Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Negative Painting Demonstration

This demonstration was done with 5 colors: Scarlet Lake, Manganese Blue, New Gamboge, Marine Blue and Burnt Sienna.

Step #1 I use the wet-into-wet technique to underpaint. I use 3 colors in the under painting: red (Scarlet Lake), blue (Manganese Blue Hue) and a yellow (New Gamboge).
I wet the entire paper and add the colors separately allowing, them to mix on the paper.

Step #2 Once the underpainting is thoroughly dried I add my first glaze. I am using the original 3 colors plus a little touch of Marine Blue. I begin at the edge of the flowers and pull the color out towards the outer edge of the paper, diluting with water as I go. I continue to glaze all around the flowers. This is the negative space!

Step # 3 Let thoroughly dry. I now glaze across portions of the white flowers. I focus on the lower section of petals where they would be turning from the light. This glaze also covers portions of the background. I vaguely suggest the center of each flower with New Gamboge and Scarlet Lake.

Step #4 Let thoroughly dry. In the final stage the glaze is the darkest value. I glaze with a rich green made with Marine Blue and Burnt sienna. I once again begin at the edge of the flowers and pull the color out towards the outer edge of the paper, diluting with water as I go. I add a small amount of Scarlet Lake to the green mixture to liven it up, while it is still damp. I want some of the original glazes to show so I don’t cover the entire area with a glaze. I am selective to place my darks against the areas where I want the eye to look. I add small negative shapes near the center of the flowers. I also add negative shapes to suggest additional stems and leaves. The final results are flowers that appear white with reflective colors shown on them.

Tip: Don’t get dark too fast instead build up color and values with multiple glazes.

Happy Painting!


  1. As always, Brenda, you make it look so elegantly easy. It is a pleasure to see. I watched the DVD slide show Patty Wayte made of the Tuscany trip last night with your demo there of negative painting. What a flood of memories--all fabulous. Thank you again!
    Sue Malone

  2. Beautiful..and such a clear explanation. Visiting your blog inspires me to drop my oil brushes and grab my watercolors! I love both, and your work always illustrates the unique beauty of watercolor. Inspiring! Thanks, Brenda.

  3. I'm going to try this with my morning cup of tea. 🍃

  4. what do you mean, you add a glaze? what do you mean by glaze?

    1. Read this to learn common terms and definitions related to watercolor. http://www.artistsnetwork.com/articles/art-materials-tools/watercolor-glossary-of-terms