Negative Painting: Sycamore Leaves

Now that I feel a bit more accomplished in some of my watercolor skills, I have taken the time to think about a few things.  Specifically, what to do next.  I think negative space, or negative painting, seems like the next best step.  I am not sure why – it just feels right.  That is how I painted my two moonlit sycamores.  Now it is time to paint their leaves.  Below is a photo I took the other day, which is my reference point.

I started out with three primary colors:  Cobalt Blue, Cadmium Yellow, and Permanent Rose.  First, I wet the paper and then made a few distinct areas for each color.  Then I tipped the paper around (it’s mounted on a board) so the colors would blend and bleed.  As it is probably only 90# paper, there was buckling and pooling, but decided to just let things happen.  After it dried, I drew in the shapes of the leaves, and then worked around the leaves and twigs with a wash of varying strengths that combined Cobalt Blue and Burnt Sienna.  The veins were a bit of Hookers, Sap, and Cobalt Green.  Altogether, there are multiple layers of washes / glazes – some successful, some not.  The final overlaying wash was a mixture of Carbazole Violet, Cobalt and Ultramarine Blues.

This painting has a lot of problems – too tight, too overdone – but the problems also present future solutions, which I hope to visit in the not-too-distant future.  I feel like it is moving toward mud, too, which is something I always have to watch out for.

 

Moonlight

My original “Moonlit Sycamore” is below.  I like it a lot – except for the squiggly black lines I put into it.  They ruined the painting for me.

So, a second attempt, this time on 12×15 paper rather than 9×12.  No squiggles in front of the main trunk.  Instead, this new version is much darker, and the squiggly lines don’t exist, but dark lines, to suggest other trees and branches, exist, but not across the main trunk.  Here is the new version below.

The scan doesn’t really do it justice – the burnt sienna is a bit less intense in the original.

Both painting were designed to work on negative painting.  This is not easy and I expect it takes a lot of practice to do it well.  Years ago, I did take a workshop and saw negative painting and masking fluid for the first time.  It was quite impressive and looked deceptively easy.  I am finding it is not – but it will improve with time!  Funny how a scan makes you see a painting so differently . . . flaws are more apparent, as are areas of success.