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Watercolour : what is negative painting ?

Updated on May 1, 2009

All you ever wanted to know about negative painting !

Most painters work using the positive painting.

Discover how an alternative painting-process, named negative painting, can help you to improve your art works.

This lens explains what is negative space, what are the advantages of this technique, how to use it and combine it to positive painting (the most classical method).

Here are a lot of information and videos, written by myself or collected on the web, as well as reference to artist who master this technique and other useful links.

About ...

Negative painting (or negative space, or sculpted whites) means that rather than painting the object itself, the painter creates its shape by painting around it. Using this innovative method, artists can create striking and alluring works of art.

Here are a lot of articles, written by myself or collected on the web, as well as some useful links, about this technique.

I will soon add step-by-step demonstrations to help you to learn how to master this alternative approach, to focus on shapes and colours in order to give more dynamism and intensity to your watercolour paintings. So, please, keep in touch !

Any questions ? Do not hesitate to contact me.

1. Articles about negative painting written by myself

Each article is written in French or English. Please scroll up/down the page to find your own language.

2. Practical examples

Here is an overview of art works painted using the negative technique. Each painting-process is written in French or English. Please scroll up/down the page to find your own language.

3. Step-by-step demonstration - How to use negative space to paint flowers ?

I wish to share with you the work-in-progress of my latest watercolour, "Narcissus Jonquillas". Here, you will find the two first steps of my work.

1. I protect key whites with Schmincke's liquid frisket, then I saturate the front of the paper with water. I lay a foundation of soft tints, using a combination of Blockx watercolours : Lemon Yellow, Row Sienna and Cerulean Blue.

2. I establish the first layers of colour using the existing hues of the underpainting and Ultramarine Violet. I work from the foreground to the background and let each layer dry before applying the next glaze. I paint in negative all around the flowers and, as you see, the first shapes begin to appear.

To learn more about this work-in-progress, please visit my art blog at (category : The Watercolourist's Notes).

4. Video

Painting outside the lines with Linda Kemp

From ArtistsNetwork.TV : This extraordinary video is a fully-comprehensive guide to negative painting.

Negative painting is an alternative approach to traditional painting styles. Working in the negative isn't hard to master, it's a simple shift in the way you see! Whether you are a beginner or an accomplished artist wanting to learn something new, you'll enjoy trying Linda's negative painting techniques.

See the whole video at http://www.ArtistsNetwork.TV.

5. Reference books

Are you looking for a book about negative painting ?

I hope that my reviews will help you to make the good choice, for a good investment.

For each book, you will find an objective review as well as a summary of its contents.

Each review is written in French or English. Please scroll up/down the page to find your own language.

6. Great Stuff about negative painting on Amazon - Books, DVD's, ...

Watercolor Painting Outside the Lines
Watercolor Painting Outside the Lines

Beginning and advanced artists will benefit from the negative painting concepts presented in "Watercolor Painting Outside the Lines". Author Linda Kemp shares her techniques for using the strength of negative space to create alluring paintings. Exercises featuring landscapes, florals, and motifs from nature give readers the skills and knowledge necessary to make their next watercolour a strinking piece of art.

Painting Outside The Lines
Painting Outside The Lines

Discover Linda Kemp's technique on DVD.


Did you find this lens interesting ?

Are you looking for a specific information about negative space ?

I would like to have your feedback.

Reader Feedback

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    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Je suis fan de la peinture en négatif et en recherche permanente sur le sujet .. le plus difficile pour moi c'est le démarrage .. les premiers lavis à poser en laissant les lumières .. après la construction avance peu à peu .. c'est dur de ne pas gouacher .. il faut une bonne connaissance des pigments.. là j'ai encore des manques suis sûre qu'en explorant encore mieux les posts de ton site ,tu as du mettre des sujets la-dessus the remercie pour tout ce travail .. de synthèse ..

    • catherine de ryck profile imageAUTHOR

      catherine de ryck 

      9 years ago

      [in reply to EverythingMouse]

      Thank you very much EverythingMouse !

      You can see more of my works on this lens : .

      Disney's characters were the ones I loved to draw when I was a child !

    • catherine de ryck profile imageAUTHOR

      catherine de ryck 

      9 years ago

      [in reply to manila]

      Thank you Manila. I think that the more we paint, the more we are looking for useful tips and techniques in order to improve our works.

      I began to paint with watercolors in 2003 and, at first, I had no knowledge of pigments classification, how to put them on paper and when to create the best effects, ... I did a lot of experimentations, read numerous books and I am still looking for new techniques to test.

      I would like to see your watercolors !

    • AlisonMeacham profile image


      9 years ago

      Welcome to Squidoo. I look forward to seeing you create many more lenses showcasing your work and expertise.

    • manila lm profile image

      manila lm 

      9 years ago

      Excellent lens. Honestly I didn't know the difference between positive and negative painting until now. I am not too much into technical painting. Although I do enjoy painting occasionally with water colors. 5* for your lens.

    • ctavias0ffering1 profile image


      9 years ago

      Very good lens explaining an interesting and effective technique 5*

    • VBright profile image


      9 years ago

      Very interesting lens. 5*.


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