Monthly Archives: July 2013

Painting in the Negative Space

Gary Jay
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Most paintings are done in the positive space, that is, you paint the shape of the subject. I recently read about creating entire paintings the opposite way, instead of painting the shape of your subject you paint the space around it or the negative space. You build up depth by increasing the tonal value around your subject. This is not a new technique, in fact I use this method when I paint leaves. Instead of painting the veins of a leaf I paint the shapes around it. I like this because it allows me to create finer lines than I could with a paint brush. So if this works for small things like leaves why not try it for a whole piece.

In my first trial I chose three colors (quinacridone rose, permanent magenta, and alizarin crimson). I wet my entire paper and applied a very light wash of the rose and let it dry. This layer was very extremely light, in fact it is hard to tell any paint stained the paper. Once this layer was dry I sketched a simple flower shape, setting it off-center of my paper. Using the same rose wash I painted around the petal shapes and let this layer dry. I drew more petal shapes making sure that some petals touched to create interesting shapes. I mixed up a stronger wash of the rose and painted around the second layer of petals. Once this layer was dry I drew in another layer of petals and painted around them with a mix of the rose and magenta. You can see the pattern forming – each time I add another layer of petals the paint becomes stronger in value. I added two more layers, one was a mix of magenta and alizarin crimson, and the final layer was alizrin crimson with just a touch of the magenta.

Gary Jay
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For my second piece I drew a simple leaf shape on scrap paper and cut it out to use as a stencil. I placed my stencil on the paper traced around it and then applied a barley tinted wash of viridian green, phthalo turquoise, and burnt umber to the entire paper. Once it was dry I added another set of leaves to the page and painted around the shapes with a slightly darker mix of my three colors with more green than the other two colors. I added three more layers of leaves and paint. On the final layer of paint I made the value darker and bluer by adding some indanthrene blue to make this last glaze recede further into the background.

There are a few things to keep in mind when trying this technique.

  • Make sure each layer of paint is thoroughly dry before adding the next layer. You want crisp edges next to your shapes, if the paper isn’t dry the layers can bleed into each other.
  • Pay attention to captured negatives (those little spaces that form when one shape crosses another), they are little jewels that really help with the illusion of depth.
  • Build up your painting gradually so that you get a nice progression from light to dark.

Until next time…think positively about negative painting!

Kelli

Gray Jay

Gray Jay
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Also called the Canada Jay this songbird is found among the evergreen and mixed evergreen-deciduous trees of the Northern US and Canada. Gray Jays can be identified by their dark gray coloring above and light gray coloring below. They have a white forehead and throat with dark-gray/black coloring at the back of the head forming a hood.

It is the gray coloring that prompted me to draw this lovely bird. If you look closely at the coloring you will notice that the gray is not uniform so I used a combination of cool, warm, and french gray to represent the feather patterns. The warm and french grays were primarily placed in the lighter areas while cool gray was added to the shadowed areas to create a more dimensional feel in the drawing.

Cheers!

Kelli

Zendala Dare #66

It has been awhile since I played with my colored micron pens so for this week’s Zendala Dare I used the rose, green and purple pens for the tangles and added shading with my Derwent watercolor pencils. Special thanks to Mariët, a regular participant to the Zendala Dare for this week’s beautiful template.

Zendala Dare #66

Happy Tangling!

Kelli

Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse
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Our first house had a lovely bay window that overlooked our tree-filled yard. Almost everyday you could watch nuthatches, chickadees, and tufted titmice flying from tree to tree. Since we moved to our current house spotting a tufted titmouse is a rarity. A couple of days ago was the first time in two years that I have seen one. I drew this little guy to commemorate the occasion. Listen to their song and find out more information about this backyard favorite.

Cheers!

Kelli

Zendala Dare #65

As soon as I saw this week’s Zendala Dare template I knew I was going to make the pieces on the outer edge butterflies. The challenging part was choosing what tangle to use in the shape the butterflies would rest on. Something leaf-like seemed a good choice but how to decorate them proved to be quite the task. I work out my designs in pencil first so I was able to try different patterns before inking. I know this is not the proper Zentangle® method but since this is my art I figure I can bend the rules. No matter what patterns I tried they always seemed to compete with the simplicity of the butterflies. That is when I realized I should embrace minimalism. Some simple lines in the leaves, a few circles on the egde, and a limited color palette tied everything together into a design I actually like.

Zendala Dare #65

Happy Tangling!

Kelli