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The Cutting Edge

Updated: Apr 13, 2021

I really want to talk about Non-fungible tokens (NFT’s), but instead I’m going to talk about edges. There are only so many things that we can control in painting: shape, color, value, contrast, composition, edges, details, and probably a few more. We use these things to lie, unabashedly, to create the illusion of reality.

When I first started painting, I thought edge control was about getting those clean sharp edges with paint. I’ve grown a lot as an artist. You paint for 20 years and one day you wake up and realize, you still don’t know anything. Edges, you see, are some of the things our brain uses to determine spatial relationships.

Hard edges occur at the ends of forms, at the contour, and on the overlap of forms, say like where flower petals overlap, and on objects that are closer to us. So in painting, if something is far away, no hard edges. Well that kinda sucks for those palette knife mountaintop edges in the Bob Ross shows, but I guess since they are end of forms, it’s okay.

But, if you have three objects going away from the viewer the closer one has the harder edges, and in still life, the line between the table top and the background is just a blur. That way the crispy edge of the flower pot looks closer, realer. At least that’s how the brain visual processing theory goes.

The blur is what we would call a lost line or lost edge. Where the contrast in value is reduced to the point where those features transition from one to another, indistinctly. The color change is, as I have discovered, not a function of smearing the paint around until they blend, but of mixing a transition of the two colors together and applying them on either side of the transition. These are referred to as gradients.

Just when I feel like all this is starting to make sense, to have a grasp of the illusion, intuitively, along comes artificial and virtual reality, and blockchain and NFT’s.

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