Artwork-QoR watercolor on Hahnemühle Anniversary watercolor paper. Brushes: Neptune Travel round size 10. Doodlewash prompt: Buildings. Photo reference courtesy of gburgesskc on Pixabay.
I’ve been sharing some quick studies that I’ve done using underpaintings and negative painting techniques. I’ve been dealing with laptop problems, so you may not have seen all of these. You can find them at:
- Shaping Studies Tutorial Day 1
- Shaping Studies Tutorial Day 2
- Shaping Studies Tutorial Day 3
- Shaping Studies Tutorial Day 4
- Shaping Studies Tutorial Day 5
While the techniques can be used for studies and quick paintings, they can also be combined with other techniques for a more complex painting. Today, I’m sharing one of those. This was still a quick painting. It took longer timewise, because I waited 10-15 minutes between each glaze (layer of painting) and I spent some time drawing. Including the drawing, and that drying time, this took about an hour and a half.
I started with an underpainting of swirling shapes. I let this dry completely.
Note for beginners: An underpainting is an initial layer of light color. It can be a wash – an application of paint that covers all or a large area of the paper or simply shapes like this. The underpainting is meant to influence the painting in subtle ways. It may show in the finished painting, but more often will simply influence the colors that come afterward.
Then I drew my weaver bird and his nest. Yes – his. As with many species, the male weaver bird uses his nest building skills to impress the females!
I followed this up with a glaze of QoR Benzimidazolone Yellow. I dropped small amounts of Ultramarine Blue Violet into the still-wet yellow and tilted the paper to let it all blend into a green. After that wash dried, I added more of the yellow to deepen the color on the bird. I let all of this dry.
Note for beginners: A wash is a thin layer of paint used to cover large areas with color- usually the entire paper. A glaze is another wash, but implies that you are painting over a dry layer(s) of paint.
Most of the work was done in this step. I used a thin wash of QoR Manganese Blue on the bird’s face and beak. I mixed the yellow and blue – about 3 parts yellow to blue – and glazed all around the nest and the bird. Within the nest, I switched to a dryer brush and painted, but left some strands the lighter green. This is negative painting.
While the nest was still damp, but not too wet, I added QoR Quinacridone Gold as shading around the nest. I watered down the color and added a little for shading on the bird. A thicker mix was used to color the eye.
Making up a creamy mix of purple using equal amounts of Ultramarine Blue Violet, Quinacridone Violet with just a touch of Iridescent Gold (Fine), I darken the bird’s face, and parts of the wing and add detail to the eye.
The negative painting technique is used to make leaf shapes in the background, and add shadows within the nest. I add more water to my mix, and add deeper shading to the bird, and some of the foliage. Although, they aren’t as distinct, I make more leaf shapes.
Quinacridone Gold is used in the upper right to soften the change between foliage and sky. At this point, the original swirls of Manganese Blue are mostly hidden except on the left. However, there are subtle signs of them that show up better in the original than in the scan.
In a few places, to add some feathery shapes on the wing and vary texture in the background, I lifted some color while the paint was wet, by letting a thirsty brush sit and absorb paint.
Note for beginners: ‘Thirsty’ means that your brush is damp, but dryer than the paint on the paper. Some of the paint will flow back into the brush.
I used a white Uniball Signo pen to add highlights to the bird’s head and a few other areas on the body and leg.
The earlier Shaping Studies were very quick paintings that made use of some brush studies and were meant to be fun, relaxing and practice. The underpainting and negative painting techniques were the main features of those paintings. Today, I hope I’ve shown you how they can be used to enhance a painting without being the dominant features.