A recent class
The object of this exercise in class was how to perceive and represent hard and soft edges, defined and undefined edges, or as the art world likes to describe it, lost and found.
I absolutely love the portrait below, ( not mine ) and as my learners hadn't done figure drawing for a while I thought I'd like to set a similar situation up in class, with a checkered background of dark against light, with a strong spotlight at the side to cast shadows into the dark clothes and hat, partly for compositional structure, but also to challenge my learners to see defined and undefined edges.
We practiced painting hard and soft edges first by painting a clear wash from from the center to the edge of the page, and placing various pigments near the dry edge to create some definition wet in wet, and by controlling the amount of water to pigment ratio on our brushes.
See test pieces for high and low definition within a wash with surface water consistency
in the test piece below right was to demonstrate how to get high definition by using less water, more pigment on a water consistent surface, after applying a low definition wash with a more water to pigment ratio.
The blotch top left of this piece was to demonstrate what happens when there is more water on your brush than there is on the paper, this usually happens by fiddling too much for too long as the wash is drying, and not checking the pigment to water ratio on the brush.
Below Right is a quick demonstration of hard and soft edge, within the context of this painting.
This type of wash, could be complete in itself, ( with a little more care than I have demonstrated here! )
Or as the first wash as an underpainting.