Tip number 3: Enhancing a Hidden Edge

Sometimes the photograph that you are working from doesn’t show pale edges very clearly against a pale back ground. This can be called a ‘lost’ edge, very useful in a painting, it might be part of what attracted you to the photo in the first place, but it would help to know what the shape is as you setting out your painting.

One of my students, Molly, was using a photo of a duck with a very pale breast standing on very pale gravel with virtually no texture. It was difficult to tell how far out the duck’s breast extended for her to able to put in an interesting back ground, so I came up with this idea!

The first two images show a sunlit edge and a deep shadow edge.

Both these edges could be hard to define, so I printed them, just on copy paper, and then painted on the print with a fairly thick wash. This showed up the edges and enabled me to see where I was going!

I hope this helps, especially with things like petals on a pale flower, birds with white bits, white cottages in the mist, etc. (it took me ages to work out how to show this!)