How to Paint Hydrangeas with Negative Painting

The day I painted this sketch it was cold and snowy in North Carolina.  So I was thinking warm thoughts by painting Hydrangeas. My goal was to paint the impression of hydrangeas, softly and loosely, without too much detail.

I began by mixing four puddles of color:

Petal Colors
© Annie Glacken

Next, I began by painting random strokes of the colors letting them mingle on the paper and leaving some white of the paper. Before they dried, I used a damp brush to soften and lose some of the edges.

Laying Down Initial Wash
© Annie Glacken

After this initial wash was completely dry, I began penciling in some petal shapes.

Drawing Petal Shapes
© Annie Glacken

Next, I began painting negatively around the shapes. I painted in small amounts of a darker color around the outside edges of part of the petals, and then blended the color outwards with a damp brush to lighten.

Beginning to Paint Negatively
© Annie Glacken

It is important to not go around the entire petal if you want to keep a soft loose look. By painting partially around the edges, you get lost edges which makes your painting look more interesting.

Soft Edges
© Annie Glacken

Next, I mixed up the colors for my stems and leaves.

Leaf and Stem Colors
© Annie Glacken

Here are my completed leaf and stems.

Finished Leaves and Stems
© Annie Glacken

Here you can see the hydrangeas are completed but I still need to add the lettering to the page.

Complete Flowers
© Annie Glacken

I photographed the left hand page where the lettering would go. Then I took the photo into my computer and added lettering. Once I had the look I wanted, I printed the page. Then I turned the printed page over and added graphite over the back of the letters. This allowed me to then tape the printed page to the journal page and trace my letters.

Letters are Traced
© Annie Glacken

I then began painting my letters:

Painting the Letters
© Annie Glacken

Below is my completed page.

“Hydrangeas”
© Annie Glacken

I am really happy with how loose and fresh these hydrangeas look.

If you are interested in purchasing a downloadable, printable 21 page tutorial containing pigment names, pattern pages for tracing flower and lettering, and detailed instructions with 49 step-by-step photos for only $6, please visit my Etsy shop here. This download allows you to paint this design for your own personal use only.

Let me know if you decide to try to give this a try. Happy painting!

8 Replies to “How to Paint Hydrangeas with Negative Painting”

  1. Thank you, Annie! I have trouble painting loose and understanding negative painting. Now I understand it! I’m going to try your way of doing this lovely loose painting of hydrangeas! It’s beautiful!

    • Judy, I know what you mean about having a hard time painting loosely. I have struggled with that for years and am just now beginning to get the hang of it. If you need any more help, the tutorial listed has more detailed instructions and photos–no pressure to purchase though! Let me know how it goes. Thanks for commenting.

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