Our ‘big, bold, bald* and beautiful’ (his words, not mine) Australian painting tutor Charles Sluga, who is returning to the mill for another of his famous watercolour courses this October, has just posted this fascinating painting tip in his latest newsletter
Charles says: “Probably the most obvious sign that you are looking at the work of an amateur painter is the inclusion of to many hard edges. Now before you get upset, of course there are exceptions. However, it is generally a sure sign of someone that has a way to go in understanding painting.
“A painting with too many hard edges makes the image look cut out and flat. “A combination of soft/lost edges with hard edges allows the eye some respite and also allows the eye to travel through the painting in a rhythmic fashion. More relaxing that the jarring hard edged approach.
“So how do you get these soft or lost edges? The soft edges you produce at the beginning of your painting by allowing the water and the paint to flow. Basically avoiding the colouring in approach. Let edges and colours bleed into one another. “The lost edges, they can be produced at any time in a painting. What is the difference between a soft edge and a lost edge and how do you make them? I may have to cove that next time.
“In the meantime, just try to avoid having all, or too many, hard edges (or soft edges) and aim for a combination of the two. “It is a big step towards producing work of a higher standard.”
Here’s a Charles watercolour of King’s Cross Station in London. Charles says: “This painting has a fair few hard edges, but these are offset by lost and soft edges.”
The painting at the beginning of this article is of Lucca, the wonderful walled Italian town where we go to paint on Wednesdays during our week-long courses. Charles says: “This painting has more soft edges than the King’s Cross painting above, but it still has some important hard edges. It is the combination of edges that makes a painting work. Note the counter change of edge of the white tower and the dark building on the left.”
Charles Sluga is a highly respected and sought-after watercolour artist in Australia who has gained a reputation for his versatility in both his technique and choice of subject matter. He’s a great teacher, with a friendly and enthusiastic approach and an eagerness to impart his wide knowledge.