What is on the edge? In painting we put a lot of focus on the shapes and the content but a whole universe is happening on the edges! What is happening where shadow meets light? What is to be found where the sky kisses the horizon?


For me that’s the good stuff, the juice! There is a shimmering luminosity that I want to capture the happens on the edge of forms. I want to say something about it! Spend some time on the edge. Stare at it. You could get spiritual about the edges and say there are auras on them. You could also get all sciencey (is that a word) and talk about the physics of the physical world. Either way, there is something to glean from lingering on the edges.

All fun stuff to think about. But you might be asking, ok, how do I incorporate that into my paintings to improve them? Cause, that’s what I always want to do, improve my work.

Controlling edges is essential to describing the spatial relationship in a painting. We are usually talking about the relative hardness or softness of an edge. Is the edge sharp and crisp of soft and diffuse? A hard edge draws more attention and moves forward visually in the picture plane while a soft edge will recede. Think aerial perspective.

Edges are also descriptive of the elements or substance that we are painting. We would paint the edges of a tree trunk differently than we would the edges of clouds or the fur of a kitten.

In his amazing book Creative Illustration, Andrew Loomis wrote:

“Here is one of the best ways in the world to obtain brilliancy of color: Keep your color most intense on the edges of the lighted areas, where it merges into shadow”. Taking this to heart in ones painting can make a significant difference in the luminosity of your work.

With Warmest Regards,


Painting Minilessons
with Marla Baggetta

These “mini-lessons” grew out of my blog. I love sharing my experience behind the easel, so these are free. I write a new one every two or three weeks, so please feel free to share with artist friends.

​These lessons are mostly written text with graphics…short but useful tidbits from the foundations of painting that touch on subjects such as aerial perspective, simultaneous contrast or using negative spaces. I guide you through different aspects of painting and art that will get you comfortable with using pastels. You’ll gain confidence to attempt work that you might have otherwise been timid about.

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