Negative painting in process

negative oleander demo 5In thinking about what to do for a lesson for today, I started explaining negative painting in a small demo and in a larger painting.

Negative painting is when you paint the space around an object to make the object appear.  An example would be if you wanted to show a house with trees behind it, you show the shape of a house by painting the tall trees normally shaped at the top, but the sides and bottom would end at the straight lines of the roof and house.

Another way to do it is to paint pale layers, draw a design of a leaf, for example, and that leaf is the closest one to you as it’s the lightest.  The next leaves that can go under the first, are darker because of the paint you’ve put on to form the first leaf. There are lots of videos and pages on this technique that is sometimes hard to get your head around, but I thought it might be fun for her to try.

So to explain how it works, here are pictures in order of what I’ve done so far on the demo:

negative oleander demo 1

After a quick drawing of a simple clump of white oleanders.



negative oleander demo 2

a pale wash of thalo blue and hansa yellow surrounding the clump of oleander blossoms.  I let it dry thoroughly,


negative oleander demo 4

I’ve added more washes of similar colors carefully going around some leaf shapes.

negative oleander demo 3

I’ve gone in with light purples (made with quinacridone rose and thalo blue) to separate the blossoms as a start

negative oleander demo 5

So here’s where it stands in the latest photo with additional washes on top, sometimes with quin rose in them, to define more leaves and put some behind the lighter ones on front.  The key to this is to let each layer dry completely before doing another, and to smooth out the edges of the latest wash so that it only makes a hard line to define the shape.  I do see a hard line I need to soften, and it needs more leaves and stems and darks and detail work on the flowers. Tomorrow I’ll post the larger oleander painting in process that I’m working on.

What I’m enjoying about teaching is that it gets me excited about a new project!  there are so many good things about teaching that I’m discovering as I go along, not least of which is enjoying her process and successes, and showing the process of figuring out what went wrong and what to do differently the next time.  Exciting!




Pick a daisy…

daisy lesson2

Daisy demo #2 for day 4

Another day, another daisy.  Today was the next lesson for my 12 yr old student when she brought in the daisy petals she finished during the week, and she completed the center, stem, leaves, and background in class,  She and her mom said I could post this photo of her with her finished painting.

F_first daisy

On her own, she came in with her take on “minnie mouse”…the face and bow were done when she arrived, and she finished the ears in class practicing the charging colors wet in wet and using a larger brush with a good point to make the shapes.  Isn’t it great?!  She loves blue and orange together, a girl after my own heart!

F_minnie mouse


New beginnings

daisy in yellows and greens

demo for early teaching watercolor lessons

I’ve been out of the blogging routine with a lot of new beginnings going on in real life, including expanding the flower garden, my husband putting in a new patio and an above ground hot tub, kids getting out of school and doing camps, my one daughter getting glasses, the list goes on and on!  It’s been hard to find the time to paint consistently with the summer “non”-schedule, but I’ve geared up for a new beginning with the first of July.  I’m going to be participating in World Watercolor Month begun last year by Charlie Shields at Doodlewash, so it’s 31 paintings in 31 days of July for me to share.  Starting today.  Whew!

I’ve also started teaching my first student!  a 12 yr old going into 7th grade.  We meet weekly for the summer, and it’s a good way to get back to basics and to reinforce skills (for me!) and for her.  They say that we learn from teaching, and from our students, and I’ve found that to be true and I’ve been really enjoying the classes!

Here’s my demo from the first lessons. My student loves what she calls the “tie dye” effect of watercolor, when wet pigments merge with other wet pigments.  She was so cute the other day when she had several really great wet in wet blends of pigment on three petals of the flower, the rest was white paper, and she said, “let’s stop now and frame it!”

I could relate to that sentiment because I fall in love with some parts as they happen, but then other parts don’t turn out to my satisfaction, and it can get discouraging. She’s found that out already, although she’s catching on quickly.  I reminded her and myself that we are “painting for the bin”.  It’s all practice and experiences, including new beginnings,  that help us grow.

If you are a painting teacher, do you have any words of wisdom or nuggets to share with me?  I’d love to hear them.  I hope you come along with me on this month’s journey into the World of Watercolor.


Teaching watercolors

I had my first experiencing teaching watercolors to my great niece over Thanksgiving.  She is as old as her fingers show, and she was really attentive and understood what I was trying to show her. It was REALLY fun and neat to see my kids painting along with their cousin.  I was approached by parents at a show wondering if I would do lessons for their middle schoolers, and I may consider that in the near future. They say when you teach something, you really learn it– and it is true!