The first component skill The perception of edges

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Pure Contour Drawing has introduced you to the first component skill of drawing: the perception of edges. In drawing, the term edge has a special meaning, different from its ordinary definition as a border or outline.

In drawing, an edge is where two things come together. In the Pure Contour Drawing you just finished, for example, the edge you drew was the place (the wrinkle) where two parts of the flesh of your palm came together to form a single boundary for both parts. That shared boundary, in drawing, is described by a line that is called a contour line. In drawing, therefore, a line (a contour line or, more simply, a contour) is always the border of two things simultaneously—that is, a shared edge. The Vase/Faces exercise illustrates this concept. The line you drew was simultaneously the edge of the profile and the edge of the vase.

To sum up this concept: In drawing, an edge is always a shared boundary.

Fig. 6-1.

A good definition of "picture plane" from The Art Pack, Key Definitions/Key Styles, 1992.

"Picture plane: Often used— erroneously—to describe the physical surface of a painting, the picture plane is in fact a mental construct—like an imaginary plane of glass ... Alberti (the Italian Renaissance artist) called it a 'window' separating the viewer from the picture itself... "

John Elsum, in his 1704 book The

Art of Painting After the Italian Manner, gave instructions for making "a handy device":

"Take a Square Frame of Wood about one foot large, and on this make a little grate [grid] of Threads, so that crossing one another they may fall into perfect Squares about a Dozen at least, then place [it] between your Eye and the Object, and by this grate imitate upon your Table [drawing surface] the true Posture it keeps, and this will prevent you from running into Errors. The more Work is to be [fore] shortened the smaller are to be the Squares."

Quoted in A Miscellany of Artists' Wisdom, compiled by Diana Craig, Philadelphia: Running Press, 1993, P-79-

The child's jigsaw puzzle, Figure 6-2, illustrates this important point. The edge of the boat is shared with the water. The edge of the sail is shared with the sky and the water. Put another way, the water stop where the boat begins—a shared edge. The water and the sky stop where the sail begins—shared edges.

Note also that the outer edge of the puzzle — its frame or format, meaning the bounding edge of the composition—is also the outer edge of the sky-shape, the land-shapes, and the water-shape.

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