Tag: negative painting

Echinacea

I think this is the first original flower study I am happy with. The reason is that it has the looseness of style I have been trying to get, a brightness of color, and decent contrast.

I began by wetting my paper on both sides after drawing in the basic flower shapes, some stems, and leaves. All of the pencil lines are simply guides, but it did help. From there, I did the flowers with a wet wash, more water than pigment, to suggest the basic flower petals. From there, leaves in a light yellow green with the plan to paint darker colors over petals and leaves. Once I had those general shapes in, I placed the flower center in, allowing it to bleed into the leaves and petals as it would. Then I dried it with the hair dryer.

More washes came along using more pigment and less water, but still wet. I tried to suggest leaves and shapes, painting around the flower to create indents where the petals fell over the leaves in an attempt to create some depth. Again the hair dryer, probably multiple times. Finally details with a fairly dry brush, thicker pigment slightly dampened with water. This was done for some of the stems, the flower centers, and a bit here and there.

I am using my new palette, but I don’t think I really like the alizarin crimson that much. It is the “permanent” variety and seems rather dull to my eye. I tried to liven it up with other colors, like some blue and red and orange in different areas, but it is not as vibrant a red violet I would like. I will need to do a bit of research here.

So, at last, a sense of being able to paint flowers in a manner pleasing to my sense of what a floral watercolor should look like.

9×12 CP Arches, 140 lb.

In the Canyon

Another rendering of another artist’s work! This is from a (what else?) YouTube video by Roland Lee, an American watercolorist who paints the national parks of Bryce and Zion with a beautiful and delicate touch.

The subject here, of course, is landscape, but here are more subtle renderings of nature – here, more trees – using negative painting. I added a few of my own touches, of course, but the point of the lesson was observed and learned to a degree. Not easy to do, not easy to follow, but I rather like the results. More practice to come, too.

Learning from a paint-along is rather fun, at times daunting. I used to think of my paintings all as “failures” because I never replicated the teacher’s work. Of course, that is silly, but until I could let it go, as well as become more adept at watercolors and skilled in their handling, my own paintings would be disappointments. Now I am getting comfortable with my own style, if there is one, as well as how I handle everything. Skills are building.

Done on Arches CP 140#, 9×12.

And here is the video to enjoy – Roland Lee is a good presenter – clear instructions and a deft hand. I know I will be looking at more of his over time.

The Forest for the Trees

Another adventure in negative painting. As I have mentioned earlier, trees are a very good way to practice negative painting.

Here, I painted around the white trunks, and then more tinted trunks. I couldn’t find myself getting rigidly graphic with this, and just did a splish-splash approach. I also think I did a fairly decent job of moving from a dark, shady forest floor to a more sunlit canopy.

In the end, I used some white gouache, too, and rather like the vibrational energy of it all.

Negative Painting

Negative painting is painting around a shape. Positive painting is painting an actual shape. The first is hard to do. The second less so, but the skill of negative painting is necessary and can produce some pretty dramatic results. It is also a skill if you don’t want to use liquid frisket to block off areas to keep white. Positive painting sounds easy, but it ain’t. (My flower paintings are evidence of this!)

A common exercise to show the learner how to do negative space is to paint a tree, paint around it in a light wash, draw another tree on the colored wash, and then paint around this, until you have a lot of trees ranging from white to the varying values of the wash. Sterling Edwards has a lengthy but very good video about this method:

While I know about negative painting, and have stated it as one of my goals, along with flowers (which benefit from the skill of negative painting), I thought this was a good one of the many I watched. What I liked was how he blends his paint inward.

Anyway, I did trees. Rick Surowicz is also a master at negative painting, and if you look at Edwards’ paintings, and those of Surowwicz, you will see both apply the same techniques. In my painting, I used Arches 140# CP, 9×12. I outlined the tree, and then painted around it. At some point I was frustrated and decided to do some painting with white gouache, on both the primary tree and then adding others.

Overall, I rather like the effect, particularly after adding the gouache. I think it enhanced the painting rather than making it just another annoying experience! I used to be quite rigid about not using gouache, much less gel pens or diluted acrylics in my watercolors, but rules exist to be broken, and I expect purists would call this “mixed media” – but that no longer bothers me as much as it used to. Watercolors they are (water soluble), so watercolors these remain.

Flower Flop

For the next several weeks I have decided to focus on watercolors, except for the remaining few sessions of my oil / acrylic class. The reason for this is we will be out and about, traveling across country by car, and watercolor is the most transportable art medium I can bring with me.

Two areas in watercolor are foremost in my mind at present. One is negative painting. The other is flowers.

Like anything, you need to practice. Here, an attempt at negative painting, and painting flowers. While not creating mud, I definitely need to simplify what I am doing and figure out how to do it. Supposedly these are alstroemeria, but not sure it anyone would think that is what they are!

I’ll just make the statement a few areas of negative painting worked and leave it at that!

Improving My Social Life?

I never paint people in any form. Draw them, yes. Now it is time to add them to paintings so that I can pretend to have a social life!

Watercolor is the first area to which I am adding them. The reason is that watercolor in many ways is very forgiving. As well, there are a lot of photos with people in them in Andy Evansen’s class, so I figured I better stop being intimidated.

And you know what? After watching a lot of videos, and hearing that the general shape of people in a crowd is that of an elongated carrot (supposedly said by Frank Clarke), I had a laugh, and then it began to be fun, not a horror story I had to live.

Before beginning though, I felt it was important to get an idea of where things belong. Yes, I do know the general proportions of the human body – 7.5 to 8 heads tall, depending on your source. But where do elbows go? What level is the wrist? And so on. A bit of research and then the fun began.

Different ways to portray people, too. Blobs of color with some suggestions added, such as darker color to separate figures. Negative painting to show off highlights, back lighting, or light-colored fabric.

And so, people are showing up in my watercolor life. It was a lot easier than I expected it to be. Proportional formulae help and just playing around, letting go, and practicing.

About time!

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.