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 begin a negative painting with an under-painting of 3 colors. To determine which 3 colors I will use I make color swatches. The swatches will contain a red, blue, and yellow. The colors do not need to be true primaries. When I mix the colors it is important to have the 3 colors be the same level of wetness to encourage good mixing on the paper. I am looking for colors that mix well and create an underlying feeling of the subject colors. Cadmium and opaque colors do not work for negative painting. The 3 colors I selected are Quinacidone Gold, Cobalt Blue, and Rose Violet. Once the under-painting is complete I can add additional colors but I well use the 3 original colors through out the painting process.
Steps to Negative Painting:
1. Draw design. Be aware of the space and shapes between objects (negative space).
2. Wet paper with clean water and introduce the 3 paint 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.
4. With each glaze you’ll add new shapes and darker values. Completely dry between each glaze.
Pencil in new shapes between glazes if you are getting lost. Don’t get dark too fast, build up layers.