Coloring inside the Lines 14x11 oil by Shirley Fachilla
I had a request to write about what Carolyn Anderson had to say about edges. (For those who didn’t see the last post here, I’m just back from an outstanding Carolyn Anderson workshop.)
An edge definition might be handy. To a painter, edges are those transitions between one color and/or one value and another. Think of a coloring book. The lines defining where to put one color and where to end it are a painter’s edges. The lines in a coloring book are also a primer on how not to handle edges when you’re a grown-up artist.
In representational paintings that attempt a “realistic” version of the world, there would be few "hard" sharp edges (think knife and cliff edges). And they would be used to call attention to something the artist considered important within the canvas. “Soft” edges (think folds in chiffon, shiny windblown hair) would be the usual rule with the very fun vanishing edge functioning as a way to marry one form to another.
Now Carolyn really said none of the above. She talked about edge variety and explained edges with pictures rather than words. She did this, I think, because edges are a nuanced skill. There are many different kinds of edges within the broad categories of hard and soft. Lots of soft edges without variety create a dull painting; lots of hard edges make a confusing one. To discover how to go about making the right edge, an artist needs first to study how it’s done in many good paintings. Carolyn used Sargent, Sorolla, Fechin as some of her examples. There are, however, some beautiful, illuminating and educational words about edges, on the first page of Carolyn’s website.
Coloring inside the Lines was done from one of Carolyn’s assortment of photos while at her workshop. One afternoon we worked from photos rather than from life. I loved and envied her many great photos of ballerinas.