Tuesday, 18 October 2011
ON THE EDGE
A reader asked me to touch on the aspect of EDGES, with sketching in mind rather than painting –which is a whole different subject I will tackle at a later date .
We all use lines to define shapes…we put OUTlines around everything, and as children, would then “colour in” those outlines.
Very often, these edges simply do not exist in the real world. People, for instance, are not flat, like stage scenery. Neither is a ball, a pear, a flower. What DOES have edges then? A box has an edge – well, several of course. So does a rectangular or square building. All sounds rather obvious, I know – but we still feel the urge to put lines around everything, even if there is no actual edge.
However, making a hard line where the eye stops at a so-called edge, might well visually flatten the form and destroy the illusion of three-dimensional form. Since we are trying to create this illusion, on a flat, two-dimensional surface…paper…we need to find ways to tackle the “edge” so that we are hinting at a continuance of the shape, beyond that contour edge. Visual examples are always best, so take a look at the vase sketches below. You can clearly see how unnecessary the hard edge lines for the sides of the vase are in the bottom image, if anything, they seem to bring the sides of the vase forward! Very simple examples, but very effective to show how much we need to develop sensitivity to edges in our sketches, particularly if we intend to develop the 3-D form with the use of tonal shading.
Without the use of shading, a greater sensitivity to the weight of the lines we use, will also help enormously to reinforce the illusion of three dimensions. We need to become more responsive to our subject, and in so doing, our drawings will become more expressive, and far less mechanical.
Take a look at this Rembrandt drawing. His lines appear to flow spontaneously, but every one is telling. We can sense the form and changes of plane, and we even understand the direction of the light. We can feel the weight of her head, and the weight of her sleeping body pressing into the bedding. It is a beautifully expressive brush drawing, not even remotely mechanical, and it “breathes” on the paper because the figure is not enclosed in “wire” with a hard edge all around it. This was a quickly-executed drawing..which shows that it is not the time spent that makes a worthwhile drawing, it is understanding and sensitivity.
Time spent studying master drawings, and thinking more carefully about your own drawings and the edges you use, will help you enormously when you come to tackle the subject of “lost and found” edges in painting…..watch this space, folks….