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Old 09-03-2007, 05:26 PM
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Painting negative spaces - a Demo

Hello again:

In our part of Canada, Labour Day (September 3rd this year), represents the end of summer and the return to whatever constitutes normal for most families. As I'm retired I don't have to go back to "work", but it does mean the start of the serious painting months ahead. In preparation for a couple of workshops I'll be leading in October, I've been experimenting with a Fall version of "Painting Negative Spaces", and it occurred to me some beginners out there might find this little exercise useful. This sort of thing has been done many times I'm sure, but Wet Canvas! is a great learning tool - so here goes. The original green leaf version of this is at http://watercoloursforfun.com/Negati...%20Spaces.html

My paper size was 10 1/2" x 7", 300lb Arches cold pressed. Using a wet-in-wet technique I covered the paper with a basic wash of orange with a few dashes of darker tones to make the background more interesting. I hasten to add this is not a study of leaves as such, but a leaf shape. To do a proper leaf painting would require too much detail and time for a three-hour workshop. You may adapt this technique any way you wish of course, using oak, maple or even holly leaves for a Christmas motif.



Now draw in several slender branches with leaves attached as shown. Use a soft pencil to get a good image and to allow for easy erasing later. I've shown a simplified way of shaping these leaves. Draw the spine in first and add leaves to taste. The shape is up to you.



Now use the next darker tone of your basic orange wash and paint around the leaves. Cover the whole sheet with this wash.





Having fun? Next draw in other clusters of leaves to appear behind the first bunch. This is your first new layer. Mix up the next tonal value and cover the whole sheet except for the leaves you drew in. Also leave in the first bunch of leaves.



Erase all the pencil lines and now draw in another layer of leaves and repeat the process. The more layers you use the more complex the painting becomes and you may not want to devote time and energy to exact details, and if you vary the types of leaves it can be quite tiresome. You see what I mean? You aren't painting the leaves, you are painting between the leaves to make them appear in layers. The illusion becomes more real as you progress with each layer.



If you wish you can make your subsequent layers cross from the other direction, but be aware that this becomes more complex by the layer!



Here's a tip: if you start getting cross-eyed and confused by all the layers turn your board upside down. You'll get a different perspective on what you're doing.



The final layers are in and the illusion complete. This is a technique you can adapt to many watercolour paintings, and much of the time this sort of thing will be in the background and not the centre of interest as we've made this. You could spatter this with other Fall colours or put more detail in the front leaves - it's up to you really. This simple exercise may prove useful in many ways.



I hope this will help with future paintings.

John
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Old 09-03-2007, 07:19 PM
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Re: Painting negative spaces - a Demo

Thank you so much for this demo, John!! I'll add this to our Handbook, also!

I understand that you've been asked to teach some workshops at Georgina... you'll do a terrific job!
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Old 09-03-2007, 07:28 PM
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Re: Painting negative spaces - a Demo

Hi John,
Many thanks for the wonderful demo and for sharing your talent with us all.
I am still just beginning my journey with watercolours and have so much to learn.This demo is perfect! I want to learn everything, try everything

I think I will put my paintings away for a while and work on this demo as I am getting disheartened with "complete" paintings that do not match my expectations
Many thanks again.

Cheers
Terry
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Old 09-03-2007, 07:52 PM
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Re: Painting negative spaces - a Demo

Quote:
Originally Posted by CharM
Thank you so much for this demo, John!! I'll add this to our Handbook, also!

I understand that you've been asked to teach some workshops at Georgina... you'll do a terrific job!

Thanks for that vote of confidence! I still have the happy memories of our Three-Peat Ontario meet last June.

John
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Old 09-03-2007, 08:36 PM
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Re: Painting negative spaces - a Demo

What a beautiful finish! And you clarified this process so well...I think I finally get it~

Thanks, so much for posting.
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Old 09-03-2007, 09:30 PM
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Re: Painting negative spaces - a Demo

Super Demo John!
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Old 09-04-2007, 12:36 AM
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Re: Painting negative spaces - a Demo

Thank you for the wonderful demo, John -- I can't wait to give it a try!

Susan
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Old 09-04-2007, 03:12 AM
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Re: Painting negative spaces - a Demo

A super demonstration John, thanks!

Doug
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Old 09-04-2007, 06:32 AM
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Re: Painting negative spaces - a Demo

Well done, John. It is so much easier to understand the concept of negative spaces when you see it illustrated like this.

Sylvia
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Old 09-04-2007, 09:47 AM
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Re: Painting negative spaces - a Demo

Quote:
Originally Posted by EwetopiaNZ
Hi John,
Many thanks for the wonderful demo and for sharing your talent with us all.
I am still just beginning my journey with watercolours and have so much to learn.This demo is perfect! I want to learn everything, try everything

I think I will put my paintings away for a while and work on this demo as I am getting disheartened with "complete" paintings that do not match my expectations
Many thanks again.

Cheers
Terry

Terry:

Thank you. I'm so glad my demo caught your fancy, and I think I speak for many of us out here when I say I amlost envy you as you start on the long road to learning the art of painting in watercolours. I still remember the thrill of discovering watercolours again when I retired and found my mentor while staying in Florida one winter. Yes, we all get frustrated, irritated and sometimes downright depressed when some of our projects go off the rails, but when even one goes right it's similar to a light going on in your head.

Above all don't give up if you hit a bad spell. I used to "put away" any painting that went stray and revert to my early days and techniques. My favourite was a wood grain study I started out with. I would take a deep breath and go back into my past learning mode. It usually worked for me. These days I have enough exerience to know my bad patches will pass, and I can always tune into Wet Canvas! for inspiration.

Keep going Terry. Takes classes and workshops, buy books which seem to match your mood, and try to set aside a regular time period when you can shut out the outside world and just paint. Good luck. We're all rooting for you!

John


www.watercolousforfun.com
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Old 09-04-2007, 11:36 AM
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Re: Painting negative spaces - a Demo

Mary: It's great you are "getting it" and you're thanks are much appreciated.

JJ: Glad you looked in.

Doug: Thanks.

Sylvia: Let's hope my workshop participants agree with you!

Susan: I hope it works out for you too

John


www.watercoloursforfun.com
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Old 09-04-2007, 01:22 PM
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Re: Painting negative spaces - a Demo

Well done John is right
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Old 09-04-2007, 05:42 PM
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Re: Painting negative spaces - a Demo

Hi John and all,
First of all many thanks for all the encouragement John. I am enjoying the "journey" and my only regret is that I started out so late. I have never painted anything in my life until July this year. All my "efforts" have been put up here on WetCanvas so that I could get help from all the wonderful artists here. It has been a thrilling ride!
Here is my attempt at your demo...I am not too happy with it but it has taught me a lot and I think I can see what I need to improve on, so it was not a wasted effort!
Many thanks again for everything. I have rated this thread and given you my mentor point thingumebob



Cheers
Terry

Last edited by EwetopiaNZ : 09-04-2007 at 05:46 PM.
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Old 09-04-2007, 07:56 PM
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Re: Painting negative spaces - a Demo

Terry:

Fantastic!! Your effort is just great. I love the way you've introduced another colour on the left-hand side, and your choice of leaves is right on. I'm pleased to have been part of your project. Well done!

John


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Old 09-04-2007, 11:13 PM
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Re: Painting negative spaces - a Demo

John,

Bookmarking this one - great . Thanks for the tips.

Mark
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