Edges – soft, hard, lost! How important are they?

Watercolor Teaching on DVD and online lessons

Edges are very important in our paintings. When painting we always must be aware about them. In my Watercolor Videos you always hear me saying “soften your edges”. Different kind of edges help us to make our paintings looking real, looking as a whole and not looking like a puzzle. Edges guide our eyes through a painting. Edges give a painting different dimensions.

It is important to have a good handling of edges in a painting.

Hard Edges

You also can name them ‘found edges’. This are edges which are easily to see as they have
a hard line. When you want the viewer of your artwork looking at a specified area in your
painting then paint there hard edges. The eye will follow them. Usually the center of
interest has these hard edges as we want the focus there. The edges of the center of
interest should be seen with perfect clarity.

Lost Edges

Working wet in wet is usually the best way to get lost edges. Lost edges do disappear or
they blend with another. In my rose painting you see me creating a lot of lost edges in the
background, as excample when an edge of a leaf blends together with the background.
The hard edge is lost.

Soft Edges

Areas in painting, which are not in the center of interest, have soft edges. One way to
soften the edges is to do this immediately after a wash was applied. With a damp brush.
The other way is to use a little scrubby brush. The soft edge is there, but it has no harsh
line.

Edges in photographs

Please have in mind that in photographs the edges are only hard! So it is up to us artists to translate the photograph into a painting. A good rule to start with is to paint the edges of the center of interest hard and from there we paint soft and lost edges.

Compare the two photos below. This are from my painting in my White Rose Video. It is easily to see what a difference the softened edges do make to the painting. In the left photo the rose looks like ‘cut out’ and in the right photo the rose is now part of the scene. All edges around the rose are soft, because the leaves only support the rose. The leaves are not the center of interest.  Often an edge of a leaf blends together with the background and cannot be seen. This kind of edge is a lost edge.

Edges - lost, found, soft edges from Watercolor DVD How to paint with watercolors
Conclusion

Edges are very important in our paintings. Always have in mind what they can do for your painting, how they can help you to guide the eye through a painting and what a difference make them when they are softened. When painting with watercolors it is always possible to soften them at a later point. Don’t forget to have a look at my other free watercolor lesson.

Happy Painting

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