Negative Painting

For the past few weeks my ‘Fast & Loose’ classes with Cynthia Armstrong have focused on the technique of negative painting – one of the ways to create light and color in a watercolor sketch. There are 2 important concepts to have an understanding of to accomplish negative painting.

  • Wet into Wet: Painting on a wet surface and letting colors blend.
  • Glazing: A transparent wash of color laid over a dry, previously painted area.

Since this practice of negative painting is new to me I followed all the rules to get started.

…only draw enough to get the general shapes down, with the understanding that additional shapes will develop in the process … for wet on wet, color choices should be limited to 3 that mix well … encouraging mixing and paint runs.

… tilt the page, use a straw to blow the paint, splatter the paint, flow in some ink …

When dry, the same original colors are used to glaze around the hard edges that have formed. For example if you want to create leaves you will work around suggested forms with layers of glaze. The look here suggests leaves and natural forms. My practice pages with roses below show my results.

Later I added some hand-lettering to make the page more balanced and interesting.

With an understanding of the negative painting process looking at a watercolor becomes more interesting for sure.

When working in watercolor we have the challenge that the other mediums do not. It’s what we don’t paint that becomes the most important element.

Brenda Swenson a masterful negative painting watercolor artist

The following ‘Coy’ practice pages and details show my taking the negative painting into a next level with more glazing and a defined white shape of the coy. Lily pads are in more layers of color for depth. Darkest darks are next to lights to create a focus area.

Finding ways to focus on color.

One response to “Negative Painting”

  1. Mary Stapleton Avatar
    Mary Stapleton

    Everything you do is beautiful and very interesting and informative! Thanks for sharing Mary! OSM

    Sent from my iPhone


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