Friday, March 3, 2017

Hard and Soft Edges - Off the Wall Friday

Quilt I made in Joan Colvin's Class in 2002

I won't lie.  When I opened up my latest lesson in Katie P-M's online class and saw that we were going to explore Hard and Soft Edges, I literally G-R-O-A-N-ed. I mean, hard and soft edges again???  I explored them for the first time when I was taking Elizabeth Barton's masterclass and I didn't really understand them then.  I blundered my way through the lesson and although I wouldn't say it was a failure, I wouldn't say it was a win either.  Not to mention its really hard to achieve them using fabric which by its nature fabric is hard edge kind of thing.

BUT,  I put on my big girl pants and once again tackled the use of edges.

So what is hard and soft edges???  Well in the art sense, a hard edge is the term used when the edge of an object is made in a well defined or definite way. There's a strong sense of where the object ends. A soft edge is when it is made so that it disappears or fades into the background.

Easy right?  Well in painting it isn't so hard.  Here is an example I made where I thought the watercolorist used hard and soft edges effectively.

Why worry about it?  Using hard and soft edges can be very effective to create the mood in a piece like the one above.  Using the soft edges you definitely get the feeling of  WET!!  Also,  if you didn't use hard and soft edges, everything begins to look very graphic and 2-d.  Its bold and illustrative.  Too many hard edges can get a little loud and leaves out the mystery of art.    Too many soft edges make a piece feel all blurry and jumbled together.  That's fine if that's what you're going for.  But for me I like a little soft with my hard.

Now in fabric, its not so easy.  One can't just blend fabrics like one can blend paint! BUT  Once I started investigating and researching, there have been some really skilled fiber artists that have done it quite successfully.  One of which, is the late, great Joan Colvin.  I took a class with her back in 2002, where she taught me to blend my commercial and hand dyed fabric together to get a cohesive and natural look.

Her work is simply amazing.  If you look closely at her pieces, you can see how so many of her larger area are made up of many different types of fabric.  This creates the soft line and adds dimension and interest to her work.  Then she'll use hard line to move your eye around the piece and draw attention to the focal point.  All without you really noticing it - its all so quietly and masterfully done!  (by the way she did it all without fusible too!)

If you want to take a closer look at Joan's work and hear her talking about her process there is an excellent video of Alex Anderson's interview with her.  Watching it, I thought, I never really got to thank her for setting me on this art quilt path that I've explored for the last 15 yrs.

Because this is such a hard subject, I'm still working on my lesson's piece.  Its coming along nicely - but slowwwwwwwwwwwwwly!  Hopefully it will be done in time for Monday!!

So What Have Been Up to Creatively?


Christine Staver said...

I think EB called then lost and found edges!!! I can't wait to see your quilt.

Nina Marie said...

Yeah, she did! Actually - its called both. But I liked the terms hard and soft because, for me it was easier to picture that way. Really for me - Sharp and blurred would be more accurate since its something we've been doing now manipulating digital photos. How much easier it is using photoshop - though - LOL!!

Shannon said...

This is interesting! The concepts of hard and soft are not something I've ever thought about as a specific design concept but they are things I have struggled with more abstractly! Thanks for sharing with us- now maybe I can articulate better. And of course now I'm noticing these things in other places!

The Idaho Beauty said...

Thanks so much for the link to the interview with Joan Colvin. I so admire her work and have been lucky enough to see several of them in person. Also have her books. I was a loyal watcher of Simply Quilts but don't remember this episode so it was nice to see it and here Joan talk about her work and see a bit of her process. Such a loss to the quilting community. Good luck with your edges - one would think you'd have it down by now with these classes in it behind you. ;-) Practice makes perfect you know - lol!

Vera Holmgren said...

Thank you, you really explained it well! Very interesting.

Andree G. Faubert said...

Hi Nina Marie, thanks for sharing - there's so much to learn! I can see where making subtle colour shifts would make a soft edge. Now to remember this when it's needed!

AlidaP said...

Thanks for the inspiring post! Great lessons to think about when I compose my fabric pieces!!

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