About this blog

WELCOME! My name is Ann Mortimer and I'm a professional watercolour artist and tutor from Nottingham, UK.

This is a "learn how to" and "problem solving" blog covering WATERCOLOUR TECHNIQUES.

You can look for things that interest you in the blog archive on the side bar when various topics have built up over time!

I'll be covering thing such as colour mixing, negative painting, using masking fluid, laying washes, painting water and all sorts of other things.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Negative painting with daffodil leaves

This is a follow up of the negative painting post where I am helping you to SEE things negatively and positively. In the following step by step, I have concentrated less on the colour mixes etc. and more on the ways of seeing the subject.
So the best way to use this is to scroll up and down and compare the different stages including my reference photo and see the differences and how the stages have been achieved.
I'm concentrating on the leaves here...as this is where the negative painting is used most. (I'll deal with white flowers and those backlit shadows another time. Promise!)

So how on earth do you paint these flowers and leaves so they look as though they are naturally growing in a garden? How do you get that depth of field? Well its important to OBSERVE, look really carefully at the photo and see how it all works.
It's a mass of greens but there are different TONES of green there, some almost light yellow, some almost a bluey black.
When you are observing like this it's a good idea to half close your eyes and then you lose some of the colour information and see the tones, the light and dark in a more simplified way.
This also helps you see the scene as a series of SHAPES rather than flowers and leaves.
When I look at the photo with half closed eyes I see different sized rectangles and triangles of tone. Seeing these shapes and trying to copy them will help you with the negative painting technique

This is the drawing before any paint has been applied. Following the photo, many leaves have been portrayed as turned over towards the viewer. This is very characteristic of daffodil leaves and when they do this, the light falls on them in a distinct way.
Look really carefully at the photo to see what I mean. The tops of the leaves are light and the underneath areas are dark. Sometimes between the leaves you can see a distant very dark piece of soil or bark of a tree which is brown /black, sometimes you just see other leaves which are green but a darker tone of green, almost blue.

Well you've looked at the reality. Now you have to use the TECHNIQUES, the PLOYS to achieve the natural effect. This basically is a con, a series of tricks! We're painting on a flat piece of paper, but we have to make it look as though it's 3D.
A general yellow/green/blue wash has been applied over the leaf area, once again making sure that some of the yellow has been left on the forward facing leaves to denote sunlight.
This is an important part of the negative painting process as yellow makes the leaves come forward and the blues make things recede. You start to get the depth straight away if you do this.
You don't have to be precise about this, just drop your colours in the general area wet in wet and have faith! The watercolour will spread and end up giving you a natural look. The important thing is not to touch it with your brush. If you start scrubbing the whole effect will be lost. Drop in the colours and leave them be!

So after leaving the paint to dry completely, here I have started painting the spaces between the leaves with darker tones of green.
I have used variegated washes.
In other words I have dropped in some green and added some blue and then some yellow to make the effect more natural, but the general TONE is darker than the actual leaves. Use plenty of pigment and water with these washes in between the leaves. If you just paint the negative spaces with one dark, flat colour, the effect will not look natural. You are painting a space between the leaves and there is light in there and other leaves behind. There isn't a curtain behind the leaves, it's air and light!

Stage 4 and more detail has been added to the flowers heads. Very little has been added to the leaves at this stage.

Some more of the negative spaces, the spaces between the leaves have been filled in with a darker green wash. See how the yellow from the first wash at the beginning is still visible giving a sense of sunlight hitting the leaves.
The aim is to achieve a variety of tones in the background, but each getting darker than the leaves in front. If you look back again at the photo, you see that there are lots different tones in the depths between the leaves, not just one dark flat tone.

So here you have the finished effect. Look carefully at the leaf area.
The leaves look as though they are one in front of the other.
There are very deep dark areas where there is very little light and there are less dark areas between the leaves denoting other leaves and stalks behind.
The tops of some of the turned over leaves are catching the light and the underneath of these leaves have been darkened. This adds to the sense of depth.

I've also added some cast shadows after studying the reference photo very carefully.
The general effect is I hope convincing and natural looking.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Negative painting and a 3D effect demonstration

Here's a photo of a clematis growing in my garden. The leaves overlap each other and are casting shadows downwards. In this demo I'm trying to portray this effect.
I think this negative painting effect is born of working from photographs a lot. It aims for realism and has little to do with conceptual art or spontaneous expression and as such wont be everyone's cup of tea! I'm trying to capture a realistic sense of depth and 3D. So that, like in a photograph, you feel as if you are travelling into the painting.
Many people find this concept of painting back to front difficult to grasp. So if this is the case perhaps having a go at this demo stage by stage will make the difference.

First I made an outline drawing of leaves overlapping each other. These might be clematis leaves.

In this first stage of painting I laid a wet in wet wash. I had mixed up some yellow and some blue separately in my palette and also mixed a green by combining the yellow and blue. I wetted the whole of the paper and the dropped in yellows and greens wet in wet. I made sure the yellows went over the uppermost leaves and the darker greens went into the areas between the leaves. This started the 3D effect straight away as the yellows stand out and the greens recede. I ignored the pencil lines at this stage, just wanting to get a general effect to start with.
I let this dry completely. It 's important to allow each stage to dry completely...you can use a hair dryer!

Before painting here, you see I have drawn in some stalks in the middle depths as a guide for my painting. With a darker green (with more blue mixed in with the yellow) I painted AROUND just the uppermost leaves. Where one leaf overlaps another, I brought the darker paint underneath the top leaf to make it seem as though a shadow was being cast on the lower leaf. You can see I have painted over the underneath stalks and leaves at this stage. I let this dry completely.

Then with an even darker green I painted AROUND the underneath leaves which as a result were now standing out but were darker in tone than the very top leaves. At the same time I used this darker green mix to paint each side of the leaf stalks and tendrils that I had drawn in the middle depths, thus making another layer of depth. Once again I let this dry.

Finally I painted in some more veins on the leaves which introduces depth and form within the leaves. So the leaves themselves become 3D. I deepened the shadows cast by the overlapping leaves by going over with a fairly watery bluey green. And I was pleased with my 3D effect!

And finally here's this 3D technique used in one of my paintings. This shows a section of a clematis painting where I have used the negative painting method to portray the leaves.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Negative Painting...3D effect with simple leaves

I'm going to upload a simple demo to show how you can paint leaves and make them seem to be growing out towards you in a 3D effect. To do this we use a technique called NEGATIVE PAINTING.
Pity nobody can think of a better term, or a more positive sounding term! I've tried but haven't come up with anything yet! But it simply means that we are painting not the actual shapes but the spaces BETWEEN the shapes. By going darker in the negative spaces in between, we allow the positive shapes to jump out in a 3D effect. Magic!

Here's what you will end up with..I'll show you how next time. Give you time to do the drawing perhaps!

Welcome to Ann's Art Studio

Hi everyone!

This is a new blog to go alongside my annmortimerart blog. This new blog will be for sharing TECHNIQUES AND TIPS and general useful bits of information about WATERCOLOUR painting.

I will illustrate the techniques with still PHOTOS and when I've worked out a way of filming myself painting, I will put VIDEO CLIPS on too.

So look out for some useful info which might solve a problem that you can't work out or answer a question that has been bugging you for ages and stopping you painting.

I'm open to questions. I'll just ask you to keep the questions to the subject I'm dealing with at the time, otherwise we'll all get confused!

See you soon with some useful watercolour info...

If there's anything you would like me to cover, let me know. You can make a comment at the end of each post either by signing in with a google account or by making your comment anonymous (and then tell me who you are in the comment!)

Cheers for now!