Line Quality and Lost Edges

July 22, 2010 in Figure Drawing by joanvienot

Joan Vienot

Joan Vienot

I was privileged to be the guest artist at the figure drawing session at Studio b. this week while our regular instructor was on vacation.  My focus was on line quality and lost edges.

Sometimes  the edge between the two shadows becomes indistinct.  The same thing can happen with light areas, or for that mattter, any two similar values.  The edge becomes “lost”.  The artist knows it is there, and the temptation is to draw it, but the piece generally ‘reads’ better and is more interesting if some edges remain lost.  Lost edges require the viewer to participate, to look longer, to figure out what’s going on in the picture.

I showed some examples by Andrew Wyeth, in which he used thicker lines, thinner lines, and darker and lighter lines, changing line quality  midway through a line.  I also pointed out how he sometimes left edges completely undrawn, implying a line by edges of other shadows, or by creating a different value behind, so that the “line” was the edge of two values.

I asked the artists to leave some edges undrawn, or “lost”, and I have posted here a few of the drawings that demonstrate the concept.

Nancy Nichols Williams

Celia Rose Jameson

Nancy’s blue shadow covers the top of the right leg, the cast shadow, and the left side of the model.  The edges are lost in the shadow.  Celia’s shadows do the same.

Denis Wintersong

Steve Wagner’s drawing also has some wonderful changes in line quality, some lines disappearing into nothingness, others obscured by light or shadow.

I also have included a couple of warm-up drawings by Denis Wintersong and Steve Dagg, which show line sensitivity before I gave my spiel, so I can’t take much credit — these all are accomplished artists, and all I did was give them something to think about, that they probably were already doing anyway!

Steve Wagner

Steve Dagg

This being my first experience as the guest artist for the group at Studio b., I was honored to be in the middle of such talent and energy.