How to see them and How to Use Them!
The ‘drawing negative shape method’ is a tool we use to help us gain accuracy in our drawings. It is only one tool among many, but I find it extremely useful when I am having trouble drawing. It does not produce a finished drawing, as such, and therefore the result is not as important as the doing. It is more about training our brain so we see differently and more accurately. Therefore, It is always difficult for me to judge your negative shape drawings as I don’t get to see you actually constructing the drawing.
If, while you drew, you mainly looked at the spaces between the leaf shapes and drew/shaded them, before the leaves, than that is correct. However, if you drew the leaves and then just moved around shading the in-between shapes than this is not gaining the benefits of this exercise.
I have pasted an image below as an example of how I go about a negative shape drawing. I started by printing the ivy leaf photo and drawing an outside border to enclose all the outside shapes. This gives you an edge to stop at and also makes the outside shapes smaller which is easier to see and draw.
You should then, focus on trying to see the spaces between the leaves rather than the leaves. Make a practice of squinting to look through half closed eyes so that you are not distracted by the positive shapes (leaves). This is rewiring the brain, as we are not conditioned to see the negative shapes naturally. It takes practice and this is what this exercise is about.
I began with a shape towards the inside, between two leaves and drew a very light outline and then shaded it. Than I looked back at the photo to check that it was the right shape. Sometimes I had to erase and adjust the shape. When it was pretty close I looked for a shape not too far away from that one and again drew a light line to identify the next shape. I again shaded and rechecked the position and shape with the photo, also making sure that the space between these two shapes was about right. After a while I started to see the leaves (white shapes), then I could also check their shapes to see where I might have been a little ‘out’ with my negative shapes and then I could adjust again. As long as you don’t get carried away and start drawing the leaves! Your drawing is expected to be a little ‘out’, but better that your leaves are a little ‘wonky’, and that you have started to train your brain and your hand to see and draw the in-between shapes.
By practising seeing and drawing the negative shapes, you will become better at identifying errors in your drawings. When I get stuck with a drawing and need to work out where I have gone wrong, I always switch to looking at the ‘negative shape’ beside it, which in turn helps me get the correct positive shape!.
Another really handy hint is to keep turning your drawing and the photo, so that you are viewing them from a different perspective. Especially when you are having trouble getting the shape correct, try turning the whole drawing and the photo upside down and try working this way for a while. Because your eye sees it
differently from a ‘fresh viewpoint’, errors will become more obvious and you can then correct your drawing. After a while, when your eyes adjust to seeing it this way, again turn it ‘right way up’. You’ll be amazed at how much this helps!
The left image here shows the negative shapes in gray and the second image along shows the portion of the photo that I worked from. I have edited the first image in Photoshop to show you what I am looking at when I begin the drawing!
The next image along shows the beginning of my demonstration drawing, and the last image shows the portion of the photo that I have sectioned off to concentrate on. The arrows show the corresponding negative shapes that I was looking at. Notice the leaves and the stems remain the white of the paper.
Seeing as an Artist
What is it that makes a painting stand out from the crowd. I believe it is the underlying structure (big shapes) that make a painting successful. The details and refinements that we are tempted to add at the end will not correct a badly designed or poorly structured painting. We can think of it also as the bones of our painting! We can always add but we cannot take away!
It is important to learn to see and draw as an Artist. That is learn to see the big value shapes and design our painting with these in mind. If the underlying structure is good, then our painting has a better chance of success.
All the fanciwork in the world cannot help a badly designed painting.
To improve your design, study books on the subject of composition and design. Continually practice your drawing and make small value studies before you commence your painting!
I am excited to tell you that “Transient Moments” has been selected as a finalist in the March 2013 issue of Australian Artist!
This painting was inspired by a holiday in Yorkshire, Northern England. It was partly from imagination. I wanted to evoke the feeling of the cool misty landscape and the brilliant ever changing skies.
I was very pleased with the simplicity of this work and it is one of my favourite paintings!
Are you new to drawing? Whether you wish to draw for relaxation, a new interest or, as a means to aid some other artistic pursuit, there is no doubt that drawing is a beneficial and satisfying activity! Every one of us has the ability to draw within; it is something that can be learned. This online drawing workshop will introduce you to basic drawing techniques to get you started straight away and build confidence with proven methods for learning to interpret what you see onto your paper.
