Negative Painting

"Rosebush", watercolor, 10x14

"Rosebush", watercolor, 10x14

This is a watercolor I recently completed using negative painting. I started with a very loose wash, my only plan being the placement of flowers. I had a photo for reference, but only used it as a guide. I worked intuitively in building up the leaves and stems in several layers. In working this way, I find that I am doing more looking and thinking than actual painting! I always try to leave some of the freshness and blending of colors in my initial wash come through in the final piece.

Snowy Field

I have been doing several demos lately using the wet-into-wet technique. I start by applying water liberally to the paper, front and back. The first layer soaks into the paper quickly and requires a second layer of water. Adding water to the back helps the paper adhere to the board during the painting process. I start with the pale washes, then add heavier washes as the paper starts to dry. When the paper is still damp, I add foreground texture with a dry brush technique. Nearly the entire painting was done this way except for the tree and branches in the foreground. These were added after the paper was completely dry. Only 3 colors were used — Raw Sienna, Alizarin crimson and Cerulean Blue. The combination of colors and technique help create the soft, muted palette of winter.

A Gallery View

This was the view one morning outside the window of the gallery where I teach in Hopewell. Everything was softened by a veil of falling snow. The last thing I did was spatter white paint with a toothbrush over the entire painting. Will the watercolor police come after me for using white? Some purists would frown at that. This is how I remember the day.

After the Blizzard

After the Blizzard 2, watercolor

For a recent class demo, I decided to revisit one of my favorite photos, this one going back to 2005, after Bucks County had been hit by a blizzard. It was a windy day, and the snow was blowing around the sheep barn at Washington Crossing Park. This watercolor was begun in class, and finished in the studio. I’m not necessarily looking for a blizzard right now, but it sure does provide some great inspiration for paintings!