Monday, 1 July 2013


I wrote some time ago about edges in I thought I would touch on the importance of "lost and found" in terms of painting.

Adjusting edge qualities in a painting gives the artist the opportunity to subtly introduce a fascinating element of "now you see it, now you don't" ambiguity to their work.  As an element of design, attention can be deliberately directed to selected areas, and other areas can then be more simply suggested, or even "lost" - "lost and found"  "hard and soft", whichever term you use, there can be no doubt that edges can be an important visual factor in a painting.  Let's examine a painting of mine "Bookfair Couple"

In this image, our attention is fully focused on the couple and their intimacy, as the girl thumbs through a book.  Notice how the light edges of their clothing are sharply defined, set against dark a result, the angle of her right arm, which is echoed by the angle of the opening of her shirt, and the angles in the man's arm, are all very obvious.  However,by contrast, edges which are "softer", and therefore less visible, are the girl's fingers where they meet the book;  the chap's collar where it meets his neck; the edges of the books, they almost melt together, the edges just lightly suggested;  the background to the left of the couple, the backs of the couple's heads, they disappear into the darkness behind...all of these "softer" edges doing the job of effectively "knitting" the couple into their surroundings.    All of these edges are "lost" or "soft" and therefore simply do not attract attention.

In the patio still life below, notice how the sharply defined edge of the main, central planter,  and the sunlit top of the wall behind it, draws our attention, while the little terracotta pots just below and to either side of the big white one, attract much less attention because their edges are softer, the bases of the pots almost melting into their surroundings and into their shadows too.

If I had sharply defined every pot, in the way a camera might do, some of the atmosphere of this piece would have been lost.

So - beware of the real world.  Do you really NEED to paint every brick in the wall? Put an outline around every object?   You are an artist, not a camera.  You should be more discerning than a camera, or what's the point in might just as well take a photo and frame that!   If you are working from photo reference and want to give the impression of great distance in a painting, why accept the hard edge of the mountain in the photo, without questioning whether a softer edge would better emphasise the distance for you?   If you painted folds in soft, unstarched fabric with relentless hard edges, wouldn't it look more like crisp folds in paper? Painting every edge, defining each with equal clarity, can give you a stiff, wooden look to your work - and often, the sense of three dimensions can even be compromised - an apple, given a hard edge all around, could end up looking like an apple-shaped coaster;  a cloud could end up looking like flat hardboard stage scenery!  You need to use your brain as well as your eyes.  And squint a lot.  

Studying the paintings of others will give you lots of information. As you do this, notice how you are drawn to the main areas of the image, and ask yourself how the artist managed to do this.  Study the edges, it may well be part of the story.  Looking at paintings in this way, is really exciting, because it adds a dimension to the viewing that is far more satisfying than just "oh, this is a nice painting".



I have just begun a "Folksy" shop for some of my craft pieces - enamels on copper, and ceramics.....I am building the stock slowly and gradually (not easy, since I keep selling the darn things which means I have to make more.......but I am not complaining really......)

the FOLLOWERS confusion

Followers. ???   I don't really understand what is happening with Blogger, and what is going on with "followers" but they no longer exist from today apparently -  and "members" and "Google+" stuff, it is all double dutch to me and nobody seems able to explain it properly...but if you have any problems receiving or finding this blog, I'd be grateful if you would let me know to jackiesdesk at


  1. Still getting your RSS feed Jackie

  2. I found this wonderful post via my bloglovin feed.

  3. Beautiful colours... Beautiful Paintings....Inspiring

  4. Wonderful post, Jackie as always. I will share it to my Facebook page for my artist friends and students. You are such a good teacher. Thanks for being a friend!

    And, your followers are not going away as I understand it. Just the RSS feed for google readers. Don't really understand that, but I think you are safe with your followers, and those that sign up for your newsletter.

  5. Google reader is gone, but I transferred all my blogs to Feedly before it left, so I am still getting your blogs.


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