Lost & Found Edges, A Demo

Edges: They’re one of the single most elements in a painting that can make or break the piece.  My demo of “Pescadero Point” addresses the technique of good edge work.  I refer to these edges as “lost and found edges”.  The name says it all.  Edges in any painting should consist of a balance of lost and found edges, edges that can be easily seen (found) and other edges that are not easily seen or (lost). These types of edges in your work will give your piece believability and allow your forms to fit easily into their environments.  Good edges will keep your forms from having that “cut-out” appearance.

I hope you find this demo helpful.

Pescadero Point Light, Pebble Beach, 20 x 14, Oil on Linen

I start the piece the same as any other painting.  I start with lining out the basic forms, blocking in my darkest darks and then moving onto blocking in the rest of the shadows.

I continue to block in my shadow shapes.  Notice the varying colors in the shadows.  I use a combination of warms and cools to create the shadows and the reflected light which is found in these particular shadows.

I now begin to paint the light onto the rocks, trees and more soft details are added to the background. Notice how even the light on the rocks moves from a cool light to a warm light as the rocks come forward in the painting.  I then begin to address the edges in the painting. I make sure the painting consists of both lost and found edges or soft and hard edges.  I believe most edges in a painting need to consist of soft edges.  Hard edges should only really be reserved for those areas in the painting where you want to lead the viewers eye.

These edges are create using a soft mongoose hair brush.  Using a dry brush technique I drag, very lightly, paint along the light portion of the form into the adjoining shadow forms. This technique does require practice and patience.  The hardest edges in this piece are found up near the cypress trees.  Note also the amount of colors in the shadows of the rocks.  A combination of warm cools and cool cools.  Using these combinations will bring your shadows to life, thus making your painting more interesting.

If you have any questions please let me know.


11 thoughts on “Lost & Found Edges, A Demo

  1. Kevin, I have admired your control of edges ever since I first saw your work and wondered many times what your technique is. As you know there are a lot of ways to sharpen and soften edges…but, a soft mongoose hair brush..gotta get me one…I can feel my paintings improving already.

  2. Hi Kevin,
    I have followed your work for some time now and always enjoy your paintings.
    Just wanted to say thank you so much for posting these demos.
    They are very helpful; please post some more if you have time.

    Cheers, Don B
    In the pacific northwest where the sun (is it true?) is out today after 2 months of almost solid rain!

  3. i’ve seen you list your palette before. it did not include white. do you ever use white? if so, which one …?

    thank you

  4. Hi Kevin, Thank you for sharing these techniques. I’m always struggling with edges and I can use all the help I can get. What type of mongoose brushes do you use, flat, filbert, round?

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