Thursday, February 11, 2016

Something Old and Something New

After an unusually warm winter, February brings with it some cold air and some snow.  The Midwest has these dreary grey skies that get old for me about now.  I admit I get a little stir crazy this time of year. Just give me some sun, please and thank you.
About this time every year the grocery store starts to sell my relief for the dreary days. Primrose in bright cheery colors that I purchase EVERY year!  I cant help myself, and at this point I figure it's cheaper than therapy!

I also paint them every year. So as you can imagine, I've painted them every way to Sunday. I wondered if I should not paint them this year.  I mean how many times can you paint the same subject and keep it fresh?

I've been trying to do some new things lately.  Experiment a bit.  So when Brenda Swenson's beautiful negative painting showed up on my facebook feed I thought I should try that. I'm not particularly fond of painting a whole painting that way, but I truly envy her work and skill at doing these types of work. Why not give it a try?

So off I went!  First I picked three primary colors (I painted the warm red flowers with Scarlet lake, but used Alizarin for the red in my painting) to work with and sketched the flowers.  This painting is only painted with these three colors.  Then laid down a light wash of all three colors in place I thought they would show up naturally.  All of which I forgot to photograph, but you can see the light wash in the first photo. Then I painted the flowers in the positive.  I thought this would be a good way to mix it up.
Next I added a wash behind the flowers and begin to negative paint 

Then I continued negatively painting the leaves.
this was fun, but tedious after a while! 

Here is a close up after the leaves began to come forward.

And finally I added my darkest darks.
For some reason these photos will not come through larger, so I'm sorry for the quality. This is not a method I would use too often.  I'm not good at it and it sort of bores me. I like to let the watercolor have more freedom to do its thing!  That's what is so exciting to me about watercolor and all this control is not my thing. I do however, greatly admire when it is done well, which this is not.  I did not leave any whites on my paper. The process I've always read about leaves light washes, but no whites. Brenda has full instructions and beautiful examples on her blog, if you are interested in the process.

So I tried something new. I'm not happy with it, but you have to keep doing new things to stay fresh.  I will revisit negative painting again, mostly because I want to master it!  But my frustration level was to high for such a happy subject!  So I thought I would share with you some of the older primrose I've painted.  They are not in order, and this isn't all of them!!  But I find most of these to be a better fit for me.  Which one is your favorite?  Enjoy!


  1. I think they are beautiful! I would like to learn how to do that. Will you be having classes again?

    Larry Dannemiller

    1. Sadly, not for a while yet. I'll be sure to keep you on the list when I start them up again! Thanks for reading!

  2. I couldn't pick a favorite for love, nor money. Like them all!

    1. Aw, thanks! I like them each for different reasons. That's what makes exploring the same subject a few times so interesting!

  3. Hi, Michelle. I like best the first one with all the pots in a row and the pink one, third from the bottom. I've tried negative painting and become frustrated with it too; although I agree with you, Brenda does it beautifully!

    Unrelated to this post...I want to thank you for sharing sketches and thoughts about eldercare. Every time I read one, I want to tell you how much they inspire me, but your posts are so profound and touch me so deeply that I can't find the words to adequately express myself, so I end up not commenting at all. Though our situations are different (my mom is in assisted living) and I'm still trying to process everything, your thoughts have helped me. Thank you for sharing them.

    1. I'm glad my posts have touched you and thank you for letting me know. I felt a need to share but was hesitant to do it so publicly. It seems to have struck a chord with many, so we are not alone. It is a difficult time as we deal with all that goes with aging and loss. The loss of many things (not just end of life) for those who were always there through our lives. I'll say a prayer that it will go well for you and your mother and that you will both find comfort. Feel free to email me if you need to bend someones ear! And thanks for reading!