Negative Space Painting Watercolor Tips and Techniques

Negative space painting is a fairly simple concept, but not so easy to explain.  Instead of first painting the main subjects of a composition, the areas of interest, like a tree, house or person for instance, you paint in the areas, or space, around these objects.  The area or space around the main objects in a composition is known as “Negative Space”.  The main subjects, like the tree, house or person, are the positive spaces.

By painting in this negative space first, you reveal the intended positive space, without actually painting it.  There is no right or wrong way to paint here, it is just two different ways of achieving the same goal.  So don’t let the words positive and negative fool you into thinking that one is bad and one is good.

Like I said in the beginning, it is not that easy to explain.  This is why I have included a variety of lessons and examples below that I found online.  I have included videos, articles and step by step demonstrations that will hopefully make this concept a bit easier to understand and to put into practice in your own artwork.

I hope you find the following resources helpful.  Do you know of any resources on negative space painting with watercolor that I may have left out below?  If so, please be so kind as to recommend your resource within the comments section below.  Thanks!


Positive and Negative Space

‘Painting Topical Tip’ by Paul Taggart – Negative Painting in Watercolours

Part 1 of Negative Painting in Watercolor

Painting Figures by Frank Francese : Watercolor Painting

Part 2 of Negative Painting in Watercolor

Part 3 of Negative Painting in Watercolor

Painting negative shapes in watercolor

Painting Outside the Lines with Linda Kemp

Watercolor and Negative Space – Linda Kemp

Articles & Step by Step Demonstrations

Negative Painting with Watercolor

Negative Painting

Watercolor Painting of “Yellow Trees”

Children of the Sun – Shasta daisies watercolor demonstration

Painting Positive and Negative Flower Shapes

Negative painting and a 3D effect demonstration

How to Paint from Negative Space in Watercolor



Watercolor Painting Outside the Lines

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