"Softness of Spring"
Winsor & Newton Shades
I had a wonderful email recently asking me how I knew when to use soft or hard edges in a watercolour. I must confess I seem to use this technique naturally now ,without even thinking, and maybe thats' a great stage to be at as an artist. For some reason my brushes automatically seem to guide my hand and as well as my thinking process while a painting develops. Which doesn't really help anyone very much if they would like to know the answer to the question!
There are so many explanations on how to use soft and hard edges but for me it is a matter of balance in a composition. Too many hard edges give the feeling of a painting created from a preliminary sketch, often with all the detail showing. But too many soft edges can sometimes lead to an abstract effect where the viewer of the finished piece cannot even tell what the subject is.
If you look at the above painting of Spring flowers you can easily see how several petals merge into the background and also into each other as the flowers meet. The soft edges give a superb illusion of movement whereas the hard edges let you know where the petals are.
My artists tip is to aim to lose part of your subject at the early stage of a painting. As the painting develops the minute you can tell what the subject is without any further definition , stop! Don't worry about adding every single detail or outline. Be brave enough to just paint what is necessary to tell the story and have fun experimenting.
All of my Spring watercolours will be in 2014 exhibitions. I will share details shortly.