

Well we definitely don't want evil backgrounds! I'm going to try the back and forth with the background/foreground tomorrow.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you. I have written a lot more if you search through the archives under "edges" for them.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Hey Deb;
Glad to hear you are out there still.

Don't let your background know what your foreground is doing.
I like that quote.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanks. It is always a little different when writing the blog. I can't see peoples faces and judge the reaction I am getting from them.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Yes that is the same Mary Pettis. We painted together a lot about 30 years ago. She is a very good painter and I expect her workshop was excellent.

Stapleton Kearns said...

No we don't. Evil is common enough without it infecting our paintings.

Nancy Bea Miller said...

Nicely explained, thank you! I have to confess a certain liking for hard edges, at least sometimes. A painting that is all sharp and hard-edged may not give a convincing feel of reality, but it carries a certain conviction or emotional punch, whereas a painting with soft, dabbled edges can look pretty wishy-washy, even if more realistic. IMHO!

DJ said...

Thanks for the wet n wet tip, Stape.
Edges can be many things; and evil is definitely one of them.