Negative painting is by far my favorite way to approach watercolor. An object is defined by painting the negative space around it, making it appear lighter and adding depth to the overall design. In watercolor it is often what we don't paint, that becomes the most important element in our composition. Using negative painting is like being a stone carver, chipping away until only the most important lights remain.
Positive Tips for Negative Painting:
- Draw enough to get the general design on the watercolor paper. Keep your drawing uncluttered to allow for developing additional shapes as you paint
- Select two or three colors for your underpinning
- Wet the entire paper, apply juicy paint randomly over the surface and tilt the paper to help mix the colors
- When dry, start applying glazes around your main objects, softening edges as you move out into the background
- With each glaze, add new shapes with darker values
- Try not to get too dark, too fast