I am teaching a new exciting on-line course in drawing starting on November 13th at Artists Network University. To read more about it … go to the below link!
I have just returned from the Bribie Island Arts Festival 2012! What a fantastic venue. The organising committee did a fantastic job and everyone was so friendly.
I tutored a lovely group of ladies who were a pleasure to work with. Over five days we explored texture and pattern in watercolour, the use of Gum Arabic, Gladwrap, torn paper stencils and salt. We produced 4 small watercolour landscapes in a semi abstract style, a stylised bird painting, a waterfall and rocks scene and finished off with lilies using negative painting technique.
I had the opportunity to visit the TATE Britain when I was in London last Christmas and saw some original Turner paintings! The Turner ‘room’ was very much a ‘hands on’ experience, with drawing equipment, videos, viewing tools, etc, for the visitors to use. I had always know that Turner used white pigment in many of his watercolours. It is interesting that so many artists question the use of white pigment, and some watercolour competitions even, don’t allow the use of white pigment in their exhibitions. It is certainly a talking point and a controversial topic for watercolourists.
My thoughts are that Turner achieved beautiful atmospheric quality in his work and didn’t allow the technical aspects of watercolour, to hinder the natural painting process and his artistic creativity.
I wonder where this thought about white paint has come from?
I’d like to let you know of an exciting new project of mine! I am painting portraits from photographs. This is an example of what I can do! From an ordinary photo your painting can be custom painted with your choice of colours and motifs. The one shown here is 15″ x 11″.
The introductory cost for this original custom painted watercolour portrait (unframed) on watercolour paper is just US$250. If you wish another size, please email me for a quote.
Enquiries – please http://www.watercolorpaintinglessonsonline.com/contact-us/
Getting Started in Watercolour
They often ask me,“where do I start, what do I need to buy”, “how do I know what is the best Watercolour brush size to use?
Watercolor Brushes – all about size!
Watercolour Paint Brushes come in a range of sizes. I will talk about the round style paint brushes first. They range in size from 000 to 40! I have never had a need for anything as small as a 000! My smallest round brush is a size 2. Most round brushes come to a good point anyway, so having a separate very tiny brush is not necessary.
Large brushes however are a necessity to producing fresh looking watercolours. The larger the brush, the fewer strokes you need to make and therefore less chance of getting a ‘worn out’ look to your painting! Watercolour paper when wet is susceptible to damage, so fewer brush strokes, means less damage.
Flat watercolour brushes are essential for pre-wetting paper. Flat watercolour brushes are measured by their size in inches, eg. ½ “, 1”, 2” etc. My largest flat brush is 2” in width and a joy to work with when wetting large sheets of paper. As you need to work as fast as you can before the paper dries, the larger flat brushes are ideal.
With all brushes remember it is not only the brush, but how you use it! When wetting paper with a flat brush to prepare for a soft edged effect (called wet-on-wet), be careful to hold the brush at an angle of about 40 degrees to the paper and almost let the handle of the brush rest on the palm of your hand. This way, the brush is gently skimming the paper without damaging the fibres.
A small ½” or ¼” flat brush is useful for ‘scrubbing’ out or ‘lifting’ lights. On dried watercolour, you can wet a small flat brush, gently stroke over an area and then blot with a tissue. This is most successful when the colour is not a staining colour.
Stay tuned to my next Watercolor ‘Article’ where I will discuss the hair types and different qualities of watercolour brushes.
You can Learn “How to Paint in Watercolour”
Landscapes and the human figure.
Stay tuned as I will be recording more lessons soon!
This is my latest watercolor! I took hundreds of photos on a recent visit to Hong Kong. I combined images, selecting the best parts from several photos. I sketched my composition and worked out the tonal values first. This meant a lot of rubbing out and shifting around, so I do this on tracing paper. I focused on simplifying the busy scene. When painting I tried to paint shapes just as a saw them, even if it was not clear what they were. I’m very happy with the result.
Cheers for now and happy painting!