Edges and subtlety in painting

One of the goals in my work is to always maintain good control of edges. I like to see all conceivable edges in my watercolors, not just wet-on-wet and wet-on-dry.
I get to see a lot of work from watercolor painters and many people only have control of the two, most aren’t even aware that there are more!

The most elusive edge is probably the one that gives you fuzzy, controlled soft edges that stay in place and don’t cause disasters. It takes a lot of practice and patience. A common mistake is to carry too much water on the brush.

The other issue  for me is subtlety in color use. I like color but I don’t like screaming color! That’s just me.
Everything is either warm or cool in temperature and can be manipulated either warmer or cooler as the need arises. It is much better to think in those terms as oppose to constantly asking what color do I mix, what blue, what red…in the end there are only three, so it’s a futile exercise to do so! It just doesn’t help.

Quiet pond, by frankeber 2012          quiet pond, detail by frankeber 2012  (click on thumbnail to view larger version)

I’d like to post this painting of a pond. It is completely made up, although I did have references for the water. This painting is more difficult than it looks. One of the reasons is the fact that most of the values are pretty close on a value scale. No stark positives and negatives or dramatic shadows, even the sky is quite dark, comparatively speaking. But take a look at the edges, from super soft to super hard and everything in-between, is definitely there!

Can you spot the rower? Thanks for looking!


11 thoughts on “Edges and subtlety in painting

  1. Carol King

    What a beautiful, soft, misty painting. And yes, I was able to spot the rower. I like this very much. Perhaps all it needs is a taxi? 🙂

    1. frankeber Post author

      good idea! maybe about to submerge right there in the foreground? Hey, I have a better one: how bout some black garbage bags on the left hand side??? 🙂

  2. May

    Wow! Frank, you took the subtlety in color use, tonal value and edge control to a different level. Near, there is no shape can be defined; afar, everything comes alive. There is a magical air in this piece that speaks to me. The bridge not only connects the both sides, but also transforms from sky to water. The rower gives the life draws viewer in, and adds the movement to the serene scene (one red dot does it all). The reflected light next to the dark shadow (the best, the hardest) gives the depth and invites the viewer to explore more…
    All achieved by using baiscally a single color with multiple vales! Well done and love it.
    Thank you for your blog, it keeps me amazed.

    1. frankeber Post author

      Wow–right back to you! What a great comment and critique..I sure was hoping I’d had achieved all these things, but I am never completely sure and satisfied..I guess it’s part of growing. It probably wouldn’t be a good idea to be overly in love with your own work, like some artists out there!
      Thank you for your visit and your nice words!!

      1. May

        A good artist is never sure about his own art. The uncertainty and non-self indulgent attitude provides the room to grow. That’s why I like about you and your humble attitude, it reflected in your art.
        Thank you for being such a good teacher too, I learned so much from you.

  3. Sherry Schmidt

    Hi Frank, I love your blog posts. Thank you for the painting tips like edge control, which I need more work on. Hard to remember everything! I’ve found a couple plein air groups and am enjoying the paint-outs. I’m not toting an easel, just a 9×12 block which I hand-hold, tripod stool, rigger bag I set my palette on. I know I’ll need to graduate to a different set-up. Thanks as always!

    1. frankeber Post author

      Hey Sherry, thanks for coming to my blog! I started just like you, but then quickly realized that I wanted to paint bigger paintings onsite, plus the sitting is a problem as well; sometimes you spot a good view while walking around, then you sit down and everything disappears..

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