Tips on Oil Painting - Painting Edges

By: Remi Engels

Tips on Oil Painting - Painting Edges

There are several reasons why the use of edges in an oil painting is important:

* Degree of Hardness - Edges can be used to express the degree of hardness or softness of objects and subjects.
* Degree of Roundness - Edges can also be used to reflect the degree of roundness and sharpness of objects and subjects.
* Directional Indicator - Edges are an excellent help in mapping your painting. That is, they can be used to lead the viewer's eye around the painting and ultimately to the focal point or area.

This can be done in such a manner that the viewer is hardly aware of the manipulation. In the West, people's eyes enter a painting from the left. So, here is an opportunity to design your composition on the left as an invitation to enter your painting. From there, edges and forms can be used to lead and guide the viewer further into the painting and to the focal point. On the right of the focal area your composition should be designed to lead the viewer's eye back around to the focal area.

Of course, you are always free to break these sorts of rules if you have an interesting reason to do so. Also, be aware that in the East people enter a painting from the right.

In real life most edges look soft because our eyes are constantly moving. An edge will only assume its sharpness if we specifically focus on it. Therefore, it is best to keep the edges soft in general unless you want to draw attention to a certain feature as is the case with the focal area.

The other situation in which to use a sharp edge is when you want to make a certain feature appear to advance. But, in general, avoid excessive use of hard edges because they work against the creation of realism. On the other hand, a painting totally devoid of hard edges tends to look uninteresting. So, the solution is to put in a few hard edges but not too many.

Then there are also lost edges. These edges are usually applied when two neighboring shapes have the same value.

The whole thing starts with a visible edge and when this edge enters an area of equal values it becomes invisible or gets lost. Further down, the edge reappears where the value start to divers again.

The eye has a natural tendency to fill in the lost edge. The use of lost edges is artistically very powerful and should be part of your repertoire of tricks. Allowing the colors of one form to work themselves into the neighboring planes of equal value is a delightful way to loosen up a painting and make it visually dynamic. Note that a painting for some reason, as it progresses, has a tendency to tighten up.

In conclusion, there are three types of edges: the soft edge, the hard edge, and the lost edge. Most of the edges are on the soft side. Hard edges should be used sparingly with the intent of attracting attention or to advance certain features. The lost edge is usually used where values of neighboring forms become equal. They serve as a way to loosen up a painting.

About the Author:
Remi Engels is a pencil portrait artist and oil painter and expert teacher. Check out his Pencil Portrait Course.


Art tip on painting edges with Oil paint



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