Negative painting is where more focus is placed on the space around and in between the object. Most paintings benefit from a variety of positive and negative painting. If you struggle to see negative shapes try working from a black & white photo. Here I have shown the reference photo in black & white and color.
I have experimented with masking fluids and tapes to save the whites of the paper but have found that nothing is as beautiful or effective as negative painting. Rarely do you come across an object that is pure white. Most objects are 3 dimensional and when something turns from a light source it will have a value and color shift in the form shadow. In the shadow you’ll see reflected color from nearby objects. Adding gentle hints of color into a white/light area gives it a glow, dimension and life! Without this your white objects will have a tendency to look cutout or flat.
Steps to Negative Painting:
1. Draw design. Be mindful of the space and shapes between objects (negative space).
2. Wet paper with clean water and introduce the 3 paint colors for underpainting. I made color swatches to determine which 3 colors. Tilt paper or use a spray bottle to help paint move and mingle. Don’t over work the surface with a paint brush but encourage the paint to mix on the paper. Let Dry.
3. Start glazing. Paint hard edges against subject and soften edges with water as you move out from subject. Don’t get dark too fast. Pencil in new shapes between glazes if you are getting lost.
If you are interested in learning more about negative painting please check my website for workshop listings.