Copyright Notice

© Copyright 2019, Brenda Swenson retains copyrights to all artwork. All images on this site are property of Brenda Swenson and may not be used in any way for commercial, financial or personal without prior written consent. All Rights Reserved for republication (printed and digital) and anything but personal viewing of artworks on this site.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Negative Painting with Watercolor: White Blossoms

There are many techniques to saving the “Whites” or Lights” of the paper. I have experimented with masking fluids and tapes but found the end result was either harsh or cutout looking. I like to preserve the “Whites” or Lights” of the paper from the very beginning by painting around them…Negative Painting.

Negative painting is one of the most exciting approaches to watercolor I know! The technique is a unique approach of painting around an object to define it in a composition. When working in watercolor we have the challenge that other mediums do not. It's what we don’t paint that becomes the most important element. Think of yourself as a stone carver, chipping away, until only the most precious lights remain.


*Drawing: Draw enough to get the general design on 140lb watercolor paper. Don’t over draw. Keep areas uncluttered to allow opportunities for additional shapes to be developed in the painting process.

*Select 3 Paint Colors for Underpainting

*Underpainting with 3 Colors: Wet entire paper with clean water. Charge juicy paint into the wet areas. Help paint mix by tilting the paper or with a spray bottle. Let thoroughly dry.

*Start glazing. Soften edges as you move out from subject matter. 

*With each glaze you’ll add new shapes and a darker value.  
*Pencil in new shapes between glazes if you are getting lost.

*Don’t get dark too fast.

I created a short video that shows the basic steps to making this painting happen. I hope this will help you see the process of negative painting. If you have a problem viewing the video click this link to view it on my YouTube Channel

The best way to learn the technique of Negative Painting is to see someone paint in person. Not everybody can attend workshops for numerous reasons (financial, physical limitations, family responsibilities…). If you like to attend one of my workshops please follow this link to see my Workshop Schedule.

Happy Painting!