Recent Florals and Negative Painting

I’ve been working on my negative painting skills again – in fact I recently led some Open Art sessions on doing so. So I though I’d gather the paintings together here. All these are florals or leaves or forest paintings (“Flora”).

Definition:  “Negative painting, is an intriguing, alternative approach in which the subject is established by painting around the object rather than by painting the object itself. Most painters work in the positive, typically adding one shape on top of another. If, on the other hand, you carve out your shapes, you are taking a subtractive approach: constructing in the negative. So when images such as leaves, trees, flowers or rocks appear in negative paintings they have been created by painting the spaces around and between simple, distinctive shapes (symbols) that represent these things.” — Linda Kemp

You might want to look at the last article I did on negative painting:  NEGATIVE PAINTING FLORAL TRANSFORMATION

"Leaf Tapestry" watercolor by Sharon Giles

“Leaf Tapestry” watercolor by Sharon Giles

"Forest's Embrace" watercolor by Sharon Giles

“Forest’s Embrace” watercolor by Sharon Giles

"Red Field Daisies" before gouache background added

“Red Field Daisies” before gouache background added

"Ref Field Daisies" watercolor / gouache by Sharon Giles

“Ref Field Daisies” watercolor / gouache by Sharon Giles

"Blue Flower Exercie" watercolor by Sharon Giles

“Blue Flower Exercie” watercolor by Sharon Giles

This last painting is a candidate for more negative painting using gouache to add warm accents.


Negative Painting Floral Transformation

I am a long-time fan of negative painting, and it’s a technique that I use to rescue or enhance my paintings. One of my favorite artist instructors is Linda Kemp. Check out her use of negative painting at My favorite local instructor who teaches this technique is Maureen Brouillette. Her nationally-known father Al Brouillette wrote “The Evolving Picture: How to Manipulate Your Paints Until you Get a Painting You Like”. If you can find this book, buy it!


Recently I took an online course “Painting flowers in mixed media from imagination” from Sandrine Pellissier at and it inspired me to develop this painting. She starts her abstract design from scratch, then applies negative painting and drawing embellishment to finish the design.  For an explanation of her technique, go to

FloralTapestryprocess1Rather than start from a new abstract design, I decided to look through my extensive pile of “failed” watercolors to find a victim to experiment with her technique. It was an old flower painting that I was no longer attached to, so I decided to stick with the floral theme. The first step was to identify interesting shapes that could become flowers, leaves, a vase, or something organic. I drew my selections with a violet colored pencil, looking to create interesting shapes. The center of the flower became a shape on its own, perhaps the focal point of the painting.



The next step was the painting of the background in white (a mix of white acrylic, gesso, medium, and water). This the “negative” technique that creates the positive design. The white puts a glow back into the composition.


FloralTapestryprocess3Next I drew connecting stems to gather the shapes into a bouquet still life. For embellishment, I used purple colored pencil on the “roses” to draw a abstract contour lines. I used black crayon and green colored pencil on the leaves to draw lines. I moved traces of yellow, pink and green around the white background. I used some pink pencil in the central “mum.” I used light yellow-green acrylic to paint the implied table top and some of the leaves and organic shapes. I painted the neck of the vase and striped the body with gold acrylic ink. Then I used the gold to paint around the shapes, which had a further flattening effect on the design. Next I used black crayon on the vase stripes and signed it.

The I scanned the finished version and looked at it on the screen. I decided to paint out a leaf for better balance. So is “Floral Tapestry” finished? I’m taking it for critique.