Sunday, May 6, 2012

WATERCOLOR WORKSHOP: Negative Painting Trees

In this project, we'll be painting the negative shapes, instead of the trees themselves.  With each step, you'll see the trees emerge, further and further back in space.  This is a great way to get a feeling of depth in your landscapes.



The first step is to choose three colors (a triad).  I chose quinacridone gold, quinacridone rose, and cobalt turquoise, but you could use any yellow, red, and blue.  Do a wet-in-wet mingling of those three colors on your paper . . . 


When there is a wet sheen on your paper, sprinkle on some salt . . . 


After the paper is totally dry, brush off the salt . . . 


Now, do a simple drawing -- a foreground line, a tree with a few branches, and a line near the top of your paper, indicating leaves -- very stylized . . . 


Now, you're going to paint the negative shapes you've created.  For this, you will use the rose and the turquoise, but not the gold.  Replace the gold with burnt sienna or quinacridone burnt orange.  With these 3 colors, do wet-in-wet minglings within each negative shape -- and sprinkle this with salt. . . 


When this is totally dry, brush off the salt and draw -- another ground line, 2 trees with some branches,  and another leaf line.  Make sure the ground line is above the first ground line and the leaf line is below the first leaf line.  Also, make the tree trunks slightly narrower than the first tree. . . 


For these negative shapes, omit the rose, and just use the burnt sienna (burnt orange) and the turquoise (blue).  Once again, keep this painting very transparent; but, this time, do not use the salt. . . 


After this is dry, draw again -- another ground line, a few more trees, and another leaf line.  This time, omit the burnt sienna, and add a cool color to the turquoise.  I painted these negative shapes with the cobalt turquoise and "Undersea Green", but you could add a transparent blue to the turquoise, like a pthalo blue . . . 


After waiting for it to dry, draw a sloping ground line, a few more trees, and another leaf line. . . 


Now, paint the last of your negative shapes.  For this distant space, I omitted the turquoise, and just used the Undersea Green. . . 


And, voila'!  You have a forest!













22 comments:

  1. Wow. This looks very cool. (Sorry not to be more articulate but that's what comes to me--COOL!)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love your paintings! I'm attempting this project with the negative trees right now, but have gotten a bit stuck... how in the world did the "positive" shapes (in the photo after the pencil sketch) become whiter / brigher??? Are you using a special paper? (I just learned about gesso boards)???
    Thanks and keep up the great blog!!!
    Debbie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Debbie -- I think it's just the photograph, really. My initial wet-in-wet painting looks darker in that photograph that shows the first pencil sketch, than it really was. Those foreground trees do tend to look brighter, once you start painting the negative shapes around them, but it doesn't change THAT much. Sorry for the confusion -- it does look like I made them brighter on purpose. And, no special paper for this project -- just 140 lb. stretched Arches Cold Press.

      I haven't tried gesso board -- what is that? Is it similar to Aquabord (textured Clayboard)?

      Glad you're liking the blog -- and trying the projects!

      Delete
  3. Thanks Pat ... WHEW ... that sure removes my confusion... LOL!!! Photographing art has been my greatest challenge... getting the right lighting, and having it look on the computer screen as it does in person makes me crazy sometimes :-) In a good way :-) The great thing about art is that no one dies if you don't get it right LOL!!! (My master's degree was in counseling, so I'm more aware of this issue).

    I haven't used gesso board yet, but have created it by painting a wood board white and then adding a layer of gesso... it's used mostly for acrylics and oils, but it allows for a lot of brightness to come through the colors
    http://www.dickblick.com/products/ampersand-gessobords/#videos

    Also there's another kind of plastic canvas that can be used with watercolors, you just have to spray it with a fixative when you're done... I haven't experimented with it YET but have seen really bright paintings done on it. It's called YUPO.
    Here's a sample of a painting done on it:
    http://www.etsy.com/listing/39186930/heart-hearts-blue-abstract-painting-art?ref=v1_other_1

    and here's info about it:
    http://www.dickblick.com/products/yupo-watercolor-paper/?clickTracking=true

    Happy Painting Pat and thanks again :-)
    Debbie

    ReplyDelete
  4. Very well explained...
    Thanks from a beginner!
    Vivek

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad it was helpful -- thank you, Vivek. Keep on painting -- we were all beginners once!

      Delete
  5. this is such an amazing tutorial! I love negative painting so much and this really gave me a true understanding of it! Thank you so much! I can't wait to experiment and try making my own!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Fantastic explanation of a gorgeous technique. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This is the best explanation -- step by step -- of a technique that I just can't seem to wrap my head (and eyes) around. Thank you! I will try it today -- and look forward to more of your posts!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I am going to try this soon. I love it and it seems pretty easy. Thank you for the tutorial!

    ReplyDelete
  9. This is so inspiring....can't wait to try it...

    ReplyDelete
  10. Love learning this new technique and can't wait to try it. It's been a while since I've painted, but I'm excited to get started and t
    ry this - thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Wonderful! Day off tomorrow....I know what I'll be doing!! Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I stumbled across your wonderful blog and I was excited by your tutorial on negative painting and mesmerized with the colors you have chose

    ReplyDelete
  13. Will be having a go at this, love using salt but never on this scale

    ReplyDelete
  14. Wow - I know what I'll be doing this weekend!

    ReplyDelete
  15. You are certainly teaching me patience! I am excited to try this. I painted the rainbow/trees yesterday and was very pleased. So thrilled with your tutorials, I began step one of the negative and the misting immediately afterwards. I cannot seem to get the "lacy" strokes quite right. I chose fall colors instead of spring. Thank you so much Pat! BTW, I found you via Waterpainting Club on FB.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thanks to all of you for your lovely comments -- so pleased that this project has been received so well. It is a fun technique, and I'm glad you all enjoyed painting it. I guess it's OK to be negative sometimes.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Negative painting has always been a mystery to me. Your tutorial makes it so clear. Great explanation and a fun project which I am about to try. Just discovered your blog and am excited to try other projects. Thanks for sharing your expertise so generously.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope this project made negative painting less of a mystery -- I know what you mean! I will be preparing and posting more negative painting projects in the coming year, since I think it is such an important technique/concept for a watercolorist to learn. Thanks for your comments!

      Delete