negative trees

My ongoing adventure with negative painting with watercolors has resulted in this interesting treescape (my new word). It was done in two sessions a week apart. The first step was to drop some color onto wet watercolor paper, in this case a combination of Winsor blue, lemon yellow, and dioxazine violet, my current favorite combination of colors. I didn’t have anything particular in mind, just dropped the color on in a random configuration. Typical for me, the color was fairly light and concentrated across the center of the paper, with most of the edges left white.

A week later, I drew in some tree trunks and branches and the contour of what might be the bottom of the leafy area of the trees. I worked hard to ignore the color on the paper. I didn’t draw the rocks or the horizon, just the tree shapes. Then I painted, first the whole area “behind” the tree trunks, up to the leaves, using a blue wash. Then I added the darker area that spans across the background, painting in the rock and grassy shapes at the same time. And that was it.

I very much like the ethereal quality of this piece, the ambiguity of the leafy parts… where does one tree end and another begin?… and the simple but slightly jagged quality of the rock shapes.

Just for kicks, I decided to do another one of these. I sorted through my assorted collection of unfinished work and found a darkish, reddish-bluish “pour” that I had done several weeks earlier and didn’t know what to do with. Usually I draw on these, but this one just didn’t seem to lend itself to pen and ink because the color was a bit dark and I thought the pen and ink would disappear, so I decided to try a little more negative painting, this time without any drawing first.

I mixed up some red using three different reds, and some blue using three different blues, and started in with the space between the trees, then added the rest of the darker details. I don’t like this one as much as the lighter one, and I think it could use a little cropping, but I do like the color combination and all that red.


About Renee Goularte

I have returned recently to art-making after twenty years of teaching in elementary school. An art in itself....
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4 Responses to negative trees

  1. I really love the negative tree painting. It has an unusual and bold composition. I also love the many colors and the multicolor effect. Beautiful and intriguing work.

  2. Thanks, Shelley! I rather like these myself, especially the blue one.

  3. Mary Ann Jordan says:


  4. beryl Smith says:

    I was intriqued by this method and was pleasantly surprised. I think I might give it a go!

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