Accentuate the Negative

Initial block in, no drawing with pencil is done, I go right to paint.

Initial block in, no drawing with pencil is done, I go right to paint.

Next, I begin blocking in my middle dark and darkest values--the opposite of the way most artists work with watercolor.

Next, I begin blocking in my middle dark and darkest values–the opposite of the way most artists work with watercolor.

Continuing to work from dark to light, I begin blocking in light middle and bright colors, always thinking in terms of values and being aware of the need to hold the whites of the paper.

Continuing to work from dark to light, I begin blocking in light middle and bright colors, always thinking in terms of values and being aware of the need to hold the whites of the paper.

The end result--a watercolor that has strong darks that create contrast and depth alongside pure color.

The end result–a watercolor that has strong darks that create contrast and depth alongside pure color.

My way of working in watercolor is quite different than most watercolorists. I don’t draw with pencil first and I prefer to start with my dark values. As an oil painter, it is the way that makes the most sense to me. My strengths are in drawing and color mixing. Sometimes, watercolor paintings done in the traditional manner of working from light to dark and building up layers and glazes, lack the depth and contrast that can be achieved by boldly placing color side by side. If color is going next to color, it stays cleaner and it doesn’t matter if you start with the darkest values first. I find that placing my darks early ensures that the painting has the depth it needs to look dimensional and to capture strong light. I focus on the negative shapes and am careful to retain the whites of the paper for my strongest highlights. It certainly is not the only way of working, but it is a viable alternative for those artists who wish to create a bolder, more graphic look in their work. I will be teaching this method of working in my upcoming course this fall at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey. It is called Watercolor: Pure & Simple and will emphasize the above concepts with a focus on drawing and color mixing. Whatever medium you choose, a good accurate drawing and clean colors will make your work shine!

 

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One Response to Accentuate the Negative

  1. Thanks a lot for these watercolors. On voit comment progresse le travail et on est ainsi bien plus capable d’apprécier la beauté de l’oeuvre

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