Simon Bland

A Blog About Oil Painting


by Simon Bland / Sep 25, 2016 / Dog Demo Sketch Study

Study of edges in an oil painting

Edge Study, black and white oil paint, about 8x10. 2016

I'm finishing up my book on painting animals. You knew I was writing a book, right?

On reading through the manuscript once again, I finally admitted to myself that it needed a better discussion of edges - something I'd tried to avoid because it is such a daunting subject. And to go with the text, of course, I would need some images as visual aids. So that's how I ended up painting this little black and white study.

It's a simple figure which uses edge techniques to make it more interesting. I used hard edges (I allowed myself three of them) to underline the importance of some body parts and softer edges indicate rounder forms. It was supposed to be a quick sketch that ended up taking three days to finish because I kept moving things around.

As I did the study I came to the conclusion that edges are a tricky thing to explain. They are subjective and they can't be observed into a picture just by painting what you see in a reference. I think that's why edges get so little attention in most art books. Drawing, modelling form, values, color, etc. are easier to explain because they are generated from straightforward methods. By comparison, edges seem mystical.

And fancy edge techniques don't help a picture that has basic drawing or value flaws: that would be like putting lipstick on a pig.