Thursday, February 27, 2014

Port Penrhyn Marina - Original Watercolor Painting

seascape, landscape, boat, sailboat, marina, uk, wales, penrhyn, bangor, anglesey, menai, oberst, watercolor, painting
The marina at Port Penrhyn in northwest Wales.

If you'd like to purchase this 11" x 15" original watercolor painting for $200 including shipping within the United States, you can do it securely on my website (click on the image). There are additional paintings for sale there, and my smaller paintings are available on my other website  Add a unique original painting to your collection!

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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Artist Tip #25 - Edge Variation

Our paintings are composed of shapes and lines, which are two of the seven Elements of Design.  The other five elements are essentially just characteristics of shapes and lines.  Edges separate the various shapes and lines in our paintings, and it's important to vary those edges to avoid boredom and bring entertaining variation to our creations.

There are four general types of edges that artists can produce:
  • hard
  • soft
  • rough (or intermediate)
  • none (or lost)
A hard edge is a very well-defined difference between two shapes in terms of texture, value, or color. A soft edge is a gradual transition between two shapes, so that the position of the edge is not well-defined.  A rough or intermediate edge is just that - some sort of combination of hard and soft.  Its exact characteristics depend on the medium being used.  I paint in watercolor, and a rough edge is created by dragging the brush sideways over the paper, thereby depositing pigment on the "hills" of the paper and not in the "valleys".  From close up, it does indeed look rough.  From far away, where the details are not visible, it looks soft.  The fourth type of edge is a lost edge, or no edge at all.  Edges are most often lost only along a part of the edge of a shape.

And what of lines?  Lines are really just very thin shapes.  They also can be hard (completely defined), soft (painted into wet), rough (that is, with some skipped spots), and lost (where a large part of a line is not explicitly painted).

The worst edge mistake of most beginning painters is to make all of their edges hard.  Besides producing a monotonous and boring painting, hard edges make the shapes appear to have been glued to the paper or canvas.  They remind us of coloring books, where we learned as children to stay "inside the lines" if we wanted a pat on the back from our mentors.

Even if a symbol has a characteristic edge type, we should include a bit of another type here and there for the sake of entertainment.  The painting At Anchor has examples of all of these various edges:

Although the cloudy sky is normally represented with soft edges, there are a scattering of rough edges for interest and variation.  What we usually want to avoid in the sky are hard edges.

Soft edges can also be seen in the reflections of the ship hulls in the water.  There are plenty of hard edges on the ships and between the silhouettes of the land and the sky and water.  The land silhouette on the right has many lost edges - although separate buildings are suggested, there aren't any real edges to define them.  The viewer's imagination has to do that work, which is a good thing.  A few soft edges between this shape and the sky would have improved this painting.

If you look closely, you can find not only hard but also broken lines in the masts and rigging, and some of the rigging doesn't quite reach the mast where it's headed (lost).

Here's one more example to consider -  the painting Country Church:

Note the tops of the background trees - mostly rough edges, to suggest leaves, but some edges softened for the sake variation - and also to assist in the illusion of depth.  There are plenty of hard edges in the building, and notice the lost edge between the darkest part of the tree trunk and the ground, and the rough edges between the shadow shapes and the grass shape.

So - to make your paintings more entertaining, and to give the viewer something to ponder, vary your edges.  Having almost all of your edges hard is the worst edge mistake you can make!

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