Mohamed  Hirji

Fine Art

Twitter @mkhirji

The Concept Of Edges

May 10, 2018

Previously we looked at the value and colour contrast to direct the viewer's attention to the focal area. Today we will discuss how edges also accomplish the same purpose. The human eye, when it looks at an object, the image of that object falls on the fovea or the yellowspot on the retina. The fovea is the most sensitive area of the eye as regards to perception of colour and detail. Therefore the image is most detailed and sharpest at the fovea. At the periphery of the fovea, the image gradually gets blurred with the blurring increasing as the distance from the fovea increases.

It therefore stands to reason the our eyes will gravitate to an object that has the sharpest edge and is the most detailed.

In a photograph, everything is detailed and sharp unless one uses special techniques to only focus over a narrow zone with a wide camera aperture. In most photographs, it is difficult to perceive a focal area just on the basis of sharpness and detail.

In this photograph of the Bird Of Paradise, the background foliage is in focus and distracting. Apart from the bright colours, your eyes do not gravitate to the flower.

Bird Of Paradise, Photograph

Blurred Background, Bird Of Paradise

You will notice now that the background is blurred, the flower now grabs your attention, and would have done so even if its colours were not that vivid.

If therefore one wishes to create a painting as a human eye would sees, one has to make an effort to blur the peripheral objects. This technique has been taught and propagated in workshops and the DVD "Painting the Way the Eye Sees" by Jay Moore, a renowned artist from the United States.

The following oil painting named Patricia Lake Jasper painted plein air at the Patricia Lake in Jasper NationalPark, Alberta is a case in point. In the photograph, everything is in focus

The Photograph At Patricia Lake, Jasper National Park

In the oil painting of "The Patricia Lake Jasper," below however, only the focal area being the boats and the surrounding, has been painted in sharp focus.

Patricia Lake Jasper, Oil Painting.

The photograph captures everything in focus. The painting, on the other hand, uses the above concept as well as the concept of colour to act as a visual magnet attracting the viewer to the area of interest. Notice in the painting which is analyzed below how there is very little detail and sharpness of the edges in the peripheral area bounded in red versus much more detail and use of sharp edges in the area of the focal zone bounded in blue.

Concept Of Edges, Analysed

This concept is utilized extensively in watercolour paintings while using wet into wet technique in creating a sense of depth. One can appreciate this in my painting called the "Snow Cone" where the background bluish green blur represents the far away evergreens then some light tan coloured tree trunks which are a bit closer (these are also blurred or a proper painting term being soft edged) further forward and nearer to us are the darker brown tree trunks with bare branches and finally the stump and the fallen branch having most detail and texture (we will discuss texture in a future blog).

Snow Cone, Watercolour Painting

Feel free to ask any questions that may arise. If you like this, please forward this to your family and friends and contacts on the social media.

Mohamed Hirji