Flower Pot (from a Rick Surowicz Video)

Lacking in the lovely simplicity of Rick Surowicz’s painting “Flower Pot” from his YouTube video of the same name, this is my attempt to work with negative space in painting. He is a master – I am not.

Flowers are ridiculously difficult to paint because of their bright colors and unique shapes, not to say their varying leaves as well. And, it is truly difficult to convey a bouquet suggestively. I overwork flowers all the time. Follow below to see Rick at work.

Negative Painting Practice

Negative painting is easy in concept – paint dark paint around a lighter object – but hard (for me at least) to put into practice.  You can see what I mean above – the light trunks are depicted by darker colors painted on either side of them.

The one above is the simplest, and nicest.  In the upper flowers, I found myself shaping the orange of the Peruvian Lily into the yellow above it to create the shape of the flower.  The same with the darker colors against lighter ones.

Below, a gallery of what I did the other morning – most are rubbish, but the concept is what I was working on, not producing a beautiful painting for all to enjoy!

Painting requires practice, as does anything you wish to master.  It can be rewarding and frustrating as hell.  The key is to be aware that progress is made with each step, even if you don’t see it or feel it.  It oozes into your brain and muscle memory.

Ooze, ooze, ooze.

 

Tulips in a Glass Vase

Flower paintings are some of my favorite things, just because I like flowers.  Painting them is another story.  Tulips are such cheerful, seasonal flowers, appearing in the market for a short time; I always have to buy a bunch or two or three.

Determined to paint a vase and water with stems, to really look at them, I put the tulips in a rather coarse, rectangular glass vase.  The edges of the vase are wavy, and it is far from perfect, which gives it a rather pleasant charm.  It seems I rather avoided the stems – my picture got too big!  I’ll give it another try later.

Parts of this painting work, but overall it feels rather labored in appearance.  I’m not quite sure why – maybe too many glazes took away a sense of spontaneity as well as clumsy negative painting.

A Loch

Up front, I use Pixabay frequently for their fine, royalty-free photos, whether as inspiration, or as an image to be painted.  Here, I used an image of a loch (found under the search term “loch” – how clever!).  I loved the vantage point and tried to catch it.

Here, the sense of being up above the rest of the world, in a field of flowers, on a beautiful day, is so well done in this photo, I just had to be there myself.  Scotland is one of those countries that is mystical and magical, and views like this only touch the tip of its beauty.

The daisies were especially challenging – so bright and white!  Negative painting and thin washes hopefully express them fairly well.  The DOF was another challenge, and it is a natural tendency to not leave well enough alone . . .

Path

This morning I thought I would do another “one morning wonder” (like, I wonder why I did it, why!  it looks wonderful!), but as I laid down the first washes I realized that I needed to paint the foliage with negative painting.  Bingo!  The lesson of the other day came to the forefront of my brain.  Let’s see how it progresses.  Here is the first scan.

Rosemary & Peppers

Today I experienced a breakthrough in my painting.  I intellectually understand negative painting, but today I physically understood negative painting.  I just some how “got it” and this painting began to shift in its creation.  Our bodies and our minds are so connected, but in this world of a separation of physical health from mental health, the connection is oftentimes lost.  Personally, I do have a bit of problem connecting the right brain and the left brain from a long ago head injury, so when that connection occurs, it is really a very physical awareness.  I’ve had that when studying math.  Today I had it while studying lights and darks.

Leaf Flight, ii

Much more pleased with the second rendering of this painting, based on Rick Surowicz’s video.  The black branches don’t work, but the negative space does.  This time, rather than using painter’s tape, I used Pebeo masking fluid for white areas, and then later to create branches on already-painted areas.

Meanwhile, the counters on the vanities are in – but it may be the plumber will be in later.

Leaf Flight

I started a weekly Friday afternoon watercolor class yesterday.  The assignment was based on a negative painting by Rick Surowicz, who does amazing work.  You can find him on YouTube and on Facebook.  This is the video from which this painting is a derivative.

A few things . . . first, I didn’t have any frisket / masking fluid in class.  I had barely anything!  All my stuff – most of my stuff – is still packed up from the house repairs.  I ransacked a bit and found some things.  Like tape – so I used tape to mask off some areas inside the painting.  Second, I used student-grade paper, and some of the paper’s surface came off when I removed the tape.  I think you can see the areas if you look closely.

The way I see it, the whole point of this exercise is to work on negative painting.  Exact replication of Surowicz’s painting is not the point – the point is to learn from it.  I struggle with negative painting, but learning to just let go of things when I paint and let things happen, while hard, is something I am finally beginning to do.  To quote the Beatles, “let it be, let it be”!

The painting was, to a point, successful.  I did some negative painting.  I wanted to work with complementary colors and washes, but try to control a bit, such as the leaf shapes, here and there.

Now that it is done, the real question is which end is up?  Click on the first image to move through all four versions.

I think I like this one the best (fourth in the series).  It’s below.  Maybe it expresses the wind and whirling leaves and branches and twigs.

 

Lilies

Well – let’s just say that the lilies suck.  The masking fluid tore up the surface of the paper, which is student grade to begin with, and the soap suds from straight dishwashing soap seemed to have remove the sizing – or a lot of it – from the paper.  The paper itself is good for studies with less water, and I enjoy using it for play and experimentation.

The lilies are out of proportion.  Rather a disappointing experience, to say the least.

Still, I am inclined to want to think about this painting.  In reality, this style of painting is better suited, in my opinion, to a graphic presentation.  It’s not “painterly” in the way I want to do watercolors.  If nothing else, that is my take-away from this experience.

Besides being too graphic for my taste in watercolor, the masking fluid was a disaster.  Straight dishwashing soap does not work on the paper, even though my brush didn’t suffer in the least.  I’ve used a diluted soap solution with better results.  I also would prefer to not use masking, simply because I want to keep the process as clean as possible, with few if any extras in the way of the process.

In the end, I think learning what you don’t like is fundamental to many things, whether it’s a job or a way of painting.  This helps to focus your thoughts on your goals because you rid yourself of an unwanted item.  I still plan to focus on negative painting, but want to find a different way to approach it.