Day 11: Negative Painting & ‘Seeing’ Primroses (Part 1)

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Primroses (watercolour)

Primroses (watercolour)


One of my favourite watercolour painters over the past couple of years has been Jean Haines, she has the most beautiful loose style and uses such fantastic colours. I love how she celebrates the accidents and mistakes that happen with watercolour, a philosophy which is especially appealing for beginners, and how with a few gentle brush strokes she manages to bring any subject to life.

I first became aware of Jean when she wrote a series of tutorials a few years ago for the SAA magazine, ‘Paint’, on her method of painting dogs. From there I’ve found other tutorials and now have her books and DVDs.

Currently on her blog she is describing a step by step process for painting primroses that became my practice for today, and will probably remain so for some time as it didn’t go as well as expected!

For some reason I find it incredibly difficult to ‘see’ things in a wash that aren’t there. With negative painting the idea is to pick out the shapes by defining the colours and shapes around them, i.e. after I’ve painted the foliage and surroundings that form the shapes on my initial yellow wash, the primroses should just appear.

Jean always suggests that we should ‘paint for the bin’ to release ourselves from the pressure of making masterpieces of every time – Well, today she would be proud of me because my bin is full! This was my final attempt at 7pm this evening and the best of the lot… maybe my right brain finally kicked in, maybe I was standing further back from the paper… I think I can actually see a couple of primroses in this one